Armstead highlights Ducks' recruiting class
The Oregon Ducks were assured of one prized recruit a few days before his letter of intent was due on coach Chip Kelly's desk.
Arik Armstead, a defensive end from Pleasant Grove High School in Northern California, announced on Sunday that he had selected the Ducks over USC, Washington, Notre Dame, California, and UCLA.
The 6-foot-8, 295-pound Armstead, considered by many to be a five-star recruit, wants to play both football and basketball for the Ducks.
On Twitter, he proclaimed: ''Eugene here I come.''
It became official on Wednesday, when the Ducks announced their 21-member 2012 recruiting class. Oregon signed eight players on offense, 10 on defense, two athletes and one specialist, a punter.
''Everybody we got we anticipated getting,'' Kelly said. ''We kind of knew where we stood with everybody.''
Kelly, who said Armstead will be a defensive lineman, visited him at his Sacramento-area home last week.
''I just liked how honest he was, and he really sold Oregon on me,'' Armstead told the Sacramento Bee newspaper. ''Oregon coaches never talked bad about any other program. So many do that negative recruiting. Oregon recruited me without really recruiting me.''
Armstead, who had long ago verbally committed to USC but changed his mind, plans to enroll in school early and major in sports marketing. He announced that, at least for football, he'll wear No. 9 in honor of an uncle who passed away.
An intriguing prospect in Oregon's 2012 recruiting class was 6-foot-8, 300-pound offensive tackle Kyle Long, son of NFL Hall of Famer Howie Long.
Long went to Florida State to play baseball but struggled to adjust and then got in trouble when he was arrested for driving under the influence. The 23-year-old played two seasons for Saddleback College in Mission Viejo, Calif.
''Just a tremendous prospect that will have an opportunity to come in and play right away,'' Kelly said Wednesday. ''Athletically he can play defensive line anywhere in the country but I think he's looking toward the next level.''
Long has one year of eligibility left, but the Ducks are expected to petition the NCAA for another.
Oregon added two tight ends, Evan Baylis of Grandview High School in Aurora, Colo., and Pharaoh Brown from Lyndhurst, Ohio, who will shore up the position after the departure of senior David Paulson.
Signee Stezon Bair, a 6-foot-9, 265-pound defensive lineman from Iowa Western Community College, is the younger brother of former Oregon defensive tackle Brandon Bair, who now plays for the Kansas City Chiefs.
The Ducks also signed twin 5-foot-11 defensive backs Eric and Stephen Amoako from Martin High School in Arlington, Texas.
Signing Day comes during an eventful offseason for the Ducks.
First, former Heisman finalist LaMichael James announced, as expected, that he would skip his senior season to enter the NFL draft. Then fellow running back Kenjon Barner announced that he would stay with the Ducks for his final season.
Probably the biggest surprise came when quarterback Darron Thomas decided he too would bolt for a chance at the pros. The junior signal-caller went 23-3 as a starter for the Ducks, but some questioned his decision to leave school early.
Then Kelly flirted with leaving Oregon for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, but after numerous discussions with the NFL team, the coach said in a statement that he had ''unfinished business'' with the Ducks.
Oregon, which has won three straight conference titles, went 12-2 last season, capped by a 45-38 victory over Wisconsin in the Rose Bowl. The year before, the Ducks went undefeated in the regular season to earn a spot in the BCS national championship game against eventual champion Auburn.