University of Arkansas-Pine
*Cahokia High School *
Despite a remarkable performance during the week-long practices leading up to the East-West Shrine Game, followed by another eye-opening showing in Mobile preparing to play in the 2013 Senior Bowl, Armstead remained the "sleeper" of the NFL Draft Class. That is, until he made almost everyone in attendance at the NFL Scouting Combine suddenly take notice of a 305-pound offensive lineman clocking in at 4.71 seconds in the 40-yard dash.
To Armstead, his 2012 postseason "world tour" is nothing more than "business as usual" for the Technology Engineering major who toiled for four seasons as an offensive tackle for the Golden Lions. While many team executives were wondering how the Illinois prospect ended up at Arkansas-Pine Bluff, the multi-talented athlete simply stated that it was only Golden Lions head coach Monte Coleman who pursued him vigorously on the recruiting trails and was the only coach that would allow him to compete in his second love of sports – in track and field. Before venturing into the collegiate ranks as a two-sport star, Armstead did likewise during his time at Cahokia High School, where he lettered on both sides of the ball for head coach Antwyne Golliday.
As a junior, he was a 6:02, 250pound offensive and defensive lineman, recording 10 tackles on the other side of the ball. Armstead returned to school as a senior and dominated the in the trenches, leading the Comanches to an 11-2 record, as the All-Southern Seven Conference and All-Class 5A selection helped the squad capture the league title as they scored 444 points vs. 194 by their opponents before falling in the Class 5A semifinals.
Armstead traced his success in both sports to the improved quickness and strength he gained over his last two years at Cahokia High. A diligent worker in the weight room, he went from bench pressing 225 pounds as a junior to 375 pounds before reporting back to the team as a senior. "I've been working in the weight room and getting ready for football season. I'm almost ready," Armstead said before his prep senior season. "I've got to get faster and quicker if I want to play defensive end at the college level. I'd rather play defense. It's more physical."
By the time he reached Arkansas-Pine Bluff, his days on the defensive side of the ball would become brief, as he was too invaluable protecting Golden Lions quarterbacks from the blind side to have the coaches make him as Susan Sarandon would say in the movie, Bull Durham a "sixty-minute man." For the Cahokia High track team, Armstead would end his prep career in outstanding fashion. At the July, 2009 Class 2A Illinois State Track and Field Meet, he was one of the least experienced of the 13 competitors in the finals of the shot put, but found himself in second place with one throw left — his.
"The pressure was on, but in a situation like that, you just try to block out all the outside distractions," Armstead said. "I just kind of walked around a little bit, gathered myself and just basically told myself that I wasn't going to lose." He didn't. In just his second year of throwing the shot put and in the biggest meet of his life, the two-sport star came up with a throw of 57-feet, 7-inches as he nipped Matt Smith of Mount Zion (57-3 1/2) to win the title.
"I was concentrating on not fouling and on my last throw, I just tried to put a little more on it," Armstead said. "It was just enough." Thanks to the efforts of Armstead and state long jump champion Laderrick Ward, the Comanches went on to place second in the Class 2A state meet. Armstead, who also excelled in the discus, was named the News-Democrat Class 1A-2A Track and Field Athlete of the Year. The athlete, who had a season best throw of 61-0 1/4 at the St. Clair County Meet in May, said he was pleased at his winning toss. But it could have been better. "It was a good throw. I wish I could have gone a little farther, set the bar a little higher for the guys next year. But it was a successful throw," Armstead said. "If there was a disappointment, it was not making the (state) finals in the discus. It was more of a disappointment for my team, though. I had a couple of good throws in the preliminary round that were just out bounds."
While Armstead completed his high school athletic career with a state title in track, his first love has always been football. But, Cahokia track coach Leroy Millsap, who guided the Comanches to Class AA state titles in 2006 and 2007, feels Armstead is a better prospect in track than football.
"If he would concentrate on just track instead of football, there is no doubt in my mind that he could be one of the top six throwers in the nation as a freshman," Millsap said. "With his smarts and his work ethic, Terron could be a world-class athlete in track and field if he chooses to. "Some kids get to a certain point and that's good enough for them. Terron continues to try and get better and better all the time. He's smart, very strong and quick. For a kid 6-5, 280 pounds, you wouldn't believe how quick he is."
Armstead said he became more of a track and field student his senior season. "That year, I just knew more about it and got more of a feel about throwing both the shot and the discus," Armstead said. "I also watched videos of guys throwing, came out and practiced more and I also got stronger and got quicker across the (throwing) ring. "I would recommend that both track and football athletes do both sports. They correspond with each other so much. You want to be bigger, faster and stronger and track helps you out with football." He would end his prep track career earning All-American second-team honors while ranking 14th nationally in the shot put.
Coming out of Cahokia High, Armstead drew interest from Missouri, Kansas State and Kansas. But, he didn't take his college entrance exam (the ACT) until after national signing day. Armstead said he simply didn't know any better. By the time he took the test, the big-school scholarship offers were gone. He chose Arkansas-Pine Bluff in part because he was allowed to play football and throw the shot put in track. Headed to the University of Arkansas-Pine Bluff, Armstead competed in both track and field and football for the Golden Lions. As a true freshman, he appeared in five games as a reserve offensive tackle during a season cut short by raging storms throughout the South. In 2010, the sophomore was inserted into the lineup at left offensive tackle, starting 10 games for a Golden Lions unit that ranked 20
th in the nation and second in the South-western Athletic Conference in passing (250.0 ypg) and was second in the league with an average of 385.18 yards in total offense. Armstead posted 10 touchdown-resulting blocks and 87 knockdowns playing on a line that yielded 28 sacks. In track, Armstead was runner-up for Most Outstanding Performer honors at the 2010 SWAC Outdoor Championships, losing by one point (21-20) to teammate Arthur Thomas. He went on to capture the shot put (54-06.75) and discus (16405) titles while leading Arkansas-Pine Bluff to an overall second-place finish. The 2011 season saw Armstead garner All-SWAC accolades in both football and track. On the football field, the left tackle again started 10 times, registering 90 knockdowns and 10 touchdown-resulting blocks. The offense struggled, though, as their quarterbacks were sacked 36 times (tied for 102nd nationally) and averaged just 339.18 yards per game while recording a 6-5 record. In track & field, Armstead was an All-SWAC and All-American choice, as he set the league indoor shot put record with a toss of 16.9 meters (55-8), leading the Golden Lions to the 2011 SWAC Indoor Championships. In the league outdoor finals, he placed second in the hammer throw (144-02) and captured the shot put event (57-02).
Armstead was named the 2012 SWAC Indoor Championships Most Outstanding Performer, in helping the Golden Lions capture Gold. He won the shot put (58-02) and weight throw (57-11.25) events. In May, he ventured to Austin, Texas for an International Association of Athletics Federations meet, where he had a career-best 18.73-meter (61-5.40) toss in the shot put. That toss qualified him to compete at the NCAA West Preliminary Track and Field Meet in Oregon.
Armstead earned All-American and All-SWAC first-team honors as a senior, as the left tackle started every game for a 102 Golden Lions grid team. He recorded 118 knockdowns and 15 touchdown blocks to held the team lead the league in rushing with a 200.25-yard average. After playing on a line that allowed 36 sacks in 2011, they reduced that total to 23 during his final season. With his collegiate career coming to an end, Armstead's Combine performance was further validated when he again put up equally impressive "numbers" in early March during the Golden Lions Pro Day that was viewed by representatives from at 15 NFL teams coming to see the "star" of the Southwestern Athletic Conference. For all that comes along with having a shot to play on the next level, Armestead has worked himself into a position that has opened everyone's eyes across the country. With running the fastest time for an offensive lineman in the history of the NFL Combine and playing in the Senior Bowl and the East West Shrine Game, Armstead has had the sports world buzzing.
"It's been fun and a good experience to compete against guys from bigger schools. It is a great opportunity coming from a small school even though they question the level of competition, although there are a lot of great players in the SWAC", said Armstead. When asked about the opportunity for exposure that this type of event has for his left tackle, Arkansas-Pine Bluff head coach and former Washington Redskins linebacker Monte Coleman had this to say, "We've actually got a stellar group of guys out here working out today. Even some guys that played in 2011. This has really been great for these guys to have an opportunity to make it to the professional level."
New San Diego Chargers offensive line coach Joe D'Alessandris put Armstead through a workout that went on for about an hour. The coach walked away and told the media gathering that Armstead looked outstanding in the workouts and has a very good chance of being one of the top 60 players selected in the draft.
Armstead, who found himself at the Senior Bowl as an injury replacement for Tennessee's Dallas Thomas, has proven throughout the 2012 post-season that he does not look out of place among the guys from larger schools. He shows outstanding quickness for a player his size. He is very light on his feet, and has the ability to instantly react to movement. He shuffles his feet well to gain position and is explosive off the snap to reach his spot on the outside, but also demonstrates the lateral agility to protect the inside. Armstead displays a sudden burst to gain advantage and is nimble redirecting down the line. He is quick to turn up field and neutralize the linebackers on the move. He has one of the best timed speed performances of any offensive lineman in college football. His quick feet will generally see him gain position when blocking in-line. He is also very adept in sliding out to pick up edge rushers in pass protection.
As a left tackle during his last two seasons, Armstead displayed very good explosion with his initial step, coming off the ball with good urgency on both run and pass plays. He is a solid walk-off drive blocker who moves with ease getting into the second level. He plays with natural strength, and has shown marked improvement in 2012 with his power base. He has the power to move the pile and drives block with leverage.
The left tackle drives off the snap hard, as he demonstrates the leg drive and feet to stay on his blocks and sustain. He is a good in-line blocker, possessing a wide base as he runs his feet well. He is very good at sustaining and is developing a nice feel for blocking angles (still learning technique, but is responding quickly). He is effective when asked to wall off and screen. He brings power to his game when driving for movement and will generally finish.
Armstead has the good footwork to stay on his feet on the move and can handle the switch-off well when working in combination with his guard (see 2012 Southern and Prairie View games). Even when he gets over-extended, he is quick to recover, thanks to his above average athletic ability. The thing that separates him from others is his drop step/kick to gain depth and width needed to anchor. He struggled at times earlier in his career with his kick slide, but made adjustments and as the years progressed, he has developed the balance and body control needed to make the reach blocks, use his change of direction agility to wall off and generate the foot quickness to recover.
Armstead is also capable of making the cut-off block and readjusting quickly to the edge rush. His quickness in his pass set lets him mirror and contain edge rushers (see 2011 Alcorn State and 2012 Texas Southern, Jackson State games), but he needs to keep his hands inside the frame- work to prevent edge rushers from slipping off his blocks. "I've been blessed with a unique skill-set," Armstead said. "I'm extremely light on my feet for a big guy, I have to say. It's a blessing. It was nothing that was coached."I just want to show them my athleticism, speed, quickness, be smooth, be fluid. I have some pretty good technique, but I know I need some work on every aspect of my game."
Armstead appeared in 37 games at Arkansas-Pine Bluff, starting his final 32 contests at the demanding left offensive tackle position…An eight-time champion for the Golden Lions track-&-field team, on the gridiron, he has registered 314 knockdowns and 47 touchdown-resulting blocks…Rushed once for an 8-yard gain in his final collegiate appearance, vs. Jackson State in 2012…Also recorded four tackles (3 solos).
Armstead was named to the Football Championship Subdivision All-American first-team and was a member of the AllAmerican Sleeper Team compiled by The NFL Draft Report, as that scouting information service rates the Golden Lion as the fourth-best offensive tackle prospect eligible for the 2013 draft and the best prospect at any position below the major