FAYETTEVILLE — Andrew Armstrong had a big season at Texas A&M-Commerce last year, but then opted to enter the transfer portal.
As expected, once the 6-foot-4, 201-pound Armstrong entered the portal big schools came calling. However, for Armstrong, Kenny Guiton’s Thanksgiving call provided the reason for him to choose Arkansas.
“I didn’t know if I was going to hit the portal at first throughout the season,” Armstrong said. “But once I hit the portal, it was crazy. The first day was crazy. I don’t think I ate that day. I don’t think I ate that day, it was crazy. I was up from like 8 to like 10 o’clock to answer phone calls and things like that.
“When Arkansas, I talked to them the first day, but they didn’t offer me the first day. They called me on Thanksgiving. That’s what really sold me. I’m like, they called me on Thanksgiving when they’re supposed to be home with their family, cooking, eating, having good family time, they’re thinking about me. I’m like okay, this is where I want to…I like it like that. So I set my visit up right then and there as soon as they called me on the phone. Came up here and I didn’t want to go nowhere else. It was locked in from that point on. I love it here. Man, I love it here.”
Now that he’s actually being coached by Guiton, Armstrong talked about what that is like.
“Coach Guiton, he’s like a friend to us,” Armstrong said. “We can go to him, talk to him about everything. If he sees you going through something, he’s not going to let you just go through it. He’s going to try to help you get out of it. He’s like a father away from home, if you want to say it like that. He’s a competitive coach, he’s going to coach you hard, he’s going to make sure everything is good at home. He’s not just a football coach. He’s a mentor to us. So I feel like it’s been great, my time here so far with him.”
Armstrong has gotten some reps with the first unit this spring. He talked about working with KJ Jefferson and the others.
“Yes sir, just building that connection with KJ,” Armstrong said. “All the receivers, me going with the first-team sometimes, going with the second-team sometimes, Isaac (TeSlaa) going with the first-team sometimes, second-team… It’s just helping us build that relationship, that camaraderie with not just the first group or the second group, but the offense as a whole, because you never know when you have to go in, you never know when you have to come out. Injuries happen, things like that. So I feel like it’s very good with the depth and things we have right now.”
Armstrong talked about how it has been at Arkansas and what he expected before he got here.
“Me personally, I feel like coming in, I feel like it was going to be challenging, like my first day of lifts, I was like ‘Uh, I got to do this for a couple, three months?,” Armstrong said. “I don’t know.’ But I got used to it. Everybody brought me in the family. Isaac, the receivers, the coaches, the defense, Snaxx (Lorando Johnson). Me and him from Dallas so we knew each other. I’ve been knowing him for a long time. Jaedon Wilson, we went to high school together. So me coming here, I was more comfortable than I was if I had to go to another school. But I’m very glad I came here.”
As a sophomore at Texas A&M-Commerce, Armstrong caught 62 passes for 1,020 yards and 13 touchdowns. No matter the level that is impressive. Armstrong was asked why he was under recruited out of Dallas (Texas) Bishop Dunne?
“Me, I don’t feel I was overlooked,” Armstrong said. “I just hadn’t developed. I wasn’t as fast coming out of high school. I really didn’t play varsity football until my senior year of high school. I had a lot of D2 offers so I ended up going to Commerce and from there I just worked, worked, worked, worked. Three whole years I really didn’t play, then that fourth year, which was last year, you know. I zone in, locked in and what happened happened.”
Other than the lifting at first, what Armstrong talked about what has been the biggest challenge for him this spring.
“The biggest challenge is … just it’s a big playbook,” Armstrong said. “That my main thing I’m trying to lock into, the playbook. I’m starting to really zone in on it. I’ve been at home every day for like 45 to an hour looking at it every day in my playbook. Going over it, going over the signals and what I’m supposed to do on this one besides the other one. That’s really the main thing is the playbook. Once I get the playbook down I’ll feel more comfortable.”
Armstrong also talked about turning some of his biggest challenges into his biggest accomplishments this spring.
“Me personally, I feel like learning the playbook, starting to get comfortable,” Armstrong said. “Starting to feel my way through practice. Starting to learn how the defense plays. How to get open. Finding ways to get open even if the play breaks down. Zone, sitting in the holes, man, just keep rolling and running out. Just things like that. Just football. Yeah, that’s about it.”
Arkansas will return to the practice fields on Tuesday. The spring game is Saturday at noon.