Crazy, diehard college football fans can cause a lot of different reactions during a high school player’s official visit to a university.
It can either enthrall them, with the prospect of winning serving as an aphrodisiac of sorts, compelling a true competitor to win where winning matters most. Or, it can serve as a major turnoff, with a young, impressionable high school football star realizing he doesn’t need the angst and anxiety that comes in a place where football is everything.
Steele quarterback Tommy Armstrong falls into the first group.
Prior to his official visit to Nebraska last weekend, Armstrong said that people around him warned him of just how deep the loyalty to football is in Nebraska. How being a Nebraska Cornhusker can be a gift or a curse – depending on how much you relish winning and giving it 100 percent every time you take the field.
They pointed to the mixed reaction that the Huskers’ current quarterback Taylor Martinez often gets, noting that he, much like Armstrong, is also a dual-threat who doesn’t play the passer role in traditional fashion.
But all of that just made Armstrong want it more.
“When I was in that stadium, I felt like I already had a jersey on,” Armstrong said. “The way they love football, it's just like Texas. I can't wait to represent the ‘N' that's on their helmets.
“There's something about Nebraska,” he continued. “Fans already knew who I was and what I've been doing. It really feels like the place I want to spend the next four or five years.”
Armstrong, of course, has had his own fair share of success as a quarterback for Steele – a school he led to a state championship last season. This season, Armstrong also helped his team extend their winning streak to 17 games.
The powerful 6-foot-2, 210-pounder has shown a certain propensity for being able to both pass and run, depending on what the situation calls for, at will. Part of the reason he was so highly regarded during the recruiting process this year is because aside from his clear-cut physical talents, he's also a very raw player who can easily be molded and taught how to play the game the way it’s meant to be played by the right coach.
And Armstrong, for his part, is willing to learn. When asked why he chose Nebraska above TCU, Southern Miss., Oregon and the other schools who chased him, the talented passer specifically cited his connection with Huskers offensive coordinator, Tim Beck.
Beck, of course, instituted a new, speedier version of the offense in Nebraska this year, a move that, thus far, has paid dividends. Whereas in year’s past the offense was the weak point of the program and the defense was particularly strong, in 2011, the roles have flipped.
Given everything that Beck and the rest of the coaching staff has learned about dual threat quarterbacks thanks to Martinez, it will be interesting to see how they implement those lessons as they’re grooming Armstrong to eventually takeover the team in the near future.