Nebraska Football: Tommy Armstrong Poised to Be Next Husker Great
When quarterback Tommy Armstrong's face appeared on the big screen in Memorial Stadium, fans went wild. After a week of uncertainties, it was finally clear who would start against South Dakota State.
Armstrong's start had been a long time coming, too.
Armstrong is a native of Cibolo, Texas. While quarterback for Cibolo Steele High School, Armstrong led his team to the Class 5A state championship game twice and won it all his junior year.
By graduation, Armstrong finished his high school career with 1,281 rushing yards and 16 touchdowns. He also passed for 1,945 yards and 29 touchdowns against just two interceptions and completed nearly 59 percent of his passes, according to Huskers.com.
Those numbers solidified Armstrong as a true dual-threat quarterback. Those numbers also drew the attention of many top-tier programs.
Many universities made offers to Armstrong, such as UCLA, Oregon, Missouri and Georgia Tech.
Armstrong was only interested in Nebraska, though.
The star recruit became the only scholarship quarterback in the Huskers' 2012 recruiting class, proving Nebraska has high hopes for the young star.
Fans had seen the potential Armstrong had when reviewing his high school highlights. Many were still curious what he could bring to the table.
Armstrong then burst onto the stage during the annual Red-White Spring Game last April.
Going 5-of-7 passing for 102 yards, Armstrong made a strong case that day as the apparent heir to current starting quarterback Taylor Martinez's heir. Fans became instantly excited about his potential and future with Nebraska.
Fans also began to wonder about the day Armstrong would start. That day came against South Dakota State.
Against the Jackrabbits, Armstrong proved that his Red-White Spring Game performance was no fluke. The redshirt freshman went 12-of-15 passing for 169 yards and scored a touchdown on the first three drives had led. That included a 66-yard touchdown drive that took only four plays.
He may have shared snaps with senior Ron Kellogg III, but Armstrong was who left fans buzzing.
Armstrong had plenty to talk about too.
Thanks to his performance against South Dakota State, fans are now calling for a quarterback controversy. Message board threads have been filled with discussions about who should start. Both Bo Pelini and offensive coordinator Tim Beck have made their decision clear. Quoted by the Lincoln Journal Star, Beck said post South Dakota State:
This was a setup for failure for Taylor basically. You’re going out there and those guys are going to have an opportunity to make plays. … Taylor’s proven to me. He can win in the big ballgames. He can bring our team back. He’s done it. He’s done it on the road. He’s done it at home. So. …
Armstrong's time is still coming, though. He has set himself up nicely to lead the quarterback competition for 2014; a spot he has coveted since arriving in Lincoln.
"My whole objective is pretty much to compete to be the No. 1 guy," Armstrong told reporters after the win against South Dakota State.
Armstrong has a lot going for him, after all. The Texas native proved himself in high school. Football fans know that Texas high school playoffs are not a joke.
Prior to the 2011 Texas Class 5A State Championship game, Armstrong led the Cibolo Steele High School to 15 straight victories, including the state title as a junior. He lost the championship his senior year, but his run up until that point was nothing short of impressive.
Armstrong even faced a very famous name in a shootout during his junior year of high school. That player was Tivy High School's Johnny Manziel. Cibolo may have lost that game 54-45, but Armstrong proved he could stay competitive with Manziel long before anyone knew who either were.
Martinez is the guy for now, but Armstrong is making a case that he's the guy for the future. It's only a matter of time for the redshirt freshman.
Armstrong currently possesses an ability to run that Martinez currently can't due to injury.
During his time on the field, Armstrong has shown that he is the complete package. The redshirt freshman has a good arm, good vision and the ability to tuck the ball and run when needed.
Off the field, Armstrong has also proven that he possesses the qualities of a starting quarterback and leader. He provides a calm and collected presence when talking with the media. Martinez struggled with that at the same point in his career.
Senior wide receiver Quincy Enunwa summed the two up in Nebraska's weekly press conference:
They both have similar playing styles. Obviously, Taylor is much faster, but they both bring a different confidence and swagger to the game. They both love to win. They both did it in high school, and they are both competitors on the field.
Martinez is known to be a quiet leader. Armstrong is much more vocal. This is something that truly sets the two apart.
Armstrong has come a long way since his high school days in Cibolo, Texas.
As a growing leader for Nebraska, Armstrong is ready. When the time calls, Armstrong will answer. Until then, he will continue to work towards his goal of being the go-to guy for the Huskers.
There is no doubt fans will go wild when that day arrives.
Unless otherwise noted, all quotes are courtesy of Huskers.com.
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