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Arik Armstead Hopes Focus On Football Pays Off

Once a two-sport athlete at Oregon, defensive tackle Arik Armstead focused primarily on football his junior year, ascending to one of the best prospects in this year's draft.

Arik Armstead wants to carry on the tradition that his older brother, Armond, set in place before he had to retire prematurely.

Armond, who was at one point was a promising prospect at USC, was forced to give up the game he loved after multiple injuries.

Check out these photos of Arik Armstead, an athletic defensive lineman out of Oregon.

While at USC, he suffered a heart attack. Then, after thriving in the CFL, Armond joined the Patriots before an infection was too much to allow him back on the gridiron.

"My brother not being able to play anymore, I feel I'm trying to carry on that torch," Arik Armstead said at the NFL Combine in February. "Going through recruiting and high school, I was following up after him; I wanted to be like him. …He kind of paved the way for me and I'm trying to continue that."

Armstead, a defensive tackle with Oregon, really came on during his junior year in 2014, recording career highs in tackles (46), tackles for loss (14) and sacks (2.5).

Part of the credit can go to his brother.

"Throughout this whole season, he was watching film with me, giving me tips on guys," he said. "Some cadence tips, working with me studying offensive lineman [and] what they do. My time in San Diego, we've been working on my get-off and my technique and things like that that are going to help me and push me to the next level."

While few can do it, the 6-foot-7, 292-pound Armstead played both college football and basketball for the Ducks for two seasons.

But with only a reserve role being offered on the basketball team -- and with aspirations of improving on the football field -- Armstead made the decision to give up basketball.

He's hoping the primary focus on football pays off.

"I love basketball, but I feel it was very beneficial for me," Armstead said of his decision. "I love this game of football, and I really want to master my craft. So I put down basketball just to focus on this. Basketball was a finesse sport. I love the physicality and violence of football."

With his body able to keep up with the speed of basketball and the power football at once, Armstead believes his skillset is distinct in comparison to many of his 2015 NFL Draft classmates.

"I'm versatile player who's done a lot of things at Oregon moving across the line," he said. "I have a unique skillset that with coaching can develop a lot more and turn myself into one of the best defensive linemen in the league."

That flexibility also allows him to be moved around easily regardless of the base formation.

"In the 4-3 scheme I think I'm an outside guy on first and second down who can move inside and rush over the guards on third down," he said. "In the 3-4, I think I'm a 5-tech, a 4-tech or 4-I. That's what I've been doing at Oregon, and I'll rush probably on third down there, too."

While his draft slot remains unknown at this time, Armstead does believe one thing is set in stone.

"I feel I'm the best defensive lineman in this draft."

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