Jafar Armstrong Gives Notre Dame an Upgrade

Photo originally from Twitter @jafararmstrong3
Photo originally from Twitter @jafararmstrong3

When Notre Dame lost five players from the class of 2017 over the course of the season and into the off-season, a round of late offers went flying out of the Gug.  Late offers usually mean reaches and gambles.  When Jafar Armstrong committed to Notre Dame on Sunday, however, he gave Notre Dame an upgrade over the player whose decommitment opened the door for Armstrong’s late round offer.

Jordan Pouncey picked up an offer from Notre Dame following the Irish Invasion, but some recruiting experts and scouts on hand for the event questioned the Pouncey offer over some other players in attendance such as Mac Hippenhammer.  Pouncey jumped on the offer though and Notre Dame cooled on several wide receiver recruits.  That didn’t work out too well for Notre Dame after Pouncey decommitted earlier this month.

Enter Jafar Armstrong – a 6’1″, 185 lbs wide receiver from Kansas City.  The Kansas native had been committed to neighboring Missouri when Notre Dame came calling, but the lure of playing for Notre Dame eventually won out with the 247Sports 4-star wide receiver committing to the Irish on Sunday.  In the process, Armstrong gives Notre Dame an upgrade over the player he is replacing in this class.

Armstrong is a workmanlike receiver who just makes plays.  He doesn’t jump off the screen with crazy ridiculous catches.  He does, however, catch everything thrown his way and has some great top end speed when he gets in the open field.  He’ll need to work on his burst off the line at the next level, but from a top end speed perspective, Armstrong has some wheels.

Pouncey was more of a raw prospect in need of more development.  Don’t get me wrong, he has the skillset to turn out to be a good college receivers.  In Armstrong, however, Notre Dame is getting a more refined route runner with better top end speed.  At the end of the day, that’s an upgrade for Notre Dame.

Another area in which Armstrong offers Notre Dame an upgrade, not just over Pouncey, but perhaps over many of the current wide receivers, is his ability to make a play on the ball in the air.  Notre Dame didn’t have a wide receiver who excelled at winning the battle for contested balls this fall, but in Armstrong’s senior season highlights below, you see him making a living on contested balls.

As a senior at Bishop Miege in Kansas City, Armstrong racked up 1,277 yards on 54 receptions with 21 touchdowns.  He was nearly as prolific as a junior with another 1,200 yards and 16 touchdowns.  By the end of his prep career, Amrstrong set the Kansas state record for receiving touchdowns with 45.

Notre Dame is very lucky to be adding Armstrong to the class of 2017 considering how late they became a player for him.  Armstrong had been committed to Missouri since June and looked pretty set in that commitment until the Irish came calling.  Heading into his official visit this weekend, he was still committed to Missouri.  That changed this morning before he announced he will be attending Notre Dame.

Luckily for the Irish, they had a few connections with Armstrong that helped in eventually locking this one up.  Bishop Miege’s offensive line coach is none other than former Notre Dame great offensive lineman Tim Grunhard.  Grunhard’s son Colin, a high school teammate of Armstrong, announced last week that he would be attending Notre Dame as a preferred walk-on offensive lineman last week as well.

When Pouncey decommitted, Notre Dame made offers to several other wide receivers as well but were unable to win over any others.  Mac Hippenhammer stuck with Penn State even though Notre Dame was his dream offer due to how late it came.  Gavin Holmes entered the idea of Notre Dame for a bit before committing to Baylor.

Jafar Armstrong is the second wide receiver in this year’s class joining Michael Young.  Notre Dame would desperately love to add a third to the mix in Oliver Martin, but things don’t look too good for the Irish there with Michigan’s late charge.  Overall Notre Dame now has 18 commitments with Armstrong joining kicker Jonathan Doerer in committing to Notre Dame this weekend.  With just over two days remaining until Signing Day, Notre Dame is still hoping to add to that total.

Notre Dame could add more recruits to their class tomorrow with safety Evan Fields announcing tomorrow evening and a decision from defensive end Jalen Harris possible on the heels of his weekend visit to Notre Dame.


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  1. I’m glad to see ND is replacing some of the decommits, including and upgrade here or there. I still have concerns that this class won’t be what it could have been, but at least it’s not as bad as I envisioned.

    But the proof will still be in the on field results next year. Ultimately you could have the best recruiting class ever, but if you don’t win games it doesn’t mean a whole lot. It’ll be interesting to see what changes there will be next year. We’ll get a first glance at the Blue Gold game. I’ll be curious to see how Winbush does in real game situations, and not just garbage time. One positive is they can work with him from day 1.

    1. Damian,
      The proof will be on the field next year – and for some of the defenders, this off season will be the first time (other than a few games by Hudson) these upper classmen have had real college “D” coaching in awhile. The more I look into it, the more it looks like BK has assembled a great staff.

      But 1: why did it take so long, and 2: we have a newbie at QB…and that’s usually trouble…though I could name some notable exceptions to that rule.

      Bruce G. Curme
      La Crosse, Indiana

  2. Nicely done! This guy will pan out for gold too! It’s ironic that we are replacing “decommits” with better men, in some cases. Now if only the new staff can do a little coaching on these guys, as well as on the upper classmen, the fact that we have 4 star guys all over the field might finally break our way!

    One thing is pretty much for sure – these new commits are aware of the difference between our old coaching staff and the new staff…I’d bet on that. Let’s get another one or two – and call it a year!

    Bruce G. Curme ’77 ’82

  3. Tim Grunhardt was in the same dorm as me, St.Ed’s – one of the three original Notre Dame buildings – the 1988-89 year. National Champs. GO IRISH!

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