Senior safety Ray-Ray Armstrong has been dismissed from the Miami Hurricanes football program, per, @hurricanesports.
UM, mum on the subject the past few weeks, announced the news in a release on Wednesday morning, stating that while no longer part of the football program, Armstrong has the option to remain at the university, under scholarship, or to transfer with a full release.
Unfortunately, Armstrong’s legacy will be that of a never-was at ‘The U’. The highly touted prospect from Seminole High in Sanford, Florida never played up to his potential. Rotating between quarterback and safety in high school, Armstrong cam to UM the nation’s 13th-ranked player, according Rivals.com and was 21st by ESPN.
Armstrong made his decision on national television back in January 2009 during the UnderArmour All-American Bowl with Seminole High teammates Dyron Dye, a defensive end, and wideout Andre Debose. While Debose opted for Florida, Dye followed Armstrong to Coral Gables.
Three years later, Debose, thought to be the best Sunshine State receiver in the 2009 class, has twenty-six career receptions and four touchdowns over two seasons with the Gators, while Dye has switched from defense to offense after his redshirt freshman year and saw minimal action at tight end in 2011.
All three players were named by Ponzi-schemer Nevin Shapiro in the tell-all Yahoo! expose last August, said to have received extra benefits on a recruiting trip to Miami in late 2008 and sadly, in the end, Armstrong’s tale is the saddest.
A tremendously gifted athlete, Armstrong came to Miami as a safety and donned the number of the late, great Sean Taylor – but never came close to filling Taylor’s shoes.
As a freshman in 2009, Armstrong showed potential as Miami put together a 9-4 – it’s best finish since 2005 – seeing significant action in ten games. Armstrong recorded a then-career high seven tackles in a win over No. 8 Oklahoma.
A year later, Armstrong was third on the team in tackles (79) and recorded a team-high three interceptions on the year, as well as two defensive touchdowns. He also matched nine-tackle high twice, against Ohio State and Florida State and forced a fumble against Georgia Tech.
In August 2011, when the Shapiro story broke, things turned for the worse. Armstrong earned a four-game suspension but returned for Virginia Tech, a game Miami lost 35-31 on a last minute score by Hokies quarterback Logan Thomas.
Armstrong recorded seven tackles and a fumble recovery against Virginia Tech and matched it later in the season against Duke, where he also recorded his lone interception of the year.
While the Shapiro-related suspension was forgivable – an offense that occurred before Armstrong even signed his letter of intent with UM – his second sit-down of the season was the result of stupidity and self-absorbtion.
Days after the early November win over Duke, Armstrong took to Twitter to boast of a meal at Prime 112 on South Beach. Unfortunately, the dinner with with the president of a sports PR firm, which Armstrong named in the tweet, and with the NCAA already all over UM, there was an investigation.
One would’ve hoped that the early four-game suspension would’ve set Armstrong right. It didn’t. Even worse, the November punishment forced him to miss the annual showdown with Florida State – a game where Miami fell 23-19 and could’ve used some help in the secondary.
(UM safety Kacy Rodgers II misplayed FSU receiver Rodney Smith in the end zone, leading to the Noles’ lone offensive touchdown of the day.)
Armstrong returned for the final two games of the season – a win at South Florida and a loss to Boston College – and unlike some of his cohorts, decided not to declare early for the NFL Draft, instead returning to campus this winter to workout and prep for 2012.
Head coach Al Golden and other assistants praised Armstrong’s off-season conditioning and used him as an example for other players, citing his work ethic and dedication. He ended spring ball the top free safety on the depth chart and a few months later, more social networking issues and news that he “violated team policy” again.
Armstrong again, supposedly took to Twitter and posted something booster-related. The tweet was deleted before making external waves, but internally at UM the ball apparently started rolling weeks ago.
As Brian ‘The Beast’ London stated in his Armstrong-themed CanesFix Podcast earlier today, speculation is still the name of the game and there are a handful of theories behind the safety’s dismissal.
Was it the tweet? What about the NCAA, which has been on campus uncovering items not necessarily Shapiro-related (re: look at what came up in regards to the basketball program in the post-season).
Was this Golden? Was it UM? Did Armstrong simply wear out his welcome?
Is this program simply tired of guys from the old regime screwing up after being given multiple chances to get it right? This could easily be Ray-Ray’s collective body of work more than just his latest tweet doing him in. No one has said otherwise.
Either way, wishing him the best, even though he didn’t give UM his.
Another scholarship has opened up. Golden will fill it proper and until then, it’s all about next-man-in and the next Cane great stepping up and filling in.