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Oregon DL Arik Armstead quits basketball to focus on football

Ted S. Warren / Associated Press
Oregon DL Arik Armstead was widely considered one of the top national recruits in the 2012 class.

Oregon defensive lineman Arik Armstead is giving up his spot on the Ducks' basketball team to focus on football. Now, if Armstead switches from defense to offense, he could emerge as one of the elite NFL draft prospects on the West Coast.

Armstead has been adequate during his first two years at Oregon, going from an often-used backup as a true freshman to starting the first five games this season and appearing in the other eight. Armstead has 41 tackles, 4.5 tackles for loss, 1.5 sacks and two pass breakups in his career, but those totals should go up with the graduation of senior stalwart Taylor Hart.

But it is hard not to see those modest totals as a disappointment, considering Armstead was touted universally as one of the top players in the 2012 recruiting class. Armstead (6-foot-8, 280 pounds) has physical tools that are better than those of his older brother, New England Patriots defensive lineman Armond Armstead.

What sets the younger Armstead apart is his outstanding footwork, coincidentally the result of his basketball background. With that combination of size and agility, it was easy to imagine Armstead as the next dominant offensive tackle, which is exactly why 24/7 Sports and Scout.com each ranked him ahead of Stanford-bound Andrus Peat as just that.

Peat emerged as a force for the Cardinal this season, putting himself on the short list of future top draft picks from Pac-12 alongside Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota, UCLA quarterback Brett Hundley and USC defensive lineman Leonard Williams.

Armstead could join that group as an early entrant in the 2015 NFL Draft but is unlikely to be selected as early as a defensive lineman. Make the switch to offensive lineman, and it could certainly be in play with those attributes.

And it isn't out of the question that an NFL team could make that move for Armstead. The Seattle Seahawks did it with J.R. Sweezy, who played defensive tackle at N.C. State but was moved to the other side of the ball as a rookie. Sweezy has started 15 games at right guard this season and will do so again this Sunday in Super Bowl XLVIII.

Follow Dan Greenspan on Twitter @DanGreenspan.

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