A matter of when: Armstead ready for long-awaited splash on draft board


When Terron Armstead hears his name called in the NFL Draft — it’s hardly a question that he will — he’ll share the moment with his twin 6-month-old daughters Triniti and Tatiana at his Cahokia, Ill., home.

But he can’t begin to imagine how he’ll react.

“The feeling is unpredictable,” Armstead said. “I can’t give you an illusion of what it’s going to be like. I’m going to be relieved to see what city, what team I’m going to play for. I’m going to be relieved.”

The left tackle has had his fair share of visits to NFL teams and private workouts in the last two months. Of course he turned plenty of team representatives’ heads when he made his historic 40-yard dash in February’s NFL Combine in Indianapolis, cementing a spot in the consciousness of draft analysts and their followers across the country.

Since then, his name has continued to rise on the chart of at least one draft predicition’s website. NFLDraftScout.com ranked Armstead 98th overall among 2013 draft prospects shortly after his combine performance and as of Saturday had him 49th overall, sixth among offensive linemen.

“Every team I’ve talked to has high interest,” Armstead said. “They tell me I’m going to go pretty high. I don’t know what they consider to be pretty high, but however it unfolds, I’ll be grateful.”

It will be a big moment in UAPB history when Armstead is drafted. Ten years have passed since a Golden Lion was last drafted, and only five since 1992 have had their names called.

Armstead could make a big splash on the draft board to end the long drought.

“I think he’ll be drafted first round,” UAPB coach Monte Coleman said. “… I think he fits right in with all the other offensive linemen (who are draft hopefuls). He may have an edge.”

No UAPB player has ever been drafted in the first or second round.

Armstead has his durability and speed to market to prospective teams. He played all of the 2012 season with a sprained AC joint in his left shoulder, but the injury has healed.

His 4.71-second sprint is the fastest 40-yard dash ever for an offensive lineman at the NFL Combine. It came on the heels of his performances in the East-West Shrine Game and Senior Bowl, where scouts began to take a closer look at his talent.

But the 6-foot-6, 306-pounder has run faster. While training at the Athletes’ Performance Institute in Pensacola, Fla., Armstead was clocked at 4.63.

“He’s definitely gotten faster,” said Lyron McClenney, who played on the offensive line with Armstead at UAPB and worked out with him in Pensacola.

Armstead’s draft preparations haven’t stopped with the combine or UAPB’s pro day the following month. He’s made, by his estimation, 10 visits with NFL teams, talking with coaches, player personnel directors and directors of college scouting. On campus, he’s held seven private workouts for teams.

Armstead declined to mention which teams he’s been in contact with, citing notices of confidentiality.

On campus, he spends his mornings doing conditioning drills and his afternoons lifting weights and working on position drills while his college team goes through their first post-Armstead spring camp.

Asked what his workout goals are, Armstead said: “Just trying to get in the best shape I possibly can. I’ve been on the road traveling quite a bit, visiting teams.

Whichever team drafts me, minicamp starts right after the draft.”

McClenney has his own draft hopes as well. So do Brandon Thurmond, the SWAC Defensive Player of the Year and nation’s sack leader from UAPB, and Bill Ross, the Lions’ leading tackler the past two seasons.

“The sky is the limit for both of those guys, Jarvis Webb, Lyron McClenney, Dennis Jenkins, …” Armstead said. “It’s so unpredictable what NFL guys think.”

But Armstead is the widest known of the Lions among draft experts. And in Cahokia, the locals are anticipating hearing his name from the Radio City Music Hall podium Thursday, Friday or Saturday.

It’s only a matter of when.

“The whole city is gravitating,” Armstead said. “The people haven’t had much positivity come around from the whole area, the whole county really. Just trying to keep everything going pretty smooth and keeping positive.”

2013 NFL Draft

• Where: Radio City Music Hall, New York

• When: First round 7 p.m. Thursday; second and third rounds starting at 5:30 p.m. Friday; fourth through seventh rounds starting at 11 a.m. Saturday

• TV: ESPN and NFL Network

UAPB draft history

Twenty-six UAPB football players have been selected by NFL teams in draft history. Here is the complete list of Golden Lion selections, grouped by the years in which they were drafted (source NFL.com) and listed with position, selecting team and round drafted:

1964 — Bob Brown, DT, 49ers, 13th

1965 — Gene Jeter, LB, Broncos, round not listed

1966 — Ceasar Belser, DB, Redskins, 10th

1967 — Willie Parker, DT, Oilers*, fifth

1968 — Charles Williams, position not listed, Bengals, sixth; Don Evans, position not listed, Vikings, 14th

1969 — Ed Cross, position not listed, Redskins, third; L.C. Greenwood, DE, Steelers, 10th; Clarence Washington, DT, Steelers, 11th; Jim White, position not listed, Chargers, 12th; Amos Ayres, position not listed, Dolphins, 13th; Billy Austin, position not listed, Raiders, 17th

1970 — Manny Sistrunk, DT, Redskins, fifth

1972 — Tommy Gay, position not listed, Cardinals, 12th; Charles Burrell, position not listed, Packers, 16th

1973 — Terry Nelson, TE, Rams, fourth; Wally Francis, WR, Bills, fifth

1977 — Ken Smith, position not listed, Patriots, seventh

1980 — Ron McCall, position not listed, Steelers, ninth

1991 — Ivory Lee Brown, RB, Cardinals, seventh; Rapier Porter, position not listed, Packers, 10th

1999 — Chris Akins, DB, Packers, seventh

2000 — Greg Wesley, SS, Chiefs, third; Ernest Grant, DT, Dolphins, sixth

2002 — Dante Wesley, CB, Panthers, fourth

2003 — Courtney Van Buren, T, Chargers, third

* — now Titans