Andrew Armstrong taking on leadership role with Arkansas football

There are immeasurable differences between playing football in the FCS Southland Conference and the SEC.
Better facilities, a bigger attention to nutrition and crazier fans all welcomed Andrew Armstrong to the Arkansas football program. But the senior transfer from Texas A&M University-Commerce will never forget his first workouts inside Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium.
"When we work out in the stadium, just looking around and seeing all those seats," Armstrong said. "I didn't see those seats at my old school."
In a month's time, those seats will be filled by the Razorback faithful, and it feels like a good bet that Armstrong will have them rising in unison to celebrate big plays from the Dallas native.
The Hogs have only had five practices, but Armstrong is standing out inside a deep and inexperienced wide receivers room. More importantly, he's gaining the respect of fellow players and Arkansas' coaches, with both his talent and leadership.
"The main guy that’s stepped up has been Andrew Armstrong," Arkansas wide receivers coach Kenny Guiton said. "He’s been a guy that, like I said, even though he’s been here since January, he’s been in college. He’s an older guy. He understands it, he knows what it takes to be great, so when he sees it not happening, he steps up and is vocal about it."
Guiton spoke with the media after Tuesday's practice and admitted there was a lot of anxiety in January about his position group. Arkansas needed to hit the transfer portal and find some talented freshmen after losing standout receivers Jadon Haselwood and Matt Landers to the NFL. The recruiting pitch, however, was easy with plenty of catches up for grabs and the return of quarterback KJ Jefferson.
Much of that anxiety has since calmed. Guiton sees the hunger from Armstrong and the other transfer wide receivers, Isaac TeSlaa and Tyrone Broden, and their work on the field continues to impress.
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What stands out the most about Armstrong, according to Guiton, is his 'savviness'. At 6-foot-4 and 201 pounds, Armstrong knows how to create separation, find the soft spots in zone coverage and make the right decision on the fly. Armstrong caught 62 passes for a team-high 1,020 yards (16.5 ypc) and a team-best 13 touchdowns last season at TAMUC.
He's also impressed coaches with his athleticism, and Armstrong was a surprise addition to Arkansas' group of players who hit 22 mph at top speed in offseason practice.
"To be honest with you, Coach Guiton didn’t know he was going to run 22. So seeing that, it was awesome," Guiton said.
The final pecking order in the wide receiver rotation is still taking shape. In addition to the transfers, returnees like Isaiah Sategna, Jaedon Wilson and Bryce Stephens are all fighting for snaps. There's also the arrival of freshmen Davion Dozier and Dazmin James.
But earning a spot is a comfort zone for Armstrong, who worked his way to the glamour of SEC football and is now ready to leave his mark.
"When I came in, I didn’t want them to just put me in a starting role," he said. "I wanted to work. I wanted to start from the bottom to show what I can actually do."

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