It’s not comparing apples to oranges. It’s more like a gem compared to a precious cut diamond.
Both of these players are equal in intensity and talent.
They both explode to the ball and play with a significant amount of aggressiveness. Both come with the toughness of a lion and an attitude of a gorilla.
Both have enough steelo and confidence to have an impact on every single play. To top it off, both have worn the No. 26 for the Miami Hurricanes.
One is freshman safety Ray Ray Armstrong. The other was the late great Sean Taylor, someone Armstrong truly idolizes.
“He was a player that I see myself as,” Armstrong said. “There is a lot about him that I see in my game. I go to ball for him.”
This fierce safety made a rumble around the Hurricane nation.
Under the bright lights at Sun Life Stadium against a perennial powerhouse in Oklahoma, Armstrong struck running back DeMarco Murray with viciousness on his defensive play. Armstrong hit him like a freight train and sent a wave of excitement throughout the stadium.
He recorded a career-high seven total tackles in that game.
In his first season, Armstrong collected 21 total tackles despite missing three games. In time, Armstrong will pick up his first collegiate interception and touchdown.
“He is a good kid,” head coach Randy Shannon said. “Very energetic. Ray Ray would keep talking if you wanted him to.”
Armstrong’s given name is Aravious, but he was nicknamed Ray Ray by his mother when he was young. Growing up in a family of athletes that have played sports their whole lives, Armstrong picked up sports at the age of six.
Ever since then, Armstrong has played his heart out, especially for his mother. Through football, Armstrong wants to be able to support his mom.
“She has been there for me and supporting me for my entire life,” he said. “I feel like I owe it to her.”
At Sanford Seminole High, Armstrong won the 6A state championship; he was the quarterback and safety.
Seminole coach Mike Cullison called Armstrong the fiercest player he has ever laid his eyes on.
Armstrong has earned the same respect from his current Hurricane teammates.
“Ray Ray is my boy,” sophomore quarterback Jacory Harris said. “He’s someone I’ve known since he was in high school when he beat up on my high school. He’s just real close to me.”
Outside of class and football, Armstrong enjoys eating his beloved barbecue while spending time with his family.
“I love my family time,” he said. “I like to be around my family.”
This spring, Armstrong has been getting the majority of reps at safety. He is trying to improve on his own and as a member of the defensive unit.
“Last season, as a unit at the University of Miami it was not good,” Armstrong said. “Miami expects better, so next year we are trying to get better. For me, the biggest thing [I learned] is [if]you practice well and go hard you will get a lot of playing time.”
One tough thing Armstrong has learned is not to take any day for granted. Armstrong looks to his idol in this case.
“It’s almost like we play a kid’s game for a king’s ransom,” Taylor said in an interview in 2007. “If you don’t take it seriously enough, one day you’re going to say, ‘Oh, I could have did this, or I could have did that.’”
The Hurricanes continue to practice at Green Tree Field until the annual Spring game which takes place March 27.
Lelan LeDoux may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.