ON SPORTS: Cuero native a big catch for A&M-Kingsville (Video)
Dec. 5, 2012 at 6:05 a.m.
Four years in Kingsville have taught Robert Armstrong a valuable life lesson.
Armstrong has discovered it's not so much where you go to reach your goals, but what you do when you get there.
Armstrong was hoping to play Division I football after an outstanding high school career at Cuero.
But he wasn't able to qualify academically.
Instead of giving up, he accepted an offer to play at Division II Texas A&M-Kingsville.
"I think everybody's dream out of high school is to play Division I football," Armstrong said. "But there was the grade aspect. Once I came here, I learned if you're playing good football and making plays, they'll find you."
Pro scouts are taking a long look at Armstrong, especially after he set a school record with 67 receptions this season for 849 yards and 11 touchdowns and was named Receiver of the Year by the Lone Star Conference.
Armstrong finished his junior year by making 10 catches for 109 yards in the Javelinas' 45-38 loss to Emporia State in the Kanza Bowl in Topeka, Kan.
Armstrong will go into his senior season ranked second in career receptions (163), third in touchdown receptions (25), and sixth in receiving yards (2,065) and has a chance to break all three school records.
"Rob is the top playmaker for us and we try to get the ball to him as many times in as many ways as we can throughout the course of the game," said A&M-Kingsville receivers coach Steven Thrash. "The offense goes as Rob goes so we knew going into games we needed to get him going early and he would make the big plays for us, especially on third down."
Armstrong made a number of big plays during his high school career, racking up over 50 catches and 1,000 receiving yards as a junior and a senior and earned all-state honors while helping to lead the Gobblers to the state semifinals.
He's continued to improve during his college career, both mentally and physically.
The 6-foot-2 Armstrong played at 180 pounds in high school and has grown to 202 pounds.
He's kept his flexibility by continuing to high jump and finished second in last spring's LSC meet by clearing 6 feet 9 inches.
"I've learned to read coverages on the go and I've spent a lot of time on strength and conditioning," Armstrong said. "I've gotten bigger, stronger and faster. I've also learned ways to run routes against coverage and how to manipulate the defensive backs."
Armstrong has also become a better blocker, which he knows is critical to play on the professional level.
"I look at blocking as kind of part of growing up," Armstrong said. "If you're not blocking, you're being selfish. It's just want to and being unselfish."
The strides Armstrong has made in football parallel the progress he has made in the classroom. Armstrong is on track to graduate next fall with a degree in sociology.
"I am very proud of Robert's accomplishments this season," said A&M-Kingsville head coach Bo Atterberry. "He is a tremendous athlete and a tremendous young man. Robert is a great example of what we look for in student-athletes and I look forward to his senior season."
Armstrong has been busy getting ready for final exams and for A&M-Kingsville's junior pro day, which will be held next week.
"I've become a lot more physical," he said. "I've learned the biggest part of being a receiver whether you're playing in college or at the next level is what you do after you catch the ball."
Armstrong is hoping to lead the Javelinas back into the playoffs for the first time since his freshman season and to get the chance to play professionally.
But whatever he does after graduating, he won't forget where he started.
"What I'm doing here," he said, "is geared to making a better living for my family back home."
Mike Forman is a sports writer for the Victoria Advocate. Contact him at 361-580-6588 or firstname.lastname@example.org, or comment on this column at www.VictoriaAdvocate.com.