MONTGOMERY, Ala. – Former University of Miami safety Ray-Ray Armstrong has enrolled at Faulkner University and will practice Wednesday afternoon with the football team pending a physical, according to head coach Brent Barker. The 6-4, 220-pound defensive back still must be cleared by the NAIA Eligibility Center to play for the Eagles this fall.
Armstrong, who played three seasons in south Florida, was released by the Hurricanes in July. He is widely considered to be one of the top safeties in college football. He was named to the preseason Chuck Bednarik Award list, given to the nation's top defensive player.
"Through some relationships that coach (Steve) Cheatham has, we were contacted to see if we would be interested in talking to Ray-Ray," Barker said. "After we researched his release at Miami and talked at length with him, we felt like being at Faulkner would be a benefit to him and potentially our football program. He's a really good student and a really good football player. We hope it works out and that the NAIA will declare him eligible to play this fall."
Faulkner president Billy D. Hilyer met with Armstrong and others Tuesday morning. After the meeting, Hilyer released the following statement:
"Coach Barker requested permission to talk with Aravious Armstrong, who had expressed an interest in transferring to Faulkner University and becoming a part of our football program. Mr. Armstrong would obviously be a good addition to our football team, and he has a solid academic record, with a GPA above 3.0. We spoke with him to try and determine if he was a good fit for Faulkner and if we were a good fit for him. He has since been accepted for admission and is enrolled in classes. There are still questions, however, relating to his eligibility that must be answered by the NAIA."
With classes beginning Wednesday, Barker and his Eagles will now settle into a new practice schedule. Wednesday afternoon's workout, set to begin at 3:30, will be in helmets and shoulder pads. All Faulkner practices are open to the public.
"We'll now be able to practice at the same time each day, and will start spending more time on getting ready for our season opener," Barker said. "The heat has played havoc with us during two-a-days, so we've had to change practice times and have really had a weird schedule lately. It'll be nice to settle into a routine."
Faulkner's season opener is set for Sept. 1 against UVA-Wise in Wise, Va. The Eagles host Lindsey Wilson in their home opener on Sept. 22, the first game scheduled in Faulkner's new 4100-seat, on-campus stadium. The Faulkner junior varsity opens its season Aug. 25 in Montgomery against Atlanta Prep Academy.
NOTE: Photos added after Wednesday's practice.