Armstrong anchors the GVSU offense

Bryce Derouin

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Grand Valley State University senior center Matt Armstrong may never score a touchdown in his career, but that doesn’t mean his role on the football team’s offense is any less important.

When you never hear about the offensive line, it’s usually a good thing. It means they’re doing their job and protecting the quarterback or creating holes in the running game, so in that regard, it wouldn’t be surprising if you never heard of Armstrong.

However, if you talk to anyone around the GVSU football program and ask them to name the best all-around players on the team, Armstrong’s name is sure to come up.

“Charles (Johnson) was our best player last year, (and) I think Matt Armstrong is our best football player this year,” junior quarterback Heath Parling said. “He knows how to bring a group along. He leads that offensive line group and the offense as a whole.”

Even early on in his career, Armstrong made it clear that he was a special talent. As a redshirt freshman, he was named All-GLIAC Honorable Mention and the GVSU Offensive Rookie of the Year. He would go onto start for GVSU in the national championship game that season.

“That guy is probably the only guy remaining that has played in any huge games around here,”
Parling said. “He knows what it takes. He knows what you have to do to win a lot of games.”

As Armstrong enters his sixth season in the GVSU program after redshirting his freshman year and undergoing a medical redshirt in 2011 to remove dead bone, his experience makes him an obvious leader for the 2013 Lakers. While he may not be the most vocal leader, the leadership he does bring to the team remains just as important.

“I just try to come to practice every day and lead by example, and hopefully others see me doing things as hard as I can, and hopefully they follow,” Armstrong said.

One of the most unique characteristics of Armstrong is his ability to be multidimensional. While he excels at the center position, there’s not much he can’t do when it comes to playing on the offensive line.

“He’s a dominant player that can play any of the five sports,” head coach Matt Mitchell said. “He’s definitely an NFL prospect, so it’s nice to have that guy up front who can do things. I’m excited that he’s back. He can make the calls and he’s at the attack point. If we get a heavy nose guard or something, we know he won’t be overwhelmed. He can handle that too. He’s a dominant player at Division II, so having him up front is a big thing for us.”

After receiving a plethora of awards throughout his career, including being named to this season’s Lindy’s Preseason First-Team All-American, Armstrong has still continued to refine his talents in each off-season.

“I worked on mainly technique,” he said. “As an offensive lineman you have to have great technique. It’s a hard position. That was my focus in the summer and so far through camp and the rest of camp.”

With new faces on the offensive line and the entire offense, the Lakers will look to lean on
Armstrong to lead the line, which could make or break the GVSU offense this season.

“We’re plugging in some new pieces,” Armstrong said. “We’ll have to gain some experience through camp with a lot of reps, but I think we got a lot of potential and if we keep working hard, I think we’ll be a great line.”