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Top 60 Countdown: No. 40, S Ray Ray Armstrong

As we hit No. 40 on our countdown of the Top 60 players at The U we take a look at freshman safety Aravious Armstrong. Ray Ray (as we’ll refer to him from now on, think Ichiro) was widely considered the best player signed by UM in its 09 class. He’s drawn comparisons to Sean Taylor because of his size and athletic ability. So will Ray Ray live up to the hype? And how much will he exactly be able to help UM this season?

Ray Ray Armstrong is UM's most hyped freshman in the 2009 class. > What we heard about him on Signing Day ‘09: Despite playing for a program at Sanford Seminole that had a history of losing, Ray Ray – with the assistance of UF-bound Andre Debose and fellow UM signee Dyron Dye – helped turn the Seminoles into the Class 6A state champions last year. At 6-4, 215 pounds, Armstrong was often a man among boys on the field at the high school level. And he did it all. He played quarterback (throwing for 1,297 yards and 13 touchdowns), safety (60 tackles, 2 INTs), running back (rushing for 1,044 yards, 19 touchdowns) and had a penchant for making huge plays. He was selected to the Under Armour All-American Game and soared up the recruiting rankings at the end. Rivals.com tabbed him the 13th best player in the country and ESPN had him 21st overall regardless of position. Scout.com rated him the 13th best safety in the country.

> What he's done as a Cane: Nothing yet. He arrived in June and began lifting weights with strength and conditioning coach Andreu Swasey.

> What Eye On The U expects from him in '09: There might not be a freshman on the team with higher expectations than Ray Ray, who has the size and playmaking ability to make an instant impact. Of course, we’ve heard the same things before about other players who didn’t live up to the hype as freshmen. Aren’t we still waiting for Arthur Brown and Allen Bailey to break out? Here is why I feel that won’t be the case with Armstrong. He’s been a flat out star against some of the country’s best athletes. Unlike Brown and Bailey (who were stars out in nowhere Kansas and nowhere Georgia), Armstrong did his damage against the likes of real powerhouses in Florida. The bottomline is there aren’t many kids who can say they were down 21-0 to Miami Northwestern and came back to beat them to win a state title. Only special guys can do that. Armstrong, like the late Taylor who led Gulliver Prep to an improbable state title, has that kind of special written all over him.

Aside from that, there aren’t any safeties on this UM team who can rival Ray Ray’s size. There are some who believe Armstrong might be headed to linebacker because of it. That could happen. But I think his playmaking ability and physical nature will be too much not to have as the last line of defense. This season, I expect him to make his biggest impact on special teams and playing in the rotation at safety. I would not be surprised if he's starting by the end of the season if Vaughn Telemaque or Randy Phillips sputter or go down with injuries. But its the future that is really exciting. In a perfect Canes world, there might not be a scarier down the middle defense in college football in 2010 than Marcus Forston, Sean Spence and Ray Ray Armstrong. Yes, get excited Canes fans. But if you’ve learned anything from the last few seasons – do so with caution.

RECAPPING THE COUNTDOWN
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No. 60: LB C.J. Holton
No. 59: OL Tyler Horn
No. 58: DB Jamal Reid
No. 57: DE Gavin Hardin
No. 56: DT Josh Holmes
No. 55: TE Richard Gordon
No. 54: OL Jermaine Johnson
No. 53: OL Ben Jones
No. 52: DL Jeremy Lewis
No. 51: FB Patrick Hill
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No. 50: OL Brandon Washington
No. 49: OL Harland Gunn
No. 48: RB Damien Berry
No. 47: QB Taylor Cook
No. 46: DE Andrew Smith
No. 45: DE Olivier Vernon
No. 44: RB Lee Chambers
No. 43: OT Matt Pipho
No. 42: DE Steven Wesley
No. 41: WR Davon Johnson
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No. 30: CB Sam Shields
No. 29: LB Ramon Buchanon
No. 28: CB Brandon McGee
No. 27: DB Ryan Hill
No. 26: CB Demarcus Van Dyke
No. 25: RB Mike James
No. 24: LB Darryl Sharpton
No. 23: DT Joe Joseph
No. 22: DE Adewale Ojomo
No. 21: C AJ Trump
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No. 20: CB Brandon Harris]
No. 19: TE Dedrick Epps

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