For 19 days Jafar Armstrong had to keep a secret that would change the next four years of his life.
Armstrong grew up a Missouri Tiger fan and was committed for the past seven months to play football in Columbia, Mo., next season, but what happened on Jan. 10, planted a seed in the back of Armstrong’s mind that he would no longer attend Missouri next fall.
He just needed to keep quiet for 19 days after he received his offer from Notre Dame.
“It was by far the hardest decision of my life,” Armstrong said. “I’m 18 years old and I have to make a decision on where I’m attending college for the next four years. I was back and fourth on a lot of schools.”
On Sunday after his official visit to South Bend, Ind., he decided to reopen his recruitment. Hours after the Bishop Miege senior de-committed from Missouri, he announced, via Twitter, he will attend Notre Dame.
— Jafar Armstrong (@jafararmstrong3) January 29, 2017
“The weekend was the deciding factor,” Armstrong said. “I’ve always heard how wonderful Notre Dame is, going on campus, the prestige, the tradition and history it has. I had never seen it for myself. I had been committed for Mizzou for the past seven months, that’s where I thought I was going to land, but Notre Dame came calling earlier this month and I had to come visit.
“It was the total package from the athletics to the academics. The academics speak for itself. The connections and the networking Notre Dame has was an opportunity I couldn’t let go and I took advantage of the opportunity.”
The NFL would be a dream for Armstrong and thinks Notre Dame gives him a better chance at getting there, but even if he did he understands his career would be short compared to a career in another field and thinks Notre Dame will set him up best for life outside of football. He’s planning on majoring in business management or marketing.
Another reason for choosing Notre Dame was he’s lived in Missouri his entire life.
“I love Missouri and I’m always going to rep Missouri and continue to be a Missouri boy,” Armstrong said. “But I’m not trying to live here my whole life. I’m trying to go out and see the parts of the world. I feel like if I went to Mizzou I’d probably be in Missouri my entire life.
“If you get a degree from Notre Dame, you can get a job anywhere in the world because of the standard the Notre Dame degree carries. I lived a great life in Missouri, but I want to start over and start a new life.”
He is considered a three-star recruit by Rivals.com and is the No. 3 overall prospect in the state. The decision comes ahead of Wednesday’s National Signing Day. In his time at Miege, the wide receiver caught 172 passes for 3,744 yards. His 45 career receiving touchdowns are a state record. He was the recipient of the Otis Taylor Award, which is given to the best wide receiver in the Kansas City metro.
Along with Notre Dame and Missouri, Armstrong had offers from Baylor, Iowa, Illinois, Kansas and Minnesota among others.
Earlier in the week teammate Colin Grunhard pledged his verbal commitment to Notre Dame as a walk-on. Carter Putz will join the two in 2018 as he’s committed to play baseball.
“When you go to college you’re not going to see many of the same faces you saw in high school,” Armstrong said. “It’s great to have people you spend a lot of time with on the field and see them grow up and start their life as a young man. You just reminisce the times of high school when it was 7 o’clock in the morning during a summer workout and you’re dead tired and see how far we’ve come along. I love those guys, they’re one my best friends in the world and I’m glad we get to all see our success at Notre Dame.”