University of Missouri

Bishop Miege’s Jafar Armstrong decommits from MU football, commits to Notre Dame

Jafar Armstrong scored a touchdown in the second half of the state championship at Hummer Sports Park in Topeka. Bishop Miege won 53-21.
Jafar Armstrong scored a touchdown in the second half of the state championship at Hummer Sports Park in Topeka. Bishop Miege won 53-21. along@kcstar.com

The allure of the golden dome won out in the end.

Bishop Miege senior wide receiver Jafar Armstrong decommitted Sunday morning from Missouri as he wrapped up an official visit to Notre Dame.

He committed later in the afternoon to the Fighting Irish.

Armstrong, who committed to the Tigers in June, thanked Mizzou’s “coaching staff, players, and fans for bringing me in as one of their own these past 7 months,” but said he’s decided to open his recruitment.

“I hope everyone at Mizzou understands I have to do what’s best for me and I wish nothing but the best for them,” Armstrong continued in a tweet. “I have been a fan of Mizzou since i was little and that will not change. It’s just time for me to get out of Missouri and start my new life as a young man. Thank you and God bless.”

Fewer than seven hours later, Armstrong took to Twitter again, announcing his commitment to the Fighting Irish.

Armstrong, who is Rivals’ No. 77 wide receiver in the 2017 recruiting class and the No. 3 player in Kansas, told The Star on Thursday before leaving for South Bend, Ind., that nervous Missouri fans “shouldn’t be worried.”

“I’m just enjoying the last parts of my recruitment,” Armstrong said. “I feel like I’ve been slept on for a long time by all these colleges. It’s fun to finally get them all coming through. I’m going to enjoy the last bit of my recruitment, because when you get there there’s no more smiling coaches. They expect you to work and to win. I’m going to enjoy these last few weeks with coaches being all buddy-buddy with me.”

When asked how confident he was he’d sign with the Tigers on Wednesday, Armstrong said, “I’m not going to put a percent chance on it. I know I’m signing with Mizzou, so I’m just going to leave it there.”

Still, he was excited to visit Notre Dame.

“I mean, it’s Notre Dame,” he said. “It’s just exciting for them to have interest in me. You hear about how wonderful the campus is, all about ‘Touchdown Jesus’ and the football field. It’s going to be great to go down there and see what it’s like firsthand.”

Obviously, the visit with Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly and his staff proved more persuasive than expected.

Miege coach Jon Holmes told The Star it was a “very hard decision” in a text message.

“MU did a tremendous job recruiting,” he said. “Very tough choice for Jafar.”

It didn’t hurt that Armstrong’s high school teammate — Stags senior offensive lineman Colin Grunhard, who is the son of former Chiefs Pro Bowl center and Notre Dame graduate Tim Grunhard — announced Wednesday he was accepting a preferred walk-on spot with the Fighting Irish.

While some Mizzou fans reacted with anger to Armstrong’s decision, the younger Grunhard cheered the chance to reunite with a teammate he won three straight Kansas Class 4A Division I state titles with at Miege.

Armstrong, a Lee’s Summit resident and Rivals three-star recruit, also had visited Minnesota last weekend and boasts offers from Baylor, Illinois, Iowa and Kansas among more than a dozen offers.

Armstrong — a 6-foot-1 and 185-pounder who is a speedy deep threat on the outside — is listed as a four-star recruit, the top prospect in Kansas and No. 33 wide receiver overall by 247 Sports and as a three-star recruit by ESPN and Scout.com.

He was a productive player for the Stags, including more than 1,200 yards and 16 touchdowns as a junior, but he flew under the radar from a recruiting standpoint until teams started working to pry him away from the Tigers during the last month

Armstrong finished with 54 receptions for 1,277 yards and 21 touchdowns, set a state record for career touchdown catches with 45 and won the Otis Taylor Award as Kansas City’s top high school receiver last season.

With Armstrong’s decision, Mizzou has 21 known commitments in its 2017 recruiting class, which is ranked 45th in the country by Rivals.

That number includes Fayetteville (Ark.) High quarterback Taylor Powell, who was committed to Wake Forest until switching his commitment for the Tigers last week.

Last January, Mizzou persuaded two Boise State commits, running back Damarea Crockett and quarterback Micah Wilson, to switch allegiance to Mizzou in the closing days before the 2016 signing day.

Crockett set MU freshman rushing records with 1,062 yards and 10 touchdowns last season before he was suspended for the final game after he was arrested Nov. 20 for suspicion of marijuana possession.

National signing day for 2017 is Wednesday.

Tod Palmer: 816-234-4389, @todpalmer

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