Campus Corner

Border War persists … for one night on the recruiting trail

Dorance Armstrong
Dorance Armstrong

You probably know that college football recruiting can be a strange endeavor. On Wednesday’s national signing day, one recruit flipped a coin to determine his college choice. One recruit announced his decision on national television in the morning — only to wait all afternoon to fax in his letter. And for at least one year, Snoop Dogg was involved.

This is not a new phenomenon, of course. On Wednesday, Kansas coach David Beaty recalled a story from back in the late 1980s, when a high school player in his hometown of Garland, Texas, signed his letter of intent while in a hot tub.

But for the Kansas football staff, the most Recruiting Moment of the last few months perhaps came during a home visit in Galena Park, Texas, a football hotbed just east of Houston.

Defensive coordinator Clint Bowen and defensive line coach Calvin Thibodeaux had traveled to Galena Park to meet with a talented young defensive end named Dorance Armstrong. At 6 feet 4 and 230 pounds, Armstrong projects as the kind of gifted, physicaly pass-rusher that has so often eluded the KU program. So as Bowen and Thibodeaux sat with Armstrong’s family, eating spaghetti and swapping stories, they realized this visit needed to go well.

“All of a sudden,” Bowen said, “there’s a knock at the door.”

The coaches looked at Armstrong, who was apparently a little sheepish. Somehow, Armstrong hadn’t told the KU coaches that a group from Missouri would be dropping by the house after they left.

Well, they were apparently early. Which meant one thing. It was time to stall. The Mizzou coaches could wait outside.

Bowen, who shared this story to Kansas fans during Wednesday night’s signing-day party in Lawrence, smiled as he finished the story. Thibodeaux kept telling stories, kept wasting time, until it started to look as if Armstrong’s mother was about to fall asleep.

Finally, Bowen and Thibodeaux left, passing past the Missouri coaches outside.

“I had to hold my man Calvin back,” Bowen joked. “I thought we were going to have a little throw-down with these Missouri coaches, which would have been the highlight of recruiting.”

In the end, Armstrong said yes to Kansas. For Beaty, on his first signing day as KU’s head coach, that really was a highlight.

“We were really fired up about this guy,” Beaty said earlier in the day. “He was not an easy get. There was a lot of people in America that were interested in him.”

To reach Rustin Dodd, call 816-234-4937 or send email to rdodd@kcstar.com. Follow him on Twitter @rustindodd.

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