Aaron Armitage played in six of his team's eight games in 2019 but made sure to make all of them count. As a junior at Blair Academy, Armitage recorded over 60 tackles, 30 tackles for a loss and 10.5 sacks.
Not bad production out of a guy who had to miss two games with a tweaked MCL. Armitage said that some college recruiters and coaches were worried about the small sample size but a second glance at the film proved to them that he's a force to be reckoned with.
Now heading into his senior season, there really is only one thing he wants to prove to colleges around the country, that he's a leader by example.
"That's one thing I really love to do and I think I've been doing it my whole high school career, just helping out guys when they don't understand something," Armitage said. "Making plays all the time and giving that 110%."
Armitage narrowed down his top five a little over a month ago and is deciding between LSU, USC, Oregon, Stanford and Florida. While there is no firm date on when he'd like to ideally commit, the Blairstown, New Jersey native said he wants to wait until November to not only see if the recruiting world will reopen but because he wants to be home when it is time for him to commit.
In regards to his relationship with the Tigers, Armitage doesn't go a day without receiving a text or phone call from someone within the LSU staff. His main source of contact has been defensive line coach Bill Johnson, who he's built a great rapport with over the last few months.
The vision for Armitage, should he commit to the program, is for him to play strong side defensive end to pair with Landon Jackson, Naquan Brown, Keanu Koht and Saivion Jones.
"They're going to be losing a lot of defensive linemen next year so bringing me aboard would really complete the package for them and help them rebuild with some younger guys," Armitage said. "From everything I know about them and what coach Johnson has told me, I have a lot of interest in them. It's hard to narrow down that top-five list because I've only visited Stanford out of the five."
Armitage's predicament isn't unlike what many are facing in the 2021 class. While the hope is to find a way to visit Baton Rouge in the coming months, there are really no hints that the recruiting dead period will be ending anytime soon.
Even though he hasn't physically seen LSU's campus, Armitage has been on a number of virtual tours with Johnson seeing different parts of the campus and facilities. While not being able to visit most schools in his top-five would make his decision much harder, Armitage has been doing his homework on all five programs and will feel comfortable with what he eventually decides.
"I just have to sit down and talk with my parents and see what's the best option for me and where I'm going to fit in the best," Armitage said. "It would be difficult but it's like my high school coach told me 'You can't go wrong with any of those schools. You'll get school paid for and as long as you keep working hard and give it your all, you'll be fine.' "
In the offseason, Armitage has been working out at a local training facility about five minutes from his house. One of the areas he really wanted to improve in as a senior was his speed and coming off the ball.
He added about 15 pounds of muscle to get up to the 6-foot-4, 255-pound range and has seen the growth in his game. Those Monday, Wednesday and Friday sessions have done wonders for his overall physical development, particularly because he gets plenty of one-on-one time with the actual trainer.
"That was a big goal I set for myself this offseason, was improving on that first step, getting off the ball as fast as possible to make the play or help make the play and I'm hoping I can do it this fall," Armitage said.
Armitage was able to follow most of LSU's 2019 season and like most recruits, came away impressed with what the Tigers did not only on offense, but on defense as well. Being a defensive end, the Blair Academy High School product always gravitates to the defensive line when tuning into a college or pro game.
"Just paying attention to how they work and how they move," Armitage said. "They've got big guys along that whole line at LSU. I see some of their defensive ends are 320 pounds, they're massive but then on the next play they'll mix it up and put in the quicker defensive ends so I really like that."
Through all of the zoom calls and texts, Armitage has also struck up a nice relationship with coach Ed Orgeron. Armitage understands the culture that Orgeron and the entire staff are trying to build down in Baton Rouge and considers himself honored that they want him to be a part of it.
"Every time I get on the phone with him he always takes me out on the balcony to show me the stadium, that's one thing he loves to do," Armitage said. "They always just talk about building the best team they possibly can and this past season they showed it. They're trying to build back up all of the seniors and juniors that left to the NFL and they tell me they'd really love to have me there. They say it'd be a benefit for them and a benefit for me because they'd develop me and I'd help them win a national championship."