UM FOOTBALL

Miami Hurricanes dismiss safety Ray-Ray Armstrong

 

Senior Ray-Ray Armstrong was kicked off the team about a month after reportedly discussing interaction with a booster.

WEB VOTE Should UM football coach Al Golden ban players from using Twitter like former coach Randy Shannon did?

mnavarro@MiamiHerald.com

Ray-Ray Armstrong’s troublesome football career at the University of Miami is over.

The senior safety was kicked off the team Wednesday morning — about a month after InsideTheU.com reported that he discussed interaction with a booster via Twitter.

Although UM has yet to explain why Armstrong was dismissed, the school did say he can continue to be enrolled as a scholarship student to complete his degree. Should he elect to transfer to another institution, UM said it would grant him a full release.

Reached by phone Wednesday afternoon, Armstrong’s father, Albert Armstrong, said he had no idea what his son planned to do next. He could have entered the NFL’s Supplemental Draft last Thursday had UM revealed its plans to dismiss him from the team a couple weeks ago. Now, it’s more likely Armstrong will transfer to another school — likely a Football Championship Subdivision program — so he can play out his senior year.

“I’m just trying to gather the information right now, see what we’re going to do moving forward,” Albert Armstrong said. “I’ll let you know when we have a better idea.”

Great promise

Despite drawing comparisons to the late Sean Taylor when he was one of the country’s most coveted recruits at Sanford Seminole High (Rivals.com rated him 13th overall in the Class of 2009 regardless of position), Armstrong (6-4, 215) failed to live up to expectations at Miami.

Although he was a candidate for several national preseason awards last year, he was suspended by the NCAA for the first four games of the season for accepting impermissible benefits from former booster Nevin Shapiro, whose relationship with the University of Miami is the subject of an ongoing NCAA investigation.

Armstrong was later suspended in November for one game after going to dinner at Prime 112 steakhouse in Miami Beach with a friend who owns a public relations company that works with professional athletes, then tweeting about the dinner. He was later cleared of wrongdoing in that instance.

He finished last season with 34 tackles, an interception and a fumble recovery in seven games. Many believed Armstrong would enter the NFL Draft after the 2011 season, but he chose to remain with the Hurricanes.

Earlier this month, Armstrong was named to the preseason watch list for the Bednarink Award, given annually to the nation’s top defensive player. In the spring game in April, he had an interception and a fumble recovery and finished the spring listed first on the depth chart.

Defensive backs coach Paul Williams said in May that Armstrong had shown improvement this spring but still needed to be more disciplined.

“Just run the package, that’s what I tell him,” Williams said. “Every now and then he wants to be too aggressive. He just needs to run the defense. But he’s gotten better. Looks like he’s bought in. We need him to step up and be a leader.”

Armstrong played in 30 games in his career at UM and finished with 134 career tackles, two forced fumbles, six pass deflections and four interceptions. He finished third on the team with 79 tackles in 2010 and was named All-ACC Second Team — his most productive season.

Other options

With Armstrong gone, the Canes likely will turn first to redshirt junior A.J. Highsmith, who switched to safety last season after serving as a backup quarterback his first two seasons. Highsmith, the son of Canes legend Alonzo Highsmith, finished with 12 tackles in 11 games last season. He was listed second on the team’s depth chart at free safety behind Armstrong.

Fifth-year senior Vaughn Telemaque, who has started all 25 games in the past two seasons, is the team’s other starting safety.

Other returning veterans include Kacy Rodgers (6-2, 213, Jr.) and Andrew Swasey (5-10, 205, Sr.).

UM recruited seven defensive backs in their 2012 signing class. Former Miami Columbus standout Deon Bush was the top-rated safety in the group. Bush was ranked sixth overall at his position by Rivals.com.

UM’s fall practice begins Aug. 3.

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