Nazir Armstrong knew better than to argue with his grandmother.
For some time, she’d talked about moving to Lake Ridge to provide a safer environment for Nazir and his younger brother. So when that time finally came, Armstrong agreed to go. But leaving wasn’t easy.
Since his freshman year, Armstrong had played for Freedom’s varsity football team and been a key component in elevating the Eagles into a postseason regular. Armstrong hoped to finish with Freedom, where he was a two-time first-team all-district tight end and second-team all-state selection last season in helping lead the Eagles to the Class 6 state final.
But he respected his grandmother’s wishes and enrolled at Woodbridge the last week of school.
“She’s been wanting to move out of the area,” Armstrong said. “Wherever we go, it’s her decision.”
Armstrong’s arrival gives Woodbridge some options. By choice, he said he didn’t play defense at Freedom. But he’s expected to start at strong safety and can step in at linebacker if needed for a Viking team that's deep and experienced upfront. He can also play quarterback, tight end or wide receiver on offense.
“It’s a good thing with how versatile and experienced he is,” Woodbridge head coach Gary Wortham said. “He’s a great athlete.”
Woodbridge senior linebacker Antoine Sampah agreed.
"He's ready to work and he's a good training partner for me," said the LSU commitment. "He's really competitive and that's what we need to push each other."
Woodbridge graduated starting quarterback Antevious Jackson, but return backups Ashur McDuffie (senior), Andrew Luisa (junior) and Josh Ramirez (senior).
Armstrong played quarterback at Woodbridge Middle School, where he rotated with current Freedom starting signal-caller Quest Powell.
Armstrong and Powell were both in the running to start as Freedom’s quarterback as freshmen until A.J. Felton arrived and proceeded to throw for 3,806 yards and 40 touchdowns and run for 2,255 yards and 37 touchdowns in leading the Eagles to a 19-4 overall mark that included the program’s first district title.
“When [Felton] came over, it was time for a position change,” Armstrong said.
He switched to tight end and thrived there. Last season, he totaled a team-high 37 receptions for 374 yards and seven touchdowns.
After slimming down, the 6-1, 217-pound Armstrong said he expects to play either linebacker or strong safety in college. At this point, colleges are still evaluating him on defense. But he expects interest to pick up.
“I went to camps at LSU, Alabama and Towson did well,” said Armstrong, who has offers from Division II West Liberty and UVa-Wise for offense.
Armstrong said it’s been a smooth transition into his new school and new team, which includes four seniors who have committed to Division I programs: Sampah, lineman Reuben Adams Jr. (Penn State), defensive lineman Sheku Tonkara (Air Force) and linebacker Rafeel Ampong (Towson).
“I know they have good coaches and a good team,” Armstrong said. “I felt like I could contribute something. I wasn’t nervous.”