CHAMPAIGN (WCIA) — Jafar Armstrong has long been familiar with Illinois, and now he calls it home. The former Top 500 national recruit out of Kansas visited Lovie Smith’s first Illini team in 2016 before committing to Notre Dame in January 2017. Now the 6-foot-1, 220-pound receiver is preparing to play for the Illini after transferring from the Irish earlier this year.
“I got recruited by Illinois two coaching staffs prior, I’ve had a little bit of experience with Champaign,” Armstrong said. “With Coach B coming in, I’ve heard about his reputation, he’s won a lot of Big Ten games, and Coach (George) McDonald, I’ve had former teammates who have played with him who have done nothing but rave and compliment him. I felt like it would be the perfect relationship to be here.”
Armstrong brings some much needed experience, speed, depth and talent to the retooled Illinois receiving room. Receivers coach George McDonald has overhauled his group since arriving on campus, adding several players to his group including Armstrong, former quarterback Isaiah Williams and defensive back Marquez Beason, to go along with Casey Washington, who rejoined the team after originally transferring to Wake Forest.
Changing positions is also part of Armstrong’s offseason plan. He primarily played running back at Notre Dame, rushing 135 times for 513 yards and nine touchdowns in three seasons. He did catch 30 passes for 294 yards as well but most of his production came as a redshirt freshman in 2018 when he averaged 5.3 yards per carry, scoring seven times.
Armstrong joins a core of Illini receivers in Brian Hightower, Donny Navarro, Isaiah Williams, Casey Washington and Khmari Thompson who should lead the group this season.