Better Know a Buckeye: Devontae Armstrong Has the Physical Makeup and Experience to Develop into a High-Level Guard for Ohio State

By Josh Poloha on July 4, 2024 at 3:05 pm
Devontae Armstrong

Better Know A Buckeye is our look at every member of Ohio State’s 2024 recruiting class and how they became Buckeyes as they prepare to begin their OSU careers this fall.

Devontae Armstrong has watched Ohio State every fall with his twin brother, Deontae, ever since he can remember. After dominating on the gridiron with national powerhouse St. Edward High School in Lakewood, Ohio, Devontae (No. 29 interior offensive lineman, No. 444 overall) will look to do the same in Columbus, as the pair will continue to be part of the same football team, much like they have been all their lives.

How He Became a Buckeye

Devontae Armstrong

  • Size: 6-5/303
  • Pos: OG
  • School: St. Edward (Lakewood, Ohio)
  • Composite Rating: ★★★★
  • Composite Rank: #444 (#29 IOL) 

A Buckeye fan since the moment he started watching football, a dream became reality for Armstrong when he received an Ohio State offer from Justin Frye on Jan. 13, 2023, following multiple trips to Columbus.

“Just watching Ohio State all our life, actually meeting the coaches and establishing a relationship with the coaches is just surreal to me,” he told Eleven Warriors following one of his visits. "We’ve grown up watching Ohio State since the day we were born, always seeing them on TV it really was just a dream come true to actually be getting recruited by Ohio State and when coach Frye came to our school in January and offered my brother and I, we just looked at each other and smiled.”

It didn't take long after receiving that offer for Armstrong to commit to the Buckeyes, giving his pledge to Ohio State alongside his twin brother just two months late. His lifelong fandom and comfort level with Ohio State both on and off the field played key roles in the decision.

"My favorite moment of (that day), and the whole recruiting process is when at the end of the visit in coach Day’s office after practice my brother and I told him we have seen enough and that we’d like to commit to Ohio State today," Armstrong said of the day he and his brother decided to become Buckeyes. "He jumped up with a big smile and hugged us and ran to get coach Frye. It was just an overall surreal experience."

The Armstrong twins join a list of twins to play for Ohio State that also includes current defensive lineman Bryce Prater and his brother Zach Prater, who played for the Buckeyes for two years; former walk-on wide receivers Gage and Luciano Bican, who played for Ohio State in 2018; linebacker Mike Sullivan and nose tackle John Sullivan, who played for the Buckeyes from 1985-88; linebacker John Epitropoulos and guard Ernie Epitropoulos, who played for Ohio State from 1977-80; and tight end Terry and linebacker Tim Vogler, who played for the Buckeyes from 1975-78

High School Years

Armstrong was a standout run blocker at St. Edward, consistently opening holes for his running backs while sometimes driving interior defensive linemen more than 10 yards downfield. He also showed the quick hands and footwork needed to thrive as a pass blocker with impressive athleticism for his size, though his high school coach views Armstrong’s power as his biggest asset.

“Devontae is more of a physical guy, he’ll devastate opponents on down blocks,” St. Edward head coach Tom Lombardo told Eleven Warriors in September 2023. “Coach Justin Frye I think through the years of getting to know him well, he wants guys that can fit different positions. I don’t think he recruits just centers, tackles or guards. You have the framework for that, but I think these guys are that in some ways. Especially Devontae, I could see him being inside or outside. He’s establishing himself on the inside pretty clearly now and doing a nice job with the stuff we’re asking him to do. The guard does a little less on the edge in terms of pass protection, and maybe you pull him a little more than a tackle and trap more. He’s good at all these things.”

While manning the left guard position for the Eagles over the last three years, Armstrong helped lead the Eagles to an impressive 45-3 record and three straight state championships. In 2023, St. Ed's averaged over 250 rushing yards per game on the Eagles' way to their third-straight state championship.

Immediate Impact

While Armstrong gained plenty of high-level experience as a three-year starter at St. Ed's, he will need some time to develop on the field and in Ohio State's strength and conditioning program early on as a Buckeye.

If he can acclimate to the speed of the college game quickly, he can provide solid depth on the Buckeyes’ interior offensive line early on. Given his work ethic and track record of success at St. Edward, there’s reason to believe he’ll be able to get himself ready to play quickly even if he ends up redshirting as a freshman.

Frye told Armstrong as a recruit that he thinks Devontae could play both guard and tackle but that he saw Armstrong primarily as an interior offensive linemen. Armstrong spent the spring practicing mostly at left guard, where he’s likely to be the third-team LG this season behind Donovan Jackson and Austin Siereveld.

Long-Term Impact

Like fellow freshman guard Gabe VanSickle, Armstrong's first shot at earning a spot on the two-deep will likely be in 2025. While Donovan Jackson is entering his final season as a Buckeye, Armstrong will have to compete with Siereveld, Luke Montgomery, Tegra Tshabola, VanSickle and any other guards Ohio State brings in for a spot on the two-deep in 2025.

One thing Armstrong has going for him is his experience starting each of the last three seasons for one of the top high school programs in the country. While his development at Ohio State will be key to earning a starting role, that experience could give him a leg up over other underclassmen toward earning early playing time.

Player Comparison: Rob Sims

A three-star prospect from Northeast Ohio, Sims used his work ethic and physical style to get on the field early and often as a Buckeye. Although he primarily played left tackle during his first two seasons at Ohio State, he showcased his versatility by moving to right guard in 2005, his third season at OSU.

He turned that into becoming a fourth-round pick in the 2006 NFL draft and spent nine seasons in the NFL (four with the Seahawks, five with the Lions), starting each of his final 80 games in Detroit.

While Armstrong won't necessarily see playing time as early as Sims, the 6-foot-5, 303-pound guard's work ethic, physicality and versatility gives him a chance to get on the field sooner rather than later and outperforming his recruiting ranking, even if it means contributing on special teams early on before proving to be a guard that Ohio State can count on.

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