Arik Armstead is ready for the rest of his life.
With ambition in his tone, the 6-foot-8, 290-pound national football recruit informed his Pleasant Grove Eagles basketball coaches and teammates that he had grabbed his last high school rebound and fired his final outlet, a decision both player and team anticipated.
Armstead took a red-eye flight Thursday night to Alabama to check out the 2010 national champion Auburn Tigers of the Southeastern Conference.
He'll sift through the academic paperwork, stroll the campus, survey the town and have a courtside seat to a Tigers basketball game, as he is being courted to showcase his hoop skills, too.
It's Armstead's final recruiting trip, like a job interview to shape the next five years of his life and beyond.
By Sunday evening, upon settling back into his Elk Grove home, Armstead said he will know his next mailing address. Cal in Berkeley? Oregon in Eugene, Ore.? Notre Dame in South Bend, Ind.? Auburn? Alabama?
"It'll be a load off my mind, and I'll be satisfied with my decision," Armstead said.
Here's what makes Armstead's situation unusual, beyond the label as a top-five national recruit by some recruiting services: He's set to graduate from Pleasant Grove any day, meaning he could be back on a plane Monday or take a quick drive to the Bay Area. Or Eugene. You get the drift.
And there's this aspect: family. Armstead is especially close to older brother Armond, a former Pleasant Grove star lineman who started on the defensive line at USC for two seasons.
Armond is looking to transfer from USC after not suiting up this past fall because of an undisclosed medical condition. He has been cleared to compete, the Armstead family has said.
Armond flew to Auburn with his younger brother. Their dream is to play one year together. Auburn? Cal? The intrigue continues.
"We never really thought about it before because (of the age difference)," Armstead said. "It would be great."
Enrolling in a major university in the dead of winter instead of the heat of summer has become the new trend among national recruits.
"I want to get into college and start school," Arik Armstead said.
And the prep basketball team he is leaving behind, the winner of 10 consecutive games entering Friday and a serious Northern California large-school contender with or without him?
"I want to be there helping my team, but my teammates understand (my decision)," Armstead said. "They'll continue to do great things without me."
Leaving high school early isn't for everyone. Grant's Shaq Thompson the region's other big-time recruit, who's headed to Cal said he wants to "maximize" his senior experience. He's looking forward to playing baseball and running track for the Pacers.
Cosumnes Oaks cornerback Marcus Rios will enroll at UCLA in March just in time for spring ball. He is that eager to get on board with new coach Jim Mora.
Whitney quarterback Jake Rodrigues last week enrolled at Oregon, saying he is "thrilled" to get to Eugene early.
Whitney coach Mike Gimenez attended some practices leading up to the Under Armour All-America Game a showcase for prep seniors, including Whitney tight end and college recruit Jalen Cope-Fitzpatrick last week in Florida.
Gimenez said he was astonished at the skill, size and ferocity of the players, several of whom will enroll in college early.
"They're insanely good, just freak athletes, and I'm thinking, 'OK, he'll be a first-round pick someday,' " Gimenez said. "Some guys have NFL bodies right now. I saw some of the hardest hits and best plays in my life. I didn't know high school kids could be that great and that big and skilled.
"When I was in high school (at Woodland in the mid-1980s), no one graduated early," Gimenez continued. "Now I'm old, and times have changed. For guys like Jake Rodrigues, enrolling early is a great opportunity. He's mature enough, he's ready, and you learn your position in the spring, not just the fall. It was a no-brainer for him."
And a no-brainer for Armstead.