Star linebacker leads defense for third season, focuses on team success

Since joining the Kennesaw State football program in 2016, redshirt junior linebacker Bryson Armstrong has anchored the KSU defense.

A native of Marietta, Armstrong was a key player for Kell High School. In addition to winning three All-State selections as a linebacker, he made an impact on offense with 1,408 receiving yards and eight touchdowns over his career.

“I’ve always been a defensive guy,” Armstrong explained. “I loved playing offense growing up — and I miss catching the ball every now and then, but I’ve always felt that I was a little better at defense.”

After a decorated high school career, Armstrong committed to KSU in 2015. He was redshirted for the 2016 season, during which he acclimated to the demands of college football.

“It was a big adjustment … from the pace of the game to the size, it’s just a little bit different,” Armstrong said. “It took some time to get used to.”

As a redshirt freshman in 2017, Armstrong was prepared to make an immediate impact on defense. He appeared in all 14 games at linebacker for the Owls. After leading all Big South Conference linebackers in total tackles with 114, he was awarded the Jerry Rice National Freshman of the Year and was an All-Big South First Team selection.

Armstrong received another First Team All-Conference selection as a redshirt sophomore in 2018, racking up 75 total tackles, 2.5 sacks and an interception.

Now in his fourth year with the program, the redshirt junior is an on-field leader for the KSU defense. Armstrong currently leads the team with 42 solo tackles and 70 total tackles. He has also accrued 1.5 sacks, one interception and a forced fumble.

Armstrong has embraced his role as a team leader, both on and off the field.

“I just try to help out the young guys … making sure they get a good feel for the program, letting them know what it’s all about,” Armstrong said. “[I also] communicate when we’re out on the field, making sure everyone plays hard.”

When asked about his growing legacy within the young football program, Armstrong had little to say. Despite his countless number of accolades, Armstrong is more concerned about the team’s goals and accomplishments.

“I haven’t really given too much thought about my legacy … but just knowing that I was a hard worker and that I cared for my teammates [is enough],” Armstrong said. “We’re looking for a conference championship and a national championship. The individual goals — I don’t have a lot of those, but as far as team goals, we’re here to win.”

The team has met its own goals, winning consecutive Big South championships in 2017 and 2018. This year, the 9-2 Owls hope to continue their success in the postseason.

In their final game of the 2019 regular season, the Owls will face Gardner-Webb University at Fifth Third Bank Stadium on Saturday, Nov. 23, at 2 p.m.

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