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Arnold signs with Northwestern State
RADCLIFF — It was a phone call Marcus Arnold was not expecting.
Just weeks before the North Hardin senior football player had planed to sign with North Dakota State College, a junior college, Arnold found himself on someone else’s radar.
“The coach of Northwestern State (University) was apparently calling junior colleges looking for an offensive lineman,” North Hardin coach Crad Jaggers said. “The coach at North Dakota State told him he didn’t really have anyone, but there was this high schooler he was recruiting.”
A phone call and a trip to Natchitoches, La., later and Arnold had set his mind on playing for the Demons of the Football Championship Subdivision (formerly Division I-AA). On Wednesday, he signed a national letter of intent.
“It’s great. I always wanted to play college football and now I have that chance,” said Arnold, who especially wanted to play Division I football. “I feel like I always had the potential to play D-I. That’s what I’ve always wanted to do.”
Arnold was originally planning on heading to Louisville, where he would be a preferred walk-on before North Dakota State lured him away. But at 6-foot-7 and 290 pounds, it was ultimately Arnold’s size that helped him reach his dream of signing with a Division-I program.
“There were a couple of things he told me (he liked about me),” Arnold said, referring to Northwestern State University first-year coach Bradley Dale Peveto. “He said you can teach a player how to play, but you can’t teach a player how to be 6-7. He likes my footwork, too.”
Arnold, who Jaggers said bench presses 325 pounds, squats 425 and runs a 40-yard dash in 5.5 seconds, certainly has a lot of potential.
“His best years are still ahead of him without a question,” Jaggers said. “He’s a tremendous kid and a really bright kid.”
Jaggers said it was Arnold’s football savvy that helped him learn several different offenses while at North Hardin. Now, it is that same football savvy that may get Arnold on the field sooner rather than later.
“I think I will be able to play some my freshman year,” said Arnold, who will likely play left tackle. “(Peveto) said I might see some time as a true freshman.”
While playing time was certainly a factor in Arnold’s decision to go to Northwestern State, it was his campus visit that sold him on the school.
“I went out there and I really liked the school and the community,” Arnold said. “Their community really supports the team.”
The Demons went 7-5 last season, including going 4-3 in the Southland Conference.
“That was important to me,” Arnold said of going to a successful program. “I wanted to go some place where they had pride in their team.”
But Arnold won’t just be playing for a successful program, his new coach has also experience some success and he has a BCS national championship ring to show for it.
Peveto spent the last three seasons with LSU, two as the special teams coach and last season as a co-defensive coordinator. He has also had stints at Arkansas, Middle Tennessee and Houston.
“Marcus is walking into a good situation,” Jaggers said. “They are doing $2 million in renovations and are doing a lot of work to the facilities down there.
“I’m looking for some pretty big things from that team and from Marcus.”