Would you like to receive DawgNation news alerts? Excellent! News alerts will be displayed in your browser.
Jeff Sentell/DawgNation
5-star Terrion Arnold has a big decision coming up today.

Terrion Arnold: Checking in with the 5-star on the morning of his National Signing Day decision

Want to attack every day with the latest UGA football recruiting info? That’s what the Intel brings. This entry details a wide-ranging conversation with Terrion Arnold on the morning of his National Signing Day decision. 

Terrion Arnold got to school early this morning. It was set to be a big day, but probably the longest school day of his life in his 17 years.

He arrived early at John Paul II Catholic School in Tallahassee, Fla., and then used his blistering closing speed to hop in the car and get out of dodge.

“There were already reporters there,” Arnold told DawgNation. “They were talking to my head coach. I had to go ahead and get up out of there.”

The newly-minted 5-star safety (247Sports) is set to announce his college commitment live at 4 p.m. on ESPN today as part of National Signing Day. He’s the only realistic 2021 target left on the board for the Bulldogs.

Georgia signed 20 prospects during the early period back in December and enrolled 16 of them in January. The real traditional National Signing Day juice is all left up to Arnold.

Alabama, Florida and Georgia are the three finalists here. It seems to be a given it is a two-team race between Alabama and Georgia. There is a scattering of opinions and predictions out there about where he will go. Most of those are trending Alabama.

He said several interesting things in a wide-ranging interview with DawgNation. Since it is National Signing Day, we know everyone craves the short-attention-span theatre today. Arnold was gracious, as he has been throughout his recruitment, to share a little time for a decision preview story.

We’ll share the biggest takeout things he said first and dig a little deeper on a few key elements.

  • He made his decision approximately one week ago and has not wavered from it. 
  • Arnold said this was the toughest decision of his life. He thinks that choosing his wife won’t even be as hard as this decision. 
  • He told DawgNation he never took any school visits or no-contact self-guided visits in December or January. Arnold said his last school visit was just being a fan in the stands at the LSU-Florida “shoe” game from this past fall. 
  • In what should be taken as a big surprise, he said the ability to play basketball factored into about 40 percent of his eventual decision. 
  • His most telling comments about Florida were the new coaches. When it came to Alabama, it was a pair of assistant coaches and a few 2021 signees. Then Nick Saban. One of his key player contacts and links to the Tide is from a member of their No. 1 class that isn’t even on campus yet. 
  • The Georgia response on that same topic centered first around three 2021 UGA signees. The detail and tone of his voice seemed to go up a bit when describing those relationships with David Daniel, Nyland Green and Xavian Sorey. 
  • Was that purposeful? Or a feint? Arnold is a clever dude. The better term might be calculating. It is tough to know for sure with him when it comes to things like that. “I watch the words I use and the words I say,” Arnold said. “I know how they will be interpreted and looked at.” 
  • Arnold decided to tell no coaches about his decision. He said the only people that will know his choice beforehand are his mother and his grandfather. They will learn about it just prior to his ESPN ceremony. 
  • New Georgia defensive backs coach Jahmile Addae clearly impressed him. Even with his signature James Earl Jones voice. Arnold laughed when asked if Addae does sound a lot like Darth Vader. That’s what DawgNation has heard. 

In regard to this tweet below, he said that he hasn’t even told Sorey about what he will do.

“I was just checking up on him when we talked,” Arnold said. “Just to keep up that relationship. Because I mean that’s my guy. That’s my brother and man he obviously was just like, man, I just want to tell you wherever you go, I’m rooting for you.”

“He said I hope that is here with me. Just a relationship like that is special. Just to have somebody in your corner like that who supports you. That’s something to see there. I never thought this day would come, but for him to say that. That’s my brother, man.”

Now that we have the attention of the reader, let’s dive in a little further on a few of those topics.

Terrion Arnold: His thoughts on Alabama and Georgia 

Arnold has those three plugged-in guys at Georgia. What about in Tuscaloosa?

“I’ve been talking to [Alabama safeties coach] coach [Charles] Kelly and [outside linebackers] coach Sal [Sunseri] and personally like Nick Saban. Nick Saban doesn’t give anybody personal contact but I’ve got personal contact with him, too. I’ve been personally talking to him and he’s been personally taken up my recruitment, too.”

“As far as player-wise, it is [4-star LB signee] Kendrick Blackshire but he’s not there yet. But it is him and definitely “Kool-Aid” [5-star CB early enrollee Ga’Quincy McKinstry] and [5-star WR early enrolled] Jacorey Brooks.”

Georgia got Arnold on the phone with Addae quickly. He put a lot of sugar on his words as he relayed that conversation.

“The first day he got the job,” Arnold said. “I was the first [recruit] he ever spoke to and that dude’s voice is DEEP.”

He needed about two seconds to get through that “DEEP” part of that quote.

“He’s a family-oriented guy,” Arnold said. “Do your track record and research on him. He puts the best of the best out there to play for him. He has a track record like nobody else. So he’s doing his job. He’s very purposeful when it comes to doing his job. Man, he’s a great guy. I like him.”

Addae shared an open-ended evaluation with Arnold.

“He said ‘Honestly Terrion you can play any position you want to play’ and he said ‘I haven’t seen a tape like yours’ and he talked about my speed a lot.”

Arnold said Addae noticed his speed on tape. He wondered when was the last time he ran a 40. Arnold told him it was like two years ago when he was still 15 years old.

“He said ‘People just go off instinct of how fast you move but I don’t think people realize how fast you are,” Arnold said. “He was like ‘you’re one of those guys and I know it when I see players that you are going to be up in that 4.2 range’ and just for him to give me credit and for him to share my film breakdown and go over it like that with me was a blessing.”

“He is a high-character guy and for that to be the first time I met him, I automatically had mad respect for him. For real.”

How was he able to make this nigh-impossible decision without those no-contact self-guided visits?

“My grandad owns a business,” Arnold said. “I’ve been taught time management my whole life. So I looked at it like my marginal costs to my marginal benefits to take those late visits. Will I benefit from it? Do the benefits outweigh the time and energy it is going to cost me to take those late visits? For me, it was about the subject of do I need to overexert myself while playing basketball to go see those schools.”

How have these schools done recruiting him as a basketball player? Arnold, the wise young man who chooses his words with care, went vague on that topic. Especially given that he weighted playing basketball as around 40 percent of his decision.

“They’ve all done a great job,” he said.

He did not mention Georgia basketball coach Tom Crean by name. He did mention Alabama basketball coach Nate Oats.

The big crossroads here with Terrion Arnold’s decision

Arnold’s public comments on his decision have centered on a few keywords: Competition. Business decision. Relationships.

It seems like those relationships are being factored against the business aspects of playing for college football’s reigning modern dynasty in Tuscaloosa.

Georgia probably has the edge in relationships. Probably. There is no question that Alabama has the top spot when it comes to tradition and NFL pipelines. If Arnold chooses the Tide, he will very likely play for at least one national championship and even win one in the next three years.

That’s not a projection. That’s the Nick Saban resume.

DawgNation has spoken with Arnold at least 8-1o times over the last 16 months.

It always seemed like he was looking for the coaching staff and program which will push him to his absolute limits. He also wanted to play early. His best chance at playing time given the depth chart and the returning talent is at Georgia. Not Alabama. At least for his freshman season.

How did Arnold weigh all of those things here?

“It is just like that business again,” he said this morning. “You have certain partners. You know what comes with having that partner. It is almost like having a coach be that partner for you. You go through your background checks and your research on them. You know what comes with beforehand when you go into business with them. I’m picking the coach that is going to get the best out of me. It is almost like picking a business partner or a workout partner.”

There will be a unique commitment video to announce his choice today. He will also pick up a hat on the table in the typical ceremony.

What is he going to tell the lucky head coach when he speaks to them after he drops his news today?

“I am going to tell them you are getting the hardest worker in the country and I promise you I am going to have an impact like no other,” Arnold said on Wednesday.

Terrion Arnold-Georgia recruiting-UGA recruiting
Terrion Arnold was only going to tell two people about his choice. He was going to do that right before his live ESPN announcement ceremony. (Jeff Sentell/DawgNation)

Terrion Arnold: The mystery surrounding today’s decision

Arnold’s decision has been cloaked very well here. There’s a lot of mystery here and those that feel they know are very likely putting about three or four ends of the puzzle together from different ends.

Especially if he’s only telling two people prior to his decision. He’s worked to avoid the normal leaks and typical “Crystal Ball” and “FutureCast” picks. The popular 247Sports “Crystal Ball” feature only has three predictions at this time.

That’s an almost unheard-of figure for a 5-star national recruit like Arnold.

How did he go about locking down his secret here like it was a rival No. 1 receiver in the SEC?

“As a child, I always said I would like to cherish this moment,” Arnold said. “That’s even why I took my recruitment process out so long. I feel like when it is given to you or written in your heart that’s what you do. As a child, I’ve done that. The way I went about it I didn’t expect it to be purposeful or suspenseful or even this big.”

“I’ve always been talking to people and feeling like what is understood doesn’t have to be explained. So I went about my recruiting process like that. I mean even my family is guessing. Only two people and that will be my Mom and my granddad.”

They will know just prior to the decision reveal on ESPN. They will no literally right before he signs.

“I’m not one who opens up their mouth to the public,”  he said. “I’ve very descriptive and yet discreet on what I say during interviews or when people are talking to me because I know your words are everything. So I just watch what I say to people. I didn’t really expect it to this quiet, but you know me. You get what I mean here. I’m not just one who just shares information like that typically.”

Check out the incredible senior film for Terrion Arnold below. There’s no wonder why he’s a new 5-star and rated among the top 50 players in the country. He’s been the top remaining target for UGA on DawgNation’s weekly “Before the Hedges” top targets board since October of 2020.

SENTELL’S INTEL

(the recent reads on DawgNation.com)

We have a new way to comment on our DawgNation stories. To do so, you must be a registered user on the DawgNation forum. If you haven’t registered, please go to the Forum homepage on DawgNation and look for “register” on the right side.