Nathan Arnold signs with the University of the Cumberlands. Front row, L-R: David Casady, Ashley Arnold, Brenda Arnold, Nathan Arnold and David Arnold. Back Row: L-R: Athletic director and head basketball coach Austin Atwood and head football coach Don Kerley. Photo by Tim Chambers.

By Tim Chambers


John Hancock was a famous Patriot during the American Revolution. One Johnson County Longhorn is determined to be another successful Patriot next fall in Williamsburg, Kentucky.

Johnson County’s all-state quarterback Nathan Arnold signed his “John Hancock” on scholarship papers Friday afternoon to play football for the University of the Cumberlands beside family, coaches, teammates, and friends inside the school library.

Arnold left his mark as a three-year starter and is hoping to duplicate that type of success for the Patriots.

He helped the Longhorns achieve their first undefeated regular season ever as the starting quarterback. His team ran the table winning their first ten games and went 11-1 losing in the second round of the state playoffs to Austin East.

Arnold completed 152-of-245 passes for 2112 yards and 22 touchdowns. He was co-player of the year in the Mountain Six Conference, a member of the Johnson City Press Elite 11 squad and player of the year on the All Johnson/Carter County squad.

He threw for over 5400 yards as a three-year starter and 47 touchdowns. He’s the all-time leader for yards passing in a season and for his career.

Johnson County’s head coach Don Kerley is expecting good things for Arnold at the next level. He agreed it was an honor to have coached him.

“We are excited for Nathan because he worked so hard to get there,” said Kerley. “He’s a great player that knows a lot about football and has excellent grades. Nate was a good leader both on and off the field. I am hoping that we don’t step too far behind after losing a player like him. We’re hoping he has a great career at the University of the Cumberlands. They’re getting an excellent football player and leader. We’ll all be pulling for him.”

Arnold took several visits to different schools but knew the Cumberlands was where his heart was. He said that it was more than just football.

“They have great coaches, a nice campus, and a beautiful football facility,” said Arnold. They also made me feel at home. The coaching staff stressed God first, school and then football. They want to make me into a man more than just a football player. I’m excited about playing for them.”

Arnold has been the quarterback for Johnson County teams since knee high to a grasshopper. He said that playing in college has always been a dream.

“I dreamed of playing college football ever since I was little and it didn’t matter where,” said Arnold. “I didn’t know if it would happen or not. My sophomore year was rough and my junior year was even rougher. But my senior year was special and now this. It couldn’t get any better.”

Arnold began playing school ball as the starting quarterback for Matt Bray’s junior high Longhorns. He touched on the special time there and at the high school.

“Coach Bray one of my biggest mentors. He taught me and then he passed me over to Coach Kerley. It was exciting to see him have success this season after a few years of struggling. He gave us the ball and told us to make plays. He’s a huge reason that we won 11 games this year.”

Arnold was quick to praise his teammates as well.

“I want to thank my teammates and coaching staff because I couldn’t have done this without them,” said Arnold. I’m humbled, and I’m excited. I want to thank the fans that stood behind us during the good times and the bad. I owe a lot to so many.”

Arnold will see a few familiar faces at the Cumberlands. Hampton’s Adam McClain and Jerry Lunsford are members of the Patriots squad.

“I know some of the people there, and they’re all good players. I’m looking forward to getting to know them better and working with them. That helps considering that I will be nearly four hours away from home. I’m sure we will all get along just fine.”

Nathan is the son of David and Brenda Arnold. His sister, Ashley was a standout softball player at Johnson County and Milligan College.

His parents were happy about his selection.

“I’m excited for him, but the distance is a little longer than I wanted,” said Brenda. “The coaches are excellent, and I know he’ll be in good hands. I am very excited about his choice.”

David added. “It all felt right from the very first prospect camp, going to the game day visit and back to the official visit. We were impressed with the coaching staff, and they’re Christian standards.”

Arnold hopes that his career might bring other opportunities to future Longhorn gridiron players.

“I hope this brings some exposure to our school and athletic programs. I am hoping that some of the kids that come up here have those same goals and dream that I did. I hope I can help get them to this level.”

Arnold added, “I want to get a good education and become a better football player, but I’m more concerned about becoming a better man and a better Christian. All those things are important to me. I want to make the most of this.”

Spoken like a real Patriot.