October 31, 2018
By Tim Chambers
Tomahawk Sports Editor
The last two years have been great for Johnson County football, and the same holds for their all-time leading passer. Nathan Arnold is now a member of the University of the Cumberland’s football team after leading the Longhorns to an 11-1 overall record and a win in the first round of the playoffs in 2017. Arnold was an All-State selection last season while helping the Longhorns to a 10-0 regular season record for the first time in school history. But this year he has gone from setting records to chart them, and he couldn’t be any happier. His team is currently 9-1 and ranked 14th in the nation in their division. They can make the playoffs with a win on Saturday. The Patriots chose to redshirt Arnold this season, but he still gets to travel with the team. Arnold feels like he’s been given the best of both worlds.
“I played on the scout team for the first two weeks of fall practice, but they moved me up to be a play caller that gave me a chance to know the offense because I signal in all the plays to our offense during practice.”
It’s a big responsibility for Arnold who is one of the very few redshirts that travels with the team. And he doesn’t just go to stand around. Arnold also has game day responsibilities.
“They put me up in the press box to chart plays and to watch our opponent’s defensive backs. I am to report back to our offensive coordinator as to what the other team is doing.”
The responsibilities have helped Arnold to further his game. He’s able to see what he needs to improve on in order to gain playing time as he matures.
“It has definitely helped me learn the speed of the game by watching them run plays in practice and on game days. I miss being in control of running the offense on Friday nights, but it’s like my freshman year of high school. You are playing behind good players and learning each day. Getting to be on the sidelines and in the press box has helped me more than if I had been thrown into the fire not knowing the offense that well. It’s been the best thing for me.”
Arnold participates in all phases of practice in addition to his signaling in plays. He’s absorbing everything like a big sponge.
“I do all the drills with the varsity players on offense. We go through several things during our two-hour practices and some last a little longer. You have session breaks but everything is nonstop, and you don’t stand around. It’s fast pace just like the games.”
Arnold is given the play sheet during practice and must signal the plays incorrectly to the offense. He also gets to play on Monday in what is known as the “Dog Bowl.”
“It’s like a red and white game where the second string and red shirts play against one another. I get to play the whole game, and that has been a great learning experience. Our team has won almost all of them.”
Arnold likes the Patriots’ offense because it’s a good fit for a pro-style type quarterback, which he was for Johnson County. It’s designed for the pocket passer with some spread, and triple option plays.
“They like my arm strength and size, but they want me to be more familiar with the offense. I have a lot of work to do in the off season with my agility and some other stuff, but it shouldn’t be a problem.”
Arnold is rooming with former Hampton standout running back Adam McClain. Jerry Lunsford, another former Bulldog, is also on the team. Arnold said he would like to coach at the high school level and teach history upon graduation from college.
“I’m happy here at the UOC, and it’s starting to feel like home. I couldn’t envision myself being anywhere else.”