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By Andrew Thomison | @Andrew_Thomison

Sports Capital Journalism Program

INDIANAPOLIS — Alabama cornerback Terrion Arnold is as confident a player as you will find at the National Football League Scouting Combine. He gets his confidence from his grandfather. But not in the way you may be thinking.

“Playing corner, you have to have that, and that comes from my grandad,” Arnold said. “My grandad was a roofer. I like to correlate roofing to football. My grandad always told me, ‘On the roof, T.A., no one’s coming to save you.’

“So when I’m on that roof, and I’m on that eight-by-12, 10-by-12 and it’s a high pitch walking up there, you’re slipping on the fiberglass, you kind of get a little get a little rocky, a little shaky. You know if you lose confidence in yourself, you’re gonna slip and fall. If you don’t have that type of confidence to come in take over a room and have that presence, nobody else is going to have that confidence in you.

“So that’s where I get it from.”

Along with his confidence, Arnold’s production for the Crimson Tide last season stands out, too. He recorded 40 solo tackles, one sack, one forced fumble and five interceptions over a 14-game season that ended in a semifinal loss to eventual champion Michigan in the College Football Playoff.

The lengthy cornerback feels like he can be a top playmaker for any defense at the next level and at any position in the secondary.

“When I’m on the field, honestly, on defense, I feel like I can play any position, especially any position in the secondary,” Arnold said. “With that being said, when I line up in the slot, I know I’m kind of like an outside linebacker.  I have to feel the run, I have to set edges, take on blocks and I have to cover. When I’m outside at corner, I’m thinking about guarding my man, making plays for my defense and getting the ball back.”

Among the other influences in Arnold’s life is his younger brother, as the two played together at John Paul II Catholic High School in Tallahassee, Fla.

“We had 19 freshmen,” Arnold said, “and we ran a defense called ‘Funnel the ball to Terrion.’ So that safety background, hard-hitting background, that comes from high school and just growing up and playing.”

Making the transition from safety to corner seemed to come easily for Arnold, as he went on to explain how the time he spent in high school with his brother helped him get to that point in his playing career.

“When I got to Alabama and I made the transition from safety to corner, I knew that I could still be a safety,” Arnold said. “But at the same time, playing corner, I had to have eye discipline. I had to lock in, and I’m a very cerebral person.”

The former Alabama corner’s success hasn’t come without its challenges, though. Arnold remembers being benched, replaced by Eli Ricks during his freshman year after a poor outing against Tennessee. He has vowed to never let something like that happen ever again.

“Honestly, I’ll tell you this: At Alabama, in 2022, my redshirt freshman year, after we played Tennessee, I got benched,” Arnold said. “I’ve been telling all the NFL teams that. That right there, it changed everything for me. I kind of like to say I had my Michael Jordan moment.

“I write it down every day,” Arnold continued. “Eli Ricks, that’s my brother, but when I got benched and replaced for him, it motivated me. I write it down every day and say I refuse to ever let that happen again. That’s what’s going to lead me and take me to get that gold jacket, and I ain’t talking about the one you can buy.”

Arnold is expected to become a high first-round pick in this year’s NFL Draft, but for now, the talented prospect will continue to soak it all in before he hears his name called in April.

“This moment to me, it means everything,” Arnold said. “I’m the type of person that really loves football. I know to treat the janitor like the CEO. You never know who you’ll come in contact with, and at the end of the day, man, you just want to give your family a good last name and try to leave a legacy.”