By Drew Chambers
After a surreal college career for senior linebacker, Curnelius Arnick from Dallas, Texas, looks to lead his Tulsa Golden Hurricanes to a victory in the Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl Game against the Brigham Young Cougars at SMU’s Gerald J. Ford Stadium Friday at 11 a.m. (CST).
Arnick went to Carter High School in Dallas and was very excited to find out that he would get to play at home for his last college game.
“I can’t even describe what it feels like to come back home.” Arnick said, “It feels good having family and friends to come out and watch.”
Arnick came into Tulsa in the 2007 season where he was redshirted. The 2008 season was the first year he got on the field, but his play was considered to be below average.
Tulsa head coach Bill Blankenship, then assistant coach, said that Arnick most likely had doubts like any other struggling freshman.
“Curnelius has been an incredible growth project.” Blankenship said, “He didn’t play that first year, he was on the scout team. I am sure there were lots of times like every other freshmen he didn’t know if he wanted to really do all this.”
Arnick continued to learn and “grow” into the system as he accumulated 28 tackles and two sacks in his first season along with one forced fumble in the 2008 season. However, in 2009 is when coaches really started to notice the type of player they had in Arnick.
“You saw him the next year work into a little more of an, ‘okay, maybe I can do this.’” Blankenship continued, “And his third fourth and fifth year he’s been phenomenal.”
His tackles sky rocketed in the next years as he was able to record 53 tackles and one sack in that 2009 season. In 2010 he was able to increase his stats even more as he led his team to wins at Notre Dame, Houston, and Hawaii and ended the year with 108 tackles, five sacks, and four interceptions for 134 yards and a touchdown.
Two interceptions for 106 yards, including the touchdown came in last year’s Sheraton Hawaii Bowl which showed coaches even more promise for this season.
Tulsa’s former head coach, Todd Graham (2007-2010), accepted a job at Pittsburgh after the 2010 season and coach Blankenship took over and immediately asked Arnick to be a leader of the 2011 team.
Arnick accepted the challenge both on and off the field which can be seen through his accomplishments this year include his team leading 142 total tackles. With this amount of tackles he ended the season ranked second in Conference-USA (C-USA) and sixth in the nation. He also ranked sixth in C-USA in assisted tackles.
Of his 142 tackles, Arnick has been unassisted on 91 of those which rank him second in C-USA and third in the nation.
Not only has Arnick accepted the role as leader on the field, but off the field he is committed to school. He has already received his bachelor’s degree and is looking forward to obtaining a graduate degree this coming May.
“Here’s a young man that actually graduated in four years, has been in grad school getting a second degree this season.” Blankenship said, “I’m not sure if you would have asked him after that first semester his freshman year if he could even dream of that I’m just so proud of the way he’s done both on the field and off the field, he’s just been a tremendous role model for our guys.”
When asked about future plans Arnick said that he wasn’t sure, but was ready for anything.
“I’ll go to the NFL combine and all that stuff.” Arnick said, “But I’m still going to be looking for a job.”
As a native from the DFW Metropolitan area, Arnick has already surpassed a lot of expectation. He is not prospected to go in the draft as of now, but he is ranked 15 among inside linebackers and 350 overall out of 2,691 players. Arnick is not worried about that right now.
He had a simple response about Friday’s responsibilities.
"I want to wind!” he exclaimed.