March 1, 2012

Texas defensive end plans to decide soon

Jay Arnold wants to make a decision regarding his college home before his high school team begins spring practice.

Considering the fact that the Heath (Rockwall-Heath), Texas, defensive end is set to begin those practices on April 26, the trips he's making these days are taking on even greater importance.

Arnold, a 6-foot-4, 235-pounder, traveled east to Ole Miss last weekend to check out Hugh Freeze and the Rebels. The day in Oxford ended with the Rebels extending a scholarship offer.

"It went really well," Arnold said. "I had a great time. It was the most beautiful campus I've ever seen. The facilities were really nice. I'd say Ole Miss is near the top of my list right now.

"At the end of the junior day, (Ole Miss defensive line) Coach (Chris) Kiffin pulled me aside with Coach Freeze. They told me they wanted to offer me and I had a full ride."

The Rebels, Arnold said, join a list that includes Oklahoma, Texas A&M, Northwestern, Baylor and Tulsa as schools under serious consideration. The Aggies and Rebels, two schools that will begin an annual rivalry in Oxford in October, have one strong sales point going for them - Southeastern Conference affiliation.

"I would say it's a huge positive," Arnold said. "I've always looked at the SEC as the best conference in all of college football. Playing against the best of best, it's the closest you can get to the NFL at the college level."

Arnold said Freeze impressed him with the emphasis the new Ole Miss coach seems to be putting on character.

"I really appreciate that type of coach," Arnold said. "They know with me, obviously qualifying won't be a problem (Arnold has a 3.5 grade-point average and a 1910 on the SAT). They like the way I play football as well. (Linebackers) Coach (Tom) Allen said he really liked the fact I wrestle as well. He said with wrestling, you have to have work ethic."

The Rebels' new staff impressed Arnold enough that the state of the program Freeze inherited _ Ole Miss was 2-10 overall and 0-8 in the SEC last season _ won't hurt Ole Miss' chances to land the Texas native.

"When it comes down to it, I don't mind the fact a team has had a couple of losing seasons," Arnold said. "I treasure the opportunity to come in and try to turn something around.

"Honestly, when it comes down to it, I'm going to look at where I feel most comfortable, where I think I have the best fit."

Arnold said he plans to make his decision before spring football practice begins "so I can just focus on upcoming season and focus on getting my team ready to go deep in the playoffs. I definitely have some places I'm really considering, Ole Miss being one. When it comes down to it, I'll know when I'm ready."

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