One huge target remains for Georgia on signing day

Tallahassee defensive back Terrion Arnold is the main target -- and maybe only target -- for the Georgia Bulldogs on signing day in February 2021. (Photo by 247Sports)
Tallahassee defensive back Terrion Arnold is the main target -- and maybe only target -- for the Georgia Bulldogs on signing day in February 2021. (Photo by 247Sports)

ATHENS —On the surface, Wednesday’s signing day appears to be the least impactful in recent memory for the Georgia Bulldogs. There is a chance they might sign only one player.

But if that one player turns out to be Terrion Arnold, it promises to be majorly impactful, and not just for Georgia’s football program.

Wherever the 5-star safety lands, he also plans to play basketball. And, by all accounts, he’s a major prospect in that sport as well.

Twenty-four hours from decision time, it was between Alabama and Georgia for Arnold’s services in both sports. Florida, according to Ed Hill, Arnold’s high school coach, now is a distant third in this race.

Explore2021 Signing Day: UGA signees list and updates

“Those have been his top three for a couple of weeks now,” said Hill, who also serves as athletic director at John Paul II Catholic High in Tallahassee, Fla. “Out of those, Georgia and Alabama have been the two that he and I have consistently talked about. You can tell he’s leaning toward those two.”

The world will find out Arnold’s decision at about 4:15 p.m. Wednesday. Hill’s Panthers program is having five players sign national letters of intent on the first day of the traditional football signing period. The ceremony is set to begin at 3:30 p.m., and Arnold will go up last. ESPN plans to broadcast his announcement live.

Arnold will be a major acquisition for whatever program lands him. He’s the top uncommitted prospect in the nation heading into Wednesday. Arnold carries a high, 4-star prospect rating in the 247Sports Composite, which averages the rankings of all the major recruiting services. However, he received his fifth star from 247Sports′ own ratings only six days ago.

As a football player, the 6-foot, 180-pound Arnold had 49 tackles, four interceptions, two interceptions returned for touchdowns and five pass breakups as a senior last fall.

As a basketball player, Arnold does not carry a national recruiting ranking. However, Hill insists he would be a 5-star if that were his primary pursuit. As it is, he averages 16.6 points for his school team.

“He is truly an amazing basketball player,” Hill said. “It’s unbelievable the work he puts in on it. Our first game of the season, we ended up blowing this team out. I’m sitting in my office finishing up some paperwork and half of the lights are off, and start seeing these shadows in the gym on the camera and I can’t make it out. I walk out there, and it’s Terrion. Everybody’s gone, the game’s been over 45 minutes to an hour, and he’s down there shooting free throws.

“I hollered at him, ‘Hey, kid, ya good?’ He says, ‘Coach, I missed three free throws tonight; I’ve gotta hit a hundred before I go home.”

Of course, Alabama is going to be tough to beat, as it is on the football field. The Crimson Tide’s basketball program is nationally ranked at the moment, and the football team just won its sixth national title under coach Nick Saban. Most “crystal ball” predictions on recruiting sites have Arnold heading to Tuscaloosa.

But Hill wasn’t so sure. He spoke glowingly of the job coach Kirby Smart and assistants Dan Lanning and Scott Cochran have done while recruiting Arnold.

“Every time Terrion laces up his shoes, whether it’s track, basketball, kickball, his family is in the building watching,” Hill said. “That’s what he’s all about; he’s a family guy. And Georgia took that to heart. They built relationships with his parents, his grandparents, me, our coaching staff. They’ve done a good job of building all those relationships. So, Georgia, to me, is a front-runner and has been for a very long time.”

There’s a chance Georgia could sign some other players Wednesday, but it definitely won’t be many. The Bulldogs signed 20 players in the December period and 16 of those recruits have enrolled for the winter semester. Based on that, Georgia’s class is ranked No. 3 nationally in the 247Sports Composite, behind Alabama and Ohio State, respectively.

There were some rumblings that Georgia could add a receiver, such as 3-star prospect Quenton Barnes of Antioch, Tenn., or a junior college or high school cornerback. But the Bulldogs just as well could decide to carry a couple of scholarships into the spring or summer on the chance that they are the beneficiary of the transfer portal.

Georgia’s Smart has done some of his best work in the February signing period. Jake Rowe of Dawgs247 on Tuesday detailed some of Smart’s best signing-day conquests over the years, which included Mecole Hardman in 2016, Eric Stokes in 2017, Tyson Campbell and Quay Walker in 2018, George Pickens in 2019 and Broderick Jones and Sedrick Van Pran last year.

So the Bulldogs can’t ever be counted out.

Meanwhile, Hill felt like his star protégé Arnold probably was fairly certain about his decision heading home to sleep on it Tuesday night.

“Honestly, I think he’s pretty close to where he wants to be; he’s just working out some logistics,” Hill said. “But I think up until yesterday or maybe today, he has truly gone back and forth. One morning he’ll wake up and it’s Georgia; the next morning he’ll wake up and it’s Alabama. I think he’s done that for a very long time.”

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