NFL draft prospect Terrion Arnold says benching fueled success

INDIANAPOLIS -- If you're wondering where the impending NFL career of former Alabama cornerback Terrion Arnold might wind up, the projected first-round pick has some ideas.

Specifically, he's thinking Canton, Ohio. As in the Hall of Fame.

Speaking Thursday at the NFL scouting combine, Arnold said that Alabama's decision to bench him in 2022 in favor of teammate Eli Ricks had an enormous impact on the trajectory of his career.

"I got benched and I've been telling all the NFL teams that right there, it changed everything for me," Arnold said. "I kind of like to say I had my Michael Jordan moment. I write it down every day. Eli Ricks, that's my brother. But when I got benched and replaced [by] him, it motivated me.

"I write it down every day and say I refuse to ever let that happen again. And that's what's going to lead me and take me to getting that gold jacket, which is the Hall of Fame. The gold jacket, and I ain't talking about the one you could buy."

The exchange was the most memorable moment from a news conference filled with snappy responses from the affable but confident Arnold. The third-ranked cornerback by ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper, and the projected 15th overall pick in Kiper's latest mock draft, Arnold consistently exuded the self-assurance that made him a first-team Associated Press All-American. He said his confidence is an elemental part of his game and it's a quality he learned from his grandfather.

"My grandad was a roofer," Arnold said. "So, with that being said, I like to correlate roofing to football. My grandad always told me on the roof, no one's coming to save you. You know that if you lose confidence in yourself, you're going to slip and fall. It's the same way with playing corner and being a human being. If you don't have that type of confidence to come in and take over a room and have that presence, nobody else is going to have that confidence in you."

Arnold, who had five interceptions and 12 pass breakups last season, said there is a good basis for that confidence. One example, he said, was the way in which he competed in practices with former Alabama star Jameson Williams, the 2022 12th overall pick. Arnold and Williams were briefly both scout-team players during Arnold's redshirt freshman season in 2021, but they engaged in memorable matchups in that time.

"When I was guarding him and kind of hanging with him, he ran by me a couple of times," Arnold said. "But when I was guarding him and hanging with him, I said I can hang with anybody. And we found out later [Williams] was the best receiver in college football."