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Small town, big dreams for Grayland Arnold

The former Baylor cornerback is excited for the upcoming NFL draft.

WACO, Texas — Growing up, Grayland Arnold was always a gifted athlete.

Kountze High School is known as a powerhouse basketball school. Arnold was a two-time All-State selection, District 23-3A Most Valuable Player and one of the top 15 basketball players in the state there. 

"My freshman year, I wasn't going to play football and he (Frank Middleton) was like, 'What?'" Arnold said.

Middleton is a former offensive lineman who played eight seasons in the NFL. After numerous conversations, he convinced Grayland to give football a try.

"I was like, 'Man, I like this,'" Arnold said. "I like to compete in football just as much as I do in basketball and ever since, the rest has been history."

Arnold became an All-State cornerback, while he also earned District Offensive MVP honors as a Quarterback and Wide Receiver. His freshman season at Baylor was quite an adjustment from high school to the Big 12. 

"The game speed was crazy," Arnold said. "Just adapting to understanding that you got to think on the move, you got to be able to react and make a decision and move fast. In the Big 12. It was faced paced, four and out."

He played in 11 games with four starts. Arnold tallied 20 tackles with four pass breakups. Arnold had career-high nine tackles (eight solo) with career-high two tackles for loss vs. Boise State in the Cactus Bowl.

"You can say that freshman year was tough but it really made him better," Voice of the Baylor Bears John Morris said. "He turned out to be one of the best defensive backs in the Big 12."

After a pair of shoulder surgeries forced Grayland to miss several games, 2019 was his breakout season. Arnold played in 13 games and produced a career-high of 46 tackles and led the team with six interceptions.

"I was blessed this last year to have one full, for the most part, healthy year and, you know, I got to show a tad bit of my athletic ability," Arnold said. "I feel like there's a lot more in the tank that I can show."

Arnold showed off his athletic ability at the NFL combine, running a 4.59 in the 40 yard dash. Several mock drafts have Arnold going anywhere from the 7th round to undrafted.

"I think they're going to get a steal there, from Grayland Arnold," Morris said. "Grayland has played cornerback, so he's got those skills and then played safety also. He can do pretty much anything you would ask of him so I hope he gets a shot."

Arnold mentioned that he has talked to all 32 teams, with at least eight showing very high interest.

"At the end of the day, if I get an inch, I'll take a mile," Arnold said. "I need to get my feet in the door, regardless if it's drafted or undrafted."

You can watch the 2020 NFL draft on Thursday at 7 p.m. on ESPN.

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