As Damon Arnette traveled back to Ohio State on the Monday after the Rose Bowl, he was planning to enter the 2019 NFL draft.
Arnette had already said goodbye to his teammates and coaches, and he hadn’t flown back with the team from Pasadena. He had planned to pack up his things upon his arrival back in Columbus that Monday, with a flight out of town scheduled for that Thursday.
Arnette began to rethink that decision, however, when he received a call from former Ohio State great and Pro Football Hall of Fame wide receiver Cris Carter.
“He said, ‘Man, I don’t care what your NFL grade was, you’re not no All-American,’” Arnette recalled. “He said that as I was on my way to Columbus to get the rest of my things to leave, and that just weighed really heavy on my heart, and he was right.”
Ohio State announced the hiring of Jeff Hafley as its new co-defensive coordinator and secondary coach on that same day, and two days later, Hafley met with Arnette to talk to him about playing one more year for the Buckeyes.
Arnette canceled his flight, and two days later, he officially announced on Instagram that he was staying at Ohio State for his fifth-year senior season.
“After speaking with my family and getting valuable insight from Cris Carter, I have decided (to) return to The Ohio State University to take care of some unfinished business with my brothers,” Arnette said in his announcement.
Arnette has already been a starting cornerback at Ohio State for two years, earning All-Big Ten honorable mention recognition for each of the past two seasons. Had he stuck with his original plan and entered the 2019 NFL draft, he likely would have been selected in the middle rounds.
Arnette also recognizes that he hasn’t yet played up to his potential as a Buckeye, nor has he had the chance to compete for a national championship. He believes he could have the chance to do both, though, by returning to play for new head coach Ryan Day this season.
“I still feel like a lot of stuff, a lot of goals haven’t been reached,” Arnette said after being recognized as a ‘Player to Watch’ at the Touchdown Club of Columbus banquet on Saturday night. “It’s just unfinished business. I just know that I’d feel empty moving on without handling what I started off here with my team, and I believe in everything that coach Day got going on, and I just want to be a part of the greatness that I feel like is about to happen.”
Arnette believes that a year of learning from Hafley, who spent the last seven years coaching defensive backs in the NFL, will have him better prepared when he finally does take his game to the NFL in 2020.
“His resume really just speaks for itself,” Arnette said. “And honestly, I just feel like having that NFL coaching before, the NFL is something that I really need and I can really benefit from, and I think it will really show on the field.”
“I’d feel empty moving on without handling what I started off here with my team, and I believe in everything that Coach Day got going on, and I just want to be a part of the greatness that I feel like is about to happen.”– Damon Arnette on his decision to stay at Ohio State for one more year
Arnette’s career at Ohio State has been plagued by inconsistency, and he recognizes he needs to change that if he wants to be the All-American and early-round 2020 NFL draft pick that he believes he’s capable of being. He believes his final season as a Buckeye will be his best, but he knows he needs to keeps his routine consistent both on and off the field in order to make that happen.
“I feel like a lack of consistency has always been my issue, and that’s just something I’m really going to be working on this season,” Arnette said. “I just want to have a complete season, consistent season. Just playing free, like I know I can. Just translating stuff from practice onto the field.”