Brandon Arnold has no plans to reflect on his time at Oregon State and his Beavers football career until he’s taken off the uniform for the final time.
His time spent getting ready for and playing in his final Civil War game is centered on one goal: trying to win.
The senior safety will play his final college game when the Beavers travel to Eugene to play the Ducks on Saturday afternoon.
“I’ll let the emotions and stuff go afterward,” Arnold said. “Three hours and change and everything leading up to that is focused on winning that game.”
Arnold came to Corvallis from Crespi High in Encino, northwest of Los Angeles, as a highly touted player. But he had to wait until his third season, as a redshirt sophomore, to make a big impact for the Beavers.
His first career interception came at Washington State in the sixth game that fall, in 2015, against future NFL quarterback Luke Falk.
His first start was three weeks later against UCLA.
“It was special, not only because it was against a team back home that recruited me. But because I finally got the opportunity to go out and show what I can do and contribute to the team in a way that I knew that I could,” Arnold said.
Finally getting on the field for an extended time meant more because of the long time and all the work he had to put in to get there.
“You’ve just got to trust the process and honor it,” said Arnold, who redshirted his first season and played primarily on special teams in his second. “Things happen, opportunities present themselves every day. You’ve just got to seize it.”
Arnold, a 5-foot-11, 205-pound hard-hitting defender, has become a team leader, particularly the past two seasons as a regular starter. He considers himself more of a leader by example than one who does it with his voice.
OSU interim coach Cory Hall said incoming recruits gravitate to him because of all the highlight plays that include him.
“Brandon Arnold is kind of a staple of Oregon State football back in that secondary. He’s respected by many,” Hall said. “His leadership and dedication in that secondary room, in that safeties room has been pivotal for the development of those young guys.”
The Beavers have three freshman safeties in Trajon Cotton, Jeffrey Watson Jr. and Moku Watson that Arnold as taken under his wing and pushed in the right direction, Hall added.
Teammate Kee Whetzel, an outside linebacker, says Arnold stands out as a leader. Whetzel has confidence that Arnold will have the next player behind him ready to fill his spot.
“He’s a solid leader. A lot of the younger safeties look up to him and the way he plays and the hard work he puts out here on the football field,” Whetzel said. “He makes an impact when he’s on the field, and he’s a leader to the whole team and not just the safeties.”
Teammates might gravitate more to a vocal player, but one who does it only with actions can also be effective.
“You can be a vocal guy all you want, and then go and do something dumb. Then it’s like, where’s your accountability now?” Arnold said. “You don’t follow that type. You follow someone that does the right thing.”
He said it hit him recently that he won’t be returning after winter break, reporting for offseason workouts and preparing for spring practices.
Arnold is finishing up his final classes at OSU and will soon have his degree in communications. When his football career is over, he hopes to have a job in real estate or pharmaceutical sales. Or the path might lead him somewhere else, he said.
But Arnold plans to first pursue a professional football career, turning his attention to training and preparation for catching the eyes of NFL scouts in the coming months.
“My love of the game won’t stop,” he said. “I’m going to go and try and do my best at the next level.”