SAGINAW - Blue chip wide receiver recruit DeAnthony Arnett announced on Wednesday night at a press conference at Saginaw High School that he will attend Tennessee next fall. He said Michigan State came in second.
Below is a transcript of his press conference, plus additional quotes that took place off the podium:
Arnett:"First I want to elaborate on each school."
[The hats were arranged with Michigan closest to the podium, followed by Tennessee, Michigan State, USC and California. He talked about each school in that order.]
"It was a tough decision and I had to do what was best for me in the end. First, Michigan. As many of you know, all the media people said once before that they were out, but that was never the case. They were always in. Me and Coach Jackson, their running backs coach, always had a great relationship. Coach Rich Rodriguez, I went up there last week for a visit and they put up 67 points, a basketball score, and my eyes lit up. Michigan is a great place.
"Next, Tennessee, I went up there for the Oregon game on a visit and I kind of liked everything about Tennessee, a new coaching staff. I had went there my sophomore year when Lane Kiffin was the coach. That's how I earned by scholarship. With Coach Dooley and Coach Baggett coming in, they called (Saginaw head football coach) Coach Lee as soon as they got the job. He (Baggett) called Coach Lee and said, 'Who do you have up there?' And he told them it was me. Coach Lee gave me some great advice and told me to go up there and go check them out so I went up there and did that.
"They have great facilities. Everything is great up there.
"Michigan State (breaking into a big smile), the home team. Uh, what can I say? Nine and one. Coach Dantonio is doing a great job with the players that he has. He is going to continue to do that. Michigan State is finally turning the corner. I'm pretty sure everybody around the state is happy to see that.
"USC. I just went down there for an official visit. I had a great time. California is beautiful down there. They don't lie when they the weather year 'round is hot. It was hot. I liked everything about USC. I had a great time. Me and my family, everybody went. We had a great experience.
"Next, California. That was my first official visit. My first time experiencing California. It was about 95 degrees when I went to the game. It was hot. It was nice."
Arnett then thanked God, which drew applause. He thanked his mother, his brothers.
"I would like to thank my mom. What can I say? You have been there since day one. You did it all for me. You kept me well-rounded.
"I would like to thank my brothers, Ralph and Eric. I remember waking up in the morning in the sixth grade, I can remember you two taking me across the street from our house, going over to that field, 'We're going to catch this football.' I love those two. They keep me well-rounded and humble.
"I would like to thank my sisters for keeping me out of trouble. I love you all."
He also thanked his dad, his football coach, his classmates, assistant coaches and others, and thanked the 41 schools that offered scholarships."
Then he made his announcement, kneeling down and disappearing behind the podium for 50 seconds, and then coming up with a Tennessee hat which had the name "ARNETT" stitched in the back of it.
He announced that "next fall, I will be attending the University of Tennessee.
"Basically I have had this decision for quite a while. I have been tricking a lot of people lately," was the first thing he said after making the announcement, "especially with Twitter and Facebook. I think I became famous last night with Twitter. I think the media would agree.
"Coach Dooley, he is a great guy. He is going to help me become a man.
"Coach Baggett, he coached up at Michigan State and he had all the great wide receivers: Andre Rison, Mark Ingram, Plaxico, he had them all, nine 1,000-yard receivers. He coached my favorite wide receiver, Randy Moss, and Cris Carter. I feel like I have those same capabilities and he can develop me into becoming ... hopefully I'll get drafted one day. So that's it. (Applause)"
He then opened it up for questions.
"Coach Baggett and his ability to get me ready for the next level. Most importantly, he didn't just recruit me, he recruited my family more than he recruited me and that's what counted."
So what was going on with Twitter last night?
"We were just sitting down and like, man, the message boards were already going crazy. We said we definitely have to give them something to talk about.
"When I said I committed to USC, it was crazy, I got like 40 calls and a lot of messages. My brother had to turn his phone off. It was all fun and games, though."
How hard was it to say no to Michigan and Michigan State?
"Oh it was hard. Especially with the great season Michigan State is having. 9 and 1. Top 10 team in the country. It was hard to say no, but again I felt like it was best for me to get away from home."
Why is it best to leave home?
"All I can say is Tennessee recruited me harder than any other school. They made me feel wanted."
Did you call the other coaches?
"I got in contact with all the coaches. I tried to call a couple of coaches and they were at practice and it was kind of too late, but I will definitely call them after this is over."
Who finished second?
How long have you known you were going to pick Tennessee?
"I kind of knew for a while. I kind of knew for a while. What really shocked me is when I went there for the Oregon game, ad they had these tall, lanky players that were making plays on the outside but they didn't have anything on the inside, and that was killing them. As a cornerback, you can man up on the outside all day, but one thing you can't stop is the person on the inside, that's the slot guy. That opened my eyes a lot."
On Coach Dooley and the season Tennessee is having this year:
"He is sticking with the guys. He is not bashing them every time they lose. They are a young team. They have four or five freshmen on the offensive line and a freshman quarterback. That kind of speaks volumes about what the team is going to be like in the next couple of years.
"Definitely next year, I will definitely be on the field."
Did you look into the receivers Coach Dooley had previously at Louisiana Tech?
"I know one in Wes Walker for sure, when him and Saban were all at Miami. So I do my research of Wes Walker what he did for so many years. He lit up the Patriots for so many years that Belichick went and stole him."
When did you know you were going to pick Tennessee?
"Me and my family, we had a long discussion. I was just at home by myself, watching SportsCenter, TV, or something. They were all at my brother Eric's house. I think I was falling asleep. They called me and they said, 'Get in the car and get over here.' We had a long, long talk and we just thought Tennessee would be the right choice for me."
Were you hoping Michigan State would do or say something to put them over the edge? Were you kind of waiting for them to make that one last move to change your mind?
"I kind of think the decision was already made. Like I said, it was hard to turn down State. Home is home. Michigan too. With the great season they are having, they are going to be in a BCS game if they win these last two games. That's big for the state of Michigan. It was hard."
When will you go on your official visit to Tennessee?
What if Lane Kiffin were still head coach of Tennessee?
"(Laughing) Not to be mean or anything. I probably would have given it a different look. Michigan State would be the choice, I think so. I think they would have been the choice.
Was it kind of surreal to get the attention you received on the Internet last night?
"Yeah, with all the videos that I made last night, it was a total of like 50,000 hits in the span of two hours. It was funny. My brother was cussing me out, 'Why are so many people calling me?' It was crazy."
You're not joking or anything now, are you? This is it?
"No. This is it."
Are you going to try to be an actor or something?
"I don't know. After your football career, you have to have something that you have to go forward on and that might be something I'll have to look into (laughter)."
How tough was it to turn down Mark Dantonio?
"It was tough, man. He's a great guy. They did a great job recruiting me. As many people know, I've been up to Michigan State 30 times and I loved it. Every time I went up there, it was like family. And it was just hard to say no."
How stressful was this whole thing for you?
"Oh it was stressful. This recruitment has been going on since the ninth grade. I just thought it was time to end it and get it over with. Enough of the games, enough of the playing. But even as I pick a school here today, the recruitment is not over with until February the third. Anything can happen. More people are going to call. I'm pretty sure, like somebody posted last night, they are going to sic the goons on me."
Everybody thought you were going to Michigan State, but people didn't have a clue?
"They didn't have a clue. Like you said, the Twitter stuff, you have grown men watching your every move, that are 30, 40, 50-years-old. They really need to go find another hobby, man. It's kind of funny. Recruits have power, man. It's like we're the most powerful people in the world. What I did last night, it definitely showed it was true."
Did it make you mad when people were putting stuff on the message boards when they thought you were going somewhere else?
"No, you don't get mad at all, you just look at the stuff and laugh and that's what I did. I get on all of those message boards and I read everything, so all the bad things, all the negativity, that's all motivation to me. That doesn't bother me at all."
Do you think more will be coming tonight?
"Oh a lot more will be coming tonight. So what? I expect it. You have to expect it when you don't choose this hat (Michigan State) and this hat (Michigan). That's what you have to expect. When you are home town and you don't choose Michigan and Michigan State, a lot of criticism is going to come. I'm ready for it."
Can you repeat again how tough it was to turn down Michigan State?
"It was tough to say no. Dantonio is having that awesome season. Michigan State is finally turning that corner, it looks like. 9 and 1, two more games left and a chance to go 11-1 and go to a BCS bowl. I think it can happen. Dantonio is a great coach. He will continue to be."
Have you talked to him yet?
"I called Dantonio today. I guess he was at practice. I definitely will be calling him as soon as this is over to let him know. They got my email, though. And I'm definitely going to call. That's not me, not my character (to not call). I am going to call and tell them, 'Thanks for recruiting me.' And things like that. I'm not going to be a guy who doesn't pick a school and then doesn't call them. That's not me at all."
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