For about an hour Tuesday night, diehard Central Michigan fans thought they had landed the highest-touted recruit in school history.
Via live-streamed videos on his Twitter page Tuesday night, Arnett committed to six different schools, including the Chippewas.
On Wednesday night, from his high school’s media center in Saginaw, Mich., Arnett did it for real. With five hats sitting on a table beside him, Arnett pulled a Tennessee hat from beneath his podium, instantly giving the Vols their top-rated commitment for the class of 2011.
“It was so fun, man,” Arnett said in a telephone interview. “Knowing that all those people were looking at you it was so funny. Everyone’s looking at your every move. It’s so crazy.”
There was good reason for the attention, which reached its peak when more than 5,000 people tuned in to MLive.com to watch his ceremony.
Arnett, at 6-foot, 167 pounds, is considered the No. 2 player from the state of Michigan, the No. 6 wide receiver in the nation and the No. 60 overall prospect by rivals.com. He fielded more than 40 offers from across the country, but ultimately chose the Vols over nearby Michigan State.
Southern Cal, Cal and Michigan got their hats on the table, but Arnett said he had known for “about a month” that he would commit to UT.
“Everything about it I liked when I went down there,” said Arnett, who visited campus unofficially for the Oregon game in September. “With Da’Rick (Rogers) and Justin (Hunter) on one side and me in the slot, things can be special at UT.”
Arnett, UT’s second wide receiver and 18th overall commitment for the class of 2011, had 42 catches for 782 yards and eight touchdowns this season. He added six more touchdowns rushing and returning kicks on a 1-8 team.
He will be one of 90 high school players who participate in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl on Jan. 8 in San Antonio. Before that, he’ll be on campus for Saturday’s game against Ole Miss for his official visit.
“I’m definitely going to be recruiting,” he said. “Definitely if they haven’t committed I will be.”
UT wide receivers coach Charlie Baggett served as Arnett’s primary recruiter. Baggett’s NFL pedigree was the difference-maker, said Arnett, whose favorite NFL player, Randy Moss, played under Baggett with the Minnesota Vikings from 2000-04.
“He recruited my family more than he recruited me,” Arnett said. “That speaks volumes to them and it’s what he’s all about.
“His resume speaks for itself. I don’t even need to speak on it. Everyone knows all who he’s coached.”
And now Arnett will be next on the list.
Andrew Gribble covers Tennessee football and recruiting. He may be reached at 865-342-6327. Follow him at http://twitter.com/Andrew_Gribble and http://blogs.knoxnews.com/gribble/