BARNWELL — Julius Arnold couldn't help but smile and repeat himself.

"I've been waiting for this day my whole life," Arnold kept saying as the people assembled in the library at Barnwell High School kept pointing out how much he was smiling.

After attending countless athletic events at South Carolina State since the age of 7, Arnold signed a letter of intent Wednesday to play at the university in Orangeburg. When he makes the 30 minute trip to the school this fall, he'll be doing so as a member of the football team.

"It took a lot of hard work," Arnold said. "Growing up I thought I'd never get a chance to play college football. Now, working hard in the classroom and on the football field and outside of all that, it's a grind and I loved it. It's a blessing really. I thank the man above for giving me the chance to show my talents and continue my career on."

Arnold led the team with 101 tackles. He also had 13 tackles for loss and five sacks. His season was highlighted by a 12-tackle performance against Bamberg-Ehrhardt in a crucial region game and a 16-tackle game in the third round of the playoffs against Carvers Bay.

Arnold will be going to a place not only familiar to him, but to his head coach at Barnwell as well. Dwayne Garrick, who started his coaching career as a graduate assistant at South Carolina State, watched Arnold blossom from a freshman during his first year back as head coach of the Warhorses four years ago.

"He worked himself extremely hard in the offseason. He did everything the right way, and he's a young man of high character," Garrick said. "It's happening. It's here. His time is now. I'm very proud of him."

​Eric Russell is the multimedia editor at the Aiken Standard. Contact him at 803-644-2396.