Two years ago, Arnold Harrison's coaches and teammates would never have guessed he would grow into such a steady presence that he could avoid attention.
"You talk about a guy who has grown in a couple years time. He has
grown tremendously," Coach Mark Richt said. "He just had a temper. He
would get so mad he couldn't see straight sometimes."
The high point of Harrison's rage, and the low point of his collegiate
career, came when he was ejected from the 2001 Georgia Tech game for
throwing a punch at a Yellow Jacket. It wasn't out of character for the
Harrison of two seasons ago. He battled teammates on the practice field
and himself seemingly all the time.
"He'll admit it, most of (his problems) were maturity issues,"
defensive coordinator Brian VanGorder said. "He had trouble controlling
As a three-year starter and all-state player at Josey High School in
Augusta, Harrison was the same way, but "I was always making good plays
so when I got excited nobody really minded too much," he said.
At Georgia, though, it became a problem. When Harrison made a mistake,
he fumed and more mistakes followed. Harrison's mood was more suited to
defensive end, where a fire in your gut is more important than a clear
"If you lose your head, you can't play linebacker," Richt said.
Georgia's coaches considered a position change, but at 6-foot-3, 225
pounds, Harrison was too small. Instead of getting bigger, he got
calmer. It all started in Atlanta as he was ushered out of Grant Field.
"It was real up in the air to where my career was going to go,"
said. "At that point, I felt like it was time for a change. I learned
that there are times when you feel like popping off that if you sit back
and think, maybe the next play you'll make a good play," he said.
the difference between being fired up and too fired up."
"You live and you learn over time."
The change has been all encompassing. Harrison has gone from a player
his teammates avoided -- "He just seemed like he was always in a bad
mood out there," Richt said. -- to the one they all turn to for advice.
Harrison knows Georgia's defensive scheme better than any of the
Bulldogs' linebackers, VanGorder said.
"He's an intellectual football player," defensive end David Pollack
said. "His attitude is 180 degrees turned around."
"When coach asks a question, if no one else knows the answer, you
always ask Arnold," said part-time linebacker Thomas Davis.
Harrison is filling the strongside linebacker spot intended for Davis
in the preseason. Harrison was projected as a backup entering the
season, but an injury to Kentrell Curry forced Davis back to safety and
opened the door for Harrison, who has 26 tackles, three pass breakups
and a caused fumble this season.
Richt said VanGorder describes Harrison's performance each week in
staff meetings as "solid," which in VanGorder's language is high
It's also near miraculous considering the Arnold Harrison of two years
ago would have been described as anything but.
"Arnold's grown up so much," VanGorder said. "He's just
"I'm headed in the right direction, I guess," Harrison said.
"Solid" Harrison matures into team leader
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