MORGANTOWN, W.Va.–Many West Virginia boys dream of playing football at West Virginia University but not many get the opportunity.
Justin Arndt was one of the ones.
The Martinsburg native walked on to the football program in 2012 and worked hard to earn a starting position this fall.
During his five year tenure at WVU, Arndt worked hard and was named a 2016 Team Captain this season along with fellow seniors Tyler Orlosky, Daikiel Shorts and Noble Nwachukwu.
That is an accomplishment Arndt is proud of.
“Just knowing coach Dana (Holgorsen), the respect as much as he does, makes me feel happy about myself and where I have come and how much I have accomplished.”
The Mountaineer coaching staff appreciates Arndt’s hard work and dedication.
There has been no doubt that the redshirt senior linebacker has heart and deserved the honor. He has been a key component of defensive coordinator Tony Gibson’s “Dawgs”.
“Justin is a tremendous kid and I know Dana told you guys about the captains,” Gibson said. “There is no doubt in our mind that he exemplifies what a Mountaineer is. This kid walked on, just kept fighting. Was a special teams guy, got bigger, stronger, and faster every offseason and last spring when he took the field he won the job. He hasn’t given it up yet and he’s played his best football as a senior, which I’m really happy for, and just a kid that we wouldn’t have been able to get by with without this year. I can’t say enough good stuff about him.”
The road hasn’t been easy for Arndt but he kept fighting.
“I told people in the earlier years, coming from a walk on that I didn’t think that I would even still be on the team,” he said. “As a freshman, I didn’t think I would want to keep doing this so definitely getting to this point now in my life, you look back and think just wow. It’s been an up and down road but you wouldn’t change anything for the better.”
For the 5-foot-11, 215-pound linebacker this season has been a dream come true.
“I’d never thought I’d be here where I am now,” Arndt said. “You have your ups and downs. I didn’t think I’d be here on this team by now. You look back in high school and you can never picture this five years ago.”
This season was one Arndt never cold of imagined, especially when he choose to walk-on five years ago.
“Looking back at the beginning of the season, not really knowing if you’re starting and happy that you’re starting and seeing how much I’ve come to this point, just how the season has went, get nine wins and stuff like that it’s definitely something you look back on and think wow you really made it this far and how fast the season has gone by,” he said.
While the senior isn’t as vocal as some of the other leaders like Orlosky, Arndt has tried to be a positive influence on his teammates in his own way.
“Just off the field and during the games, I just try and make plays and bring the momentum and stuff like that, he said. “Just keep people’s play up and keep them in check and keep them in the game and not let them get relaxed and anything like that, especially being the last game.”
One day the senior hopes that some of the state’s youth will look at how far he has come and maybe shoot for the stars too.