The Georgia roots behind Jackson Arnold’s new uniform number

The Georgia roots behind Jackson Arnold’s new uniform number

Jackson Arnold grew up admiring a pair of Georgia quarterbacks who wore No. 11. It’s the number he wore at Denton’s Guyer High School, too.

Eli Lederman

By Eli Lederman

| Feb 26, 2024, 8:00am CST

Eli Lederman

By Eli Lederman

Feb 26, 2024, 8:00am CST

(This story originally appeared in Eli Lederman’s “OU Week in Review newsletter”. Subscribe here.)

NORMAN — About 14 months ago, I drove to Denton, Texas, and sat across a table from Jackson Arnold as Oklahoma’s quarterback of the future counted his final days as a high school student. 

We talked about Brent Venables and Jeff Lebby. We discussed his excitement about the Sooners’ offseason program and why Arnold felt ready for all the hype waiting for him at OU. He told me about his goal of collecting a Heisman Trophy and a national title before he leaves Norman. 

Then I asked Arnold how he fell in love playing quarterback. Turns out, those roots go all the way back to his early childhood in Suwannee, Georgia. That’s where Arnold took his first snaps under center with the North Gwinnett Bulldogs, several years before the family settled in Texas. 

“I was a big Georgia fan growing up,” Arnold explained. “So when I was younger, I really liked Matthew Stafford. Had a couple of jerseys. The Georgia QB line went on…I was always a fan of quarterbacks. Matthew Stafford. Aaron Murray. Jake Fromm. Guys like that.”

Two of those quarterbacks — Murray and Fromm — wore No. 11 for the Bulldogs, the same number Arnold wore at Denton’s Guyer High School, where he became a five-star prospect and Gatorade’s National Player of the Year

Next month, Arnold will step into his first spring camp as the Sooners’ starting quarterback, and it appears he’ll do so wearing a new, but familiar number. 

OU’s No. 10 is now No. 11. Indeed, it looks like Arnold will have new digits as he formally takes over the offense in 2024. 

Arnold wore the No. 10 jersey as a freshman last fall when he appeared in five games, including  his first career start in the Dec. 28 Alamo Bowl. Come Aug. 31, when Arnold makes his first regular season start against Temple, he’ll be donning the No. 11 previously occupied by Davis Beville. 

Arnold’s reveal on the new uniform number came via Instagram Thursday night. 

Earlier on Thursday, EA Sports began allowing players from all 134 Football Bowl Subdivision programs to opt into the hotly-anticipated College Football 25 video game. Per EA, each participating athlete will receive $600 and a copy of the game ($70 value). A select group of players will gain additional NIL compensation as ambassadors for the game, slated for a summer release more than a decade after EA produced its last college football game. 

That’s where Arnold comes in. His Instagram post came through a paid partnership with the gaming company, complete with a caption that read “I’m in the game”. In the bottom corner of the graphic that Arnold included in the post, keen eyes spotted a different number listed from the one Arnold wore during his freshman season. 

The number switch gets Arnold back to the number he wore in high school and his deep-seated ties to one of the Sooners’ future conference foes. It also prompts a few questions. 

Which members of the Sooners’ offense might claim the coveted No. 10 now that it’s available?

What happens to all the No. 10 jerseys with Arnold’s name on them we saw all over Norman last fall?

Who is the greatest Sooner to wear No. 11? Tinker Owens, Bobby Warmack and Teddy Lehman all deserve a shout, but the nod probably goes to Jack Mildren.

On the EA Sports front, Arnold isn’t the only prominent Sooner getting involved early in the new video game. On Friday, linebacker Danny Stutsman became one of the latest to opt into CFP25 through an Opendorse promotional campaign

Expect to hear a whole lot more on this front coming up.

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Eli Lederman reports on the University of Oklahoma for Sellout Crowd. He began his professional career covering the University of Missouri with the Columbia Missourian and later worked at the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette before two years writing on the Sooners and Cowboys at the Tulsa World. Born and raised in Mamaroneck, New York, Lederman grew up a rabid consumer of the New York sports pages and an avid fan of the New York Mets. He entered sportswriting at 14 years old and later graduated from the University of Missouri. Away from the keyboard, he can usually be found exploring the Oklahoma City food scene or watching/playing fútbol (read: soccer). He can be reached at eli@selloutcrowd.com.

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