A former Iowa State running back with a misdemeanor criminal charge hanging over his head has transferred to Cal State Northridge in hopes of reviving a once-promising football career.
Jahi Arnold, a former Downey High standout who played sparingly the last three seasons behind Heisman Trophy runner-up Troy Davis at Iowa State, enrolled last week at Northridge and asked Coach Jim Fenwick if he could try out for the Matadors during spring football.
Fenwick, who has said he knows little about Arnold’s football skills or his personal background, said the player will participate in spring drills. Arnold has not been promised a scholarship for the fall, which would be his final season of eligibility.
“I’m coming in here real confident about everything,” Arnold said. “I’m ready to play and show everybody what I can do.”
His legal troubles stem from a Dec. 20 incident in which he allegedly assaulted a 20-year-old Ames, Iowa, woman, according to court records. Members of Arnold’s family said he was dating the woman at the time. Arnold, 21, has pleaded not guilty and a trial is set for March 13 in Story County, Iowa, Municipal Court.
Arnold said he has been advised by his attorney not to comment on the case.
The assault has been classified as “serious,” the middle of three levels of misdemeanors in Iowa. If convicted, Arnold likely faces a fine of about $500 or a few days in jail, according to a Story County District Attorney’s Office spokeswoman familiar with the case.
“If he proves this is not a big deal and his personal life does not pull away from the team, he’ll have the same chance as anybody [to make the team],” Fenwick said.
Despite the charge against Arnold, Iowa State Coach Dan McCarney had praise for the running back, on the field and off.
“He’s a fine young man,” McCarney said. “I sure hope things work out for him. I think he’s got a lot of skills and ability.”
Arnold redshirted at Iowa State in 1993 and gained 138 yards in 22 carries and returned 11 kicks for 258 yards in 1994 and ’95. Arnold (5 feet 7, 185 pounds) did not play at all in 1996.
Quarterback Derek Brown has transferred from Northridge to Cal Lutheran, which plays at the NCAA Division III level. Brown, a 6-foot-2, 190-pound junior from Lakewood Mayfair High, completed 11 of 22 passes for 129 yards and a touchdown in backing up junior Aaron Flowers last season.