Sports

Arch Manning commits to Texas: Analysis and what’s next for Peyton and Eli’s nephew

Arch Manning, the No. 1-ranked college football recruit in the 2023 class, committed to Texas on Thursday,

If Manning’s name sounds familiar, it should. A 6-foot-3, 204-pound quarterback at Isidore Newman School in New Orleans, Louisiana, Manning is the nephew of Super Bowl champions Peyton and Eli, the grandson of Archie and the son of Cooper.

At first, reports linking Manning to Ole Miss because of his grandfather and uncle, Eli, were prevalent, and Tennessee fans hoped their team could get in the mix with Peyton as an alum. Manning initially had interest in Clemson, Alabama, Ole Miss, Georgia, LSU, Texas and a few other programs, and visited Ole Miss, Clemson, LSU, Georgia, Alabama and Texas last fall. He ramped up his process after his junior season, taking visits with Georgia, Alabama and Texas again in June.

How did Texas win the Manning sweepstakes over Georgia and Alabama? And when can we expect to see Manning take the field under center? We break down how Manning’s commitment impacts college football.

How did Texas win the Manning sweepstakes?

Just because the Manning name is on the back of his jersey, Arch didn’t necessarily want to make a decision based on where his family had played or had ties. His father, Cooper, told ESPN that they were very much encouraging him to make a choice for himself and were trying not to put any pressure on him.

Texas had been in on Manning very early in his recruitment, and Sarkisian made him a priority from the start. He was able to get Manning on campus multiple times for visits, and the fact that he was able to establish relationships early on with the Texas staff proved important. His visits really helped him figure out where he wanted to go and which coaches he wanted to play for when he arrives.

“I think, really, it’s just all about fit. He’s kind of formed those initial relationships and I think he just wants to see the campus and it’s really one of those things that it’s about where he sees the best fit,” Isidore Newman coach Nelson Stewart told ESPN in March. “[On his visits,] he was really excited just to get up there and sit in the meetings, watch the workouts, and he loves the practices and the installs so now I think it’s just all about fit and what’s best for him.”

Stewart said Manning was conducting an old-school recruitment, looking at what sets the programs apart. He was asking about what the plan was for the offense, the longevity of the program, the offensive staff, the offensive system, what the quarterback room is like, the relationship with the position coach. All of that factored in, and Texas ended up being the team that checked the most boxes.

How good is Manning?

Very. He’s smart, poised and obviously well-groomed. He has thrown for 5,731 yards, 72 touchdowns and 18 interceptions, while also totaling 671 rushing yards and 17 scores on the ground in his three years of high school. Plus, he’s a superior athlete to his uncles, which makes him a different type of player. He has crafty mobility, is a multisport athlete (he also plays basketball) and is anything but a sitting duck in the pocket. However, with a commitment to the Longhorns, he represents one piece of a very large puzzle in terms of a Texas roster makeover.

How quickly can the Longhorns put the right players around him? From this perspective, the Alabama and Georgia rosters are much further along talent-wise than Texas is at this point. The supporting cast is very important. Manning is a big domino, and now Texas hopes that his commitment will help lure more talent to Austin.

What does Manning’s commitment do to impact Texas on the recruiting trail?

As is always the case, a high-profile quarterback committing to a school will attract attention from other prospects. A recruit as well-known as Manning will undoubtedly cause a stir among other offensive recruits, specifically skill players, looking to play with a talented quarterback.

One of his teammates, three-star tight end William Randle, already flipped his commitment from LSU to Texas on June 19.

Wide receivers especially want to know that they’ll have a quarterback to get them the ball, and with Quinn Ewers already on the roster and 2022 ESPN 300 quarterback Maalik Murphy in the 2022 class, the quarterback room is stocked for the future.

ESPN 300 wide receiver Johntay Cook II has a top list of Florida, Jackson State, Michigan, Texas and Texas A&M. He’s the No. 43 recruit overall out of DeSoto High School in DeSoto, Texas, and could be impacted by Manning’s decision.

ESPN 300 receiver Jaquaize Pettaway, the No. 33 recruit overall, also has Texas in his top list. He just took a visit to see the Longhorns in mid-June and is also considering Oklahoma, among other schools. If Manning could help keep Pettaway from the Sooners, that would be a big win for the future offense.

Jalen Brown, the No. 53 prospect overall and a receiver out of Gulliver Prep High School in Miami, also visited Texas and is considering the Longhorns among his finalists. Brown is also being chased by Miami.

The Texas staff doesn’t currently have any ESPN 300 receivers committed, so if Manning can help land any of these skill-position targets, it will be a bonus for the coaches.

Is he anything like his uncles Peyton and Eli?

That is a difficult question to answer considering all the unknown variables that come with high-profile quarterbacks coming out of high school.

His uncles were blessed with uniquely superior football intellect in contrast to their peers at the NFL level. They won with their minds and their arms because they lacked the ideal dynamism most would like to have at the position. They played in a different era, and the game now seems to revolve so much more around pocket movement and mobility and the involvement of the quarterback run in today’s scheme.

That is where Arch is totally different from his uncles. The expectation is that Arch will have the mental fortitude and toughness of his uncles, coupled with ideal athleticism, to flourish in today’s college game.

When will he see the field?

He won’t get to campus until after this season, unless he decides to reclassify. Once he gets to Texas, the staff will have Hudson Card, Ewers and Murphy on the roster. Card is going into his redshirt sophomore season in 2022, and will have three years under his belt by the time Manning arrives. Ewers transferred to Texas from Ohio State and played only two snaps without a pass attempt. Murphy just signed in this most recent class.

Manning is coming in at a time when there is seemingly an opening to win the starting job. There will be a new starter this season, so whether that’s Card or Ewers, that won’t be a huge gap for Manning that he wouldn’t be able to overcome.

Last season, Card completed 51 of 83 passes for 590 yards, five touchdowns and one interception behind Casey Thompson, who has since transferred to Nebraska.

It’s difficult to speculate on transfers, but they have become a part of college football, especially at the quarterback position. It must be factored into Manning’s path that if Ewers beats out Card, the possibility of Card transferring doesn’t seem out of the question — or vice versa.

A high-profile recruit signing with a program can also cause a transfer, so if Manning comes on board and catches on early, his presence could cause some change in the quarterback room that would lead to him seeing the field ahead of schedule. There are no reports indicating that any of the current quarterbacks will transfer, but the option is there.

Manning has the ability to compete right away in that quarterback room, and there’s no reason to think he won’t be in the mix to earn playing time at Texas very early in his career.

What’s next for Alabama and Georgia after not landing Manning?

Alabama was in on Manning until the end, but the Crimson Tide were recruiting other quarterbacks along the way.

Nick Saban and his staff got a commitment from ESPN 300 quarterback Eli Holstein on May 24, filling the quarterback spot in the class. Holstein is a 6-foot-4, 225-pound quarterback from Zachary High School in Zachary, Louisiana, the No. 59 recruit and the No. 5 pocket passer in the class. He decommitted from Texas A&M in March and ultimately chose Alabama.

The Crimson Tide also signed ESPN 300 quarterback Ty Simpson in the 2022 class.

Georgia signed ESPN 300 quarterback Gunner Stockton in the 2022 class and Brock Vandagriff from the 2021 class. The staff has yet to add a quarterback in 2023, but with the young players they have on the roster, it isn’t imperative to hit a home run at quarterback in this class.

There are only four ESPN 300 quarterbacks uncommitted, and neither Dylan Lonergan or Jaden Rashada have Georgia in their top list. Georgia has some other options outside the top 300, but it isn’t completely necessary to add a huge name in this class, especially with the viability of the transfer portal.

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