Arch Manning commits to Texas: How recruiting’s top QB is changing the landscape for Longhorns, SEC contenders

Arch Manning commits to Texas: How recruiting’s top QB is changing the landscape for Longhorns, SEC contenders

Arch Manning had the opportunity to follow his grandfather Archie and Uncle Eli to Ole Miss. He could have followed in his other uncle Peyton’s footsteps and played in Tennessee. He was given an open line to join Alabama’s greatest college football dynasty of all time. He could also have linked with the defending champion in Georgia. Instead, Manning chose to write his own legacy.

With his very first tweet, Arch Manning, #1 Quarterback in the Class of 2023 and arguably the most well-known prospect in recruiting history, Texas committed. Given his famous name and perfect recruit score of 1.0000, Manning’s promise puts the Burnt Orange back on top of the national stage.

This 1,0000 rating in the 247Sports Composite is the most prestigious brand in recruiting. Only seven players, three of whom were quarterbacks, received that perfect score on the metric. All three of those quarterbacks — Vince Young, Quinn Ewers, and now Manning — played or will play at the University of Texas. If Manning eventually signs and Ewers stays on, the “perfect” pair will be teammates on the Longhorns’ roster for 2023.

Perhaps most important to Manning, however, is timing. As a member of the 2023 class, he will almost certainly be the starting quarterback in Texas when the Longhorns enter the SEC, which is slated for the 2025 season. If all goes well, Manning has the opportunity to become a Johnny Manziel-style transformational at Texas A&M. That’s something neither Alabama nor Georgia could match.

Granted, neither Ewers nor Manning threw a college pass. And of the five previous perfect recruits, four never won a national championship: Robert Nkemdiche, Jadeveon Clowney, Rashan Gary and Ernie Sims. Of course, neither of them were quarterbacks, and Young left Austin, Texas as one of the most legendary signal callers in history.

With his famous name and historic rating behind him, those expectations are imposed on Manning from the start.

Texas is approaching a critical recruiting time

With Manning on board, expect Texas recruiting to be disproportionate, especially on offense. The Longhorns prioritize five-star wide receiver Johntay Cook II and four-star running back Cedric Baxter Jr. Manning’s high school teammate Will Randle is already on board as a three-star tight-end recruit.

Expect more high-profile players to sign as the process culminates in the early signing phase in December and National Signing Day in February. The chance to play with Manning should be an unmatched draw. Anything less than another top five recruiting class would be a huge disappointment for Texas.

When Ewers, a former No. 1 recruit, retired from Texas on October 28, 2020 and later signed with Ohio State, it signaled the end of the Tom Herman era at Austin. (Ewers was transferred to Texas in December 2021.)

Barely 18 months later, Sarkisian has succeeded where Herman failed. Sarkisian could find it similarly difficult to keep Manning on board, especially if the ‘Horns don’t live up to expectations in 2022. However, if Manning makes it onto campus, he will be a game-changing name for Sarkisian and the program long-term.

Roster management will be crucial

Manning is expected to sign up ahead of the 2023 season, likely in the spring. If the Texas quarterback room goes according to plan, it means the Longhorns could have as many as five scholarship signal callers on the list by the season.

Hudson Card is the only quarterback on the roster with starting experience. However, former No. 1 recruit Ewers, who transferred from Ohio State in December 2021, is a favorite to win the starting job in 2022 ahead of Card, four-star signee Maalik Murphy and underclassman Charles Wright. By the 2023 season, Ewers will likely have a full term on his side.

Manning is a special talent and should be fighting for the starting place right away. However, Ewers is a unique talent in his own right, having achieved the #1 overall ranking and a rating of .9999. There’s a strong chance Ewers will keep the starting job over younger Manning in 2023. However, Ewers would be eligible for the NFL Draft after just one season of overlap, clearing the way for Manning to take over in 2024.

The tricky part is this: what if Manning beats Ewers for the starting job? Ewers would likely be stuck, either serving as a backup in Texas or sitting out a year of residency and possibly delaying his move to the NFL, having already used his year-long transfer waiver. The only other option would be for him to receive a waiver to play elsewhere immediately, and while players have been petitioning to do so more successfully of late, that’s hardly a sure thing.

If Ewers wins the quarterback job as expected in 2022, it likely means Card will eventually enter the transfer portal. Murphy and Wright could also consider leaving if Manning is next in line. The only downside to a hypertalented quarterback room is trying to keep enough signal callers on the list in a virtual open market. With talent like Manning and Ewers, however, any coaching staff would address these issues.

Where are the competitors going from here?

The two most recent national championship winners, Georgia and Alabama, put many eggs in Manning’s basket. Bama got out of Manning’s signing early and turned around No. 56 overall QB Eli Holstein to lead his recruit class. The Crimson Tide also signed five-star QB Ty Simpson and top 100 QB Jalen Milroe in the last two classes. Depth at the location will not be an issue.

The Bulldogs now have 12 offers for quarterbacks, nine to signal callers who are already engaged elsewhere, according to 247Sports. Georgia could prioritize new options, like local top 100 product Dylan Lonergan, or draw on the depth it’s built over the past three classes.

Ole Miss has perhaps gone as public as anyone to land the dual legacy. Coach Lane Kiffin wore Eli’s Giants jersey until his jersey retirement, and the Rebels painted “Manning” in the end zones for the day. Of course Arch was visiting for this game. However, Ole Miss chose three-star QB Marcel Reed, No. 431 overall, from Nashville’s Montgomery Bell Academy. The Rebels also enter the Jaden Rashada Sweepstakes, which will be decided live on CBS Sports HQ on Sunday, June 26.

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