Of RJ Young
FOX Sports College football writer
This weekend, Arch Manning concludes his three-week tour of official visits with a trip to Austin, Texas, where the Long Horn they are sure to show him how he can be bigger than Big Tex at the Cotton Bowl if he chooses them.
For anyone who has lived under a rock, Arch is the grandson of Archie Manning and the grandson of Peyton and Eli Manning. The New Orleans High School quarterback is the No. 1 in the class of 2023 and the most popular recruit of the last two recruiting rounds.
Earlier this month, Manning visited Georgia and Alabama. It is clear that he is wanted in Bama, as he has wanted in the other 129 FBS programs in the country. But this sport has shown that it appreciates legends. In Alabama, it’s hard to compete with legends that have already arrived. At the quarterback, they are Jalen Hurts, Tua Tagovailoa and Mac Jones for the past five years.
Even in his home state of Louisiana – where LSU runs the state – Manning would have a hard time competing with the Joe Burrow legend.
That’s why, even for such a rich and hungry-to-win schedule, Texas is in a unique position to offer Manning the opportunity Archie found at Ole Miss and Peyton found at Tennessee: Arch may be the sign with which all others are measured.
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Also in Manning’s calculation it must be that Nick Saban has accepted a commitment from 2023 quarterback Eli Holstein, which allows it to be assumed that Saban is hedging his bet to land Manning.
While there are no rules to the contrary and it is becoming common for two QBs to sign in the same class, any recruitnik will tell you that you are recruiting a quarterback or that you are not recruiting any quarterbacks. If you are Arch Manning, why on earth would you commit to a place that isn’t willing to bet the farm on you?
In Georgia, Manning could be what Stetson Bennett turned into or what Herschel Walker once was. But as I pointed out two weeks ago, I doubt Kirby Smart would let Manning handle the attack the way Alabama or Texas would.
Why Georgia is not suitable for Arch Manning
RJ Young wonders if Georgia is suitable for the young quarterback. The Bulldogs have not had a QB selected in the first round of the NFL Draft since 2009, and other famous QBs who have engaged in Georgia (such as Justin Fields) have not been successful.
In Texas, though, Manning could find himself leaving the Forty Acres on par with Vince Young or even better if he can achieve what no Texas QB has since Darrell K Royal: win two national titles in four years.
And he wouldn’t go alone, nor would the closet ever be bare. The Longhorns have proven – even in a decade filled with mediocrity (5-7 last season) and embarrassing lows (losing to Kansas twice in five years) – that they are able to recruit around their signalmen.
Texas hasn’t finished outside of the top 15 in the 247 Sports Composite recruiting rankings since 2017, and while it failed to select a player in the April NFL Draft, the roster is set to hunt for a Big 12 championship and – dare I say it – the first invitation of the program to the College Football Playoff.
Longhorns manager Steve Sarkisian has built a reputation as an exceptional playcaller and attacking mastermind. He has loaded his staff with good and great recruiters, and supporters at the state’s flagship university are throwing all their money on the program as much as is allowed. For example, running back Bijan Robinson, a Heisman contender, signed a sponsorship deal with the Lamborghini dealer in Austin last month.
If Texas fans are willing to put an Arizona running back on a Lambo, they’re probably willing to throw a Gulfstream G550 at Manning. That said, Manning would have to pick something a little more tasteful, like a Ferrari SF90 Spider, assuming he’d eventually accept a NIL deal.
He said he doesn’t want a NIL deal. But that doesn’t mean he won’t want one-or three-dozen-in a couple of years while he’s gearing up for the NFL Draft.
Texas is prepared for both eventualities. Of course, there is the issue of football quality – remember the Longhorns were 5-7 in 2021 – and how much Manning cares to know that the team he joins is not a dumpster fire.
But the Longhorns are in a position to show they have arrived, and they will on September 10, when they welcome Alabama to DKR for a game that is already sold out.
If Texas shows – ahem – Texas Fight, it might be enough to influence Manning, who hasn’t set a date for his engagement and will likely see the trial until the fall.
Don’t get carried away by Alabama, Texas, and you can give Manning the opportunity to take my advice: Pick the Longhorns, Arch.
RJ Young is a National College Football Writer and Analyst for FOX Sports and the host of the podcast “The show n. 1 in the standings with RJ Young. “Follow him on Twitter at @RJ_Youngand subscribe to “The RJ Young Show“on YouTube. It’s not on a StepMill.
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