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Examining likely Arch Manning landing spots for top 2023 recruit

Matt Johnson
Arch Manning
SCOTT CLAUSE/USA TODAY Network / USA TODAY NETWORK

Arch Manning is one of the most coveted recruits in college football in years. Already viewed as a future NFL talent with the tools to become a star at the next level, the recruiting battle to land him will be one of the most intense in recent memory.

The nephew of Peyton and Eli Manning, Arch is the No. 1 player in the 247 Sports’ composite rankings for the 2023 recruiting class. A 6-foot-4 passer out of New Orleans, he caught the eyes of college scouts years ago and will soon be making a decision that impacts the next three college football seasons.

Related: Arch Manning chucks defender on epic run

As Ari Wasserman’s profile described, the pursuit of the young Manning isn’t typical for top recruits out of high school. While Arch recently created a Twitter account, he doesn’t follow anyone and he hasn’t tweeted or liked anything.

For the programs vying to land the top-rated prospect in 2023, Manning’s coach makes it clear that it’s going to require a specific fit to get Manning’s signature.

“He’s not caught up with what other people seem to be. We don’t discuss things like NIL or conferences or uniforms teams wear. He’s all about the school, forming relationships with every single coach on these staffs. He wants to get along in the locker room. When he goes to these schools, he’s going as a recruit. There’s no red carpet.”

Newman high school football coach Nelson Stewart on Arch Manning recruiting process, via The Athletic

The teenager is seemingly focused on a team’s atmosphere and the coaching staff instead of marketing opportunities and NIL deals.

Related: Top 25 College Football Rankings – Alabama, Ohio State atop top 25 before summer

Keeping that in mind, let’s examine potential Arch Manning commit landing spots.

Texas Longhorns

NCAA Football: Kansas State at Texas
Scott Wachter-USA TODAY Sports

While most known Arch’s uncles, his father is the eldest brother in the Manning family. Named to honor his grandfather, Archie Manning, Arch grew up in Louisiana and was surrounded by a family that adored football. While there are no family ties to the Longhorns’ program, it seems his visit to Texas built bonds.

Kelvin Banks, a Texas signee in 2022, shared that Arch was ‘already one of the UT guys’ during his visit to Austin. He met with head coach Steve Sarkisian and heard strong pitches from iconic Longhorn quarterbacks Colt McCoy and Sam Ehlinger.

  • Arch Manning offers: Alabama, Georgia, Texas, Ole Miss, Clemson, LSU, Miami (FL), Tennessee, Notre Dame, USC, Oklahoma, Florida

Texas should feel some confidence considering it convinced Quinn Ewers, the No. 1 recruit in 2021, to return home after one year at Ohio State The Longhorns also had the fifth-best recruiting class in 2022. They are also in the running for 2023 five-star running back Reuben Owens along with five-star receivers Carnell Tate and Jalen Hale.

Sarkisian’s pedigree coordinating great offenses is very appealing. While some knocked Texas for not bringing in bigger stars to pitch Arch Manning, the point of Ehlinger and McCoy is to sell the Longhorns as a family with connections that last for life. Pair that with the growing connection between Sarkisian and Manning, it’s a smart approach. Maybe it’s not enough to win out, but Texas should be a finalist.

LSU Tigers

NCAA Basketball: Ohio at Louisiana State
Stephen Lew-USA TODAY Sports

LSU is receiving a visit from Manning and that’s all they need to have a shot. The Tigers already have proximity going for them, something that is usually a huge plus on the recruiting trail. However, it might not mean as much to the Manning family because they can travel anywhere Arch plays to see each of his games.

Brian Kelly might try and pull Arch into another viral video, but the success rate on those isn’t great. Instead, a strong pitch can be made by offensive coordinator Mike Denbrock. He is credited with helping Desmond Ridder develop from a three-star recruit in 2017 to a potential 2022 first-round pick.

  • Arch Manning stats (2021) 1,371 passing yards, 11.9 ypa, 17-4 TD-INT, 105.9 QB rating (7 games)

Coming off a tough 2021 season, LSU finished with the No. 12 recruiting class in the nation. Among the signees, four-star tackle Will Campbell (Monroe, Louisiana) and four-star guard Emery Jones (Baton Rouge, Lousiana). Kelly will be pulling in more talent in 2023, especially if LSU rebounds this fall.

There is a strong pitch to be made on the benefits of staying home, helping the team Louisiana adores compete for a national championship. Joe Burrow will forever be an icon in the state because of what he did for the Tigers’ football program. If Manning did the same, it would be even more meaningful given the family’s name in the community.

With all that said, LSU isn’t viewed as one of the favorites right now. Forced to compete with the likes of Alabama, Texas and Georgia, Kelly has a tough road ahead.

Alabama Crimson Tide

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You know a team is interested when they fly out to watch a top football recruit play basketball. Nick Saban, like Kirby Smart, wanted to get an up-close look at Manning’s athleticism and leadership on display. While basketball might not be in his future, it’s fair to say the Alabama Crimson Tide still came away impressed.

Related: Nick Saban scouts Arch Manning at basketball game

Obviously, Alabam wasn’t always a great choice for quarterbacks. That has changed in recent years with Saban hiring innovative minds to redesign the offense, creating one of the most explosive passing attacks in college football. It’s led to first-round picks (Mac Jones, Tua Tagovailoa) and a potential top-5 pick in the 2023 NFL Draft (Bryce Young).

If Manning’s primary focus is on the team that best prepares him for the NFL, it’s Alabama. He’ll be surrounded by future starting-caliber NFL talent at wide receiver and can operate from a clean pocket behind one of the best offensive lines in the nation.

It seems pretty clear that Manning is focused on the football side rather and the Crimson Tide can offer that. However, the rise of the reigning champion Georgia Bulldogs could really cause problems for Saban. If offensive coordinator Bill O’Brien leaves and Arch Manning commits to the Bulldogs, the next few years might be disappointing for Alabama.

Ole Miss Rebels

NCAA Football: Sugar Bowl-Mississippi at Baylor
John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports

Lane Kiffin knows a star when he sees one. It’s exactly why even if an Arch Manning decision isn’t made until late in the summer, past when other top recruits commit, he won’t give up on this pursuit. The Ole Miss Rebels are coming off one of their best seasons in program history, a 10-3 record when the SEC is tougher than ever.

The familial ties are certainly a factor working in Mississippi’s favor. Both Archie and Cooper Manning are University of Mississippi alums. The program’s connection to the family is important, offering a path for Kiffin to create a strong connection.

Related: College football games today – 2022 college football schedule

In terms of the fit purely based on football, Kiffin can make another strong case in this regard. Matt Corral is coming off a fantastic season, finishing as one of the best quarterbacks in college football. A projected top-50 pick, Corral saw a huge turnaround since Kiffin was hired by Ole Miss.

  • Matt Corral stats (2019): 59% completion rate, 7.7 yards per attempt, 6-3 TD-INT ratio, 131.0 QB rating, 2.4 ypc
  • Matt Corral (2020-’21): 69.1% completion rate, 9.4 yards per attempt, 49-19 TD-INT ratio, 165.5 QB rating, 4.2 ypc

The Rebels certainly aren’t one of the elite landing spots for recruits, ranking 23rd in the 2022 class, with their top sickness on the defensive side. The Rebels also lost offensive coordinator Jeff Lebby. Those are two factors working against Ole Miss, but family roots and a chance to operate in a Kiffin offense are certainly appealing.

Georgia Bulldogs

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The national champion Georgia Bulldogs are viewed by some as the favorites for Arch Manning. Championships are obviously what helps shape a quarterback’s legacy and if Stetson Bennett can end Georgia’s title drought, the fan base should be drooling over the possibilities with a far better quarterback.

Georgia finished with 247 Sports’s No. 3 recruiting class in 2022, including a five-star athlete and multiple four-star signees on the offensive side. Even without Manning currently on board, the Bulldogs are shaping their future offense with top talent out of high school committing to the program early.

  • Arch Manning career stats (high school): 5,731 yards, 72-18 TD-INT, 113.6 QB rating in 27 games

There is an elephant in the room here. Smart’s decision-making with quarterbacks isn’t the best. Starting Bennett over JT Daniels worked out but choosing Jake Fromm over Justin Fields cost the Bulldogs for multiple seasons. With that said, there would be no question who starts if Manning heads to Athens.

It’s possible Manning might not put up the best stats if Georgia maintained the structure of its current offense. However, offensive coordinator Todd Monken was the Tampa Bay Buccaneers offensive coordinator in 2017 when the team averaged the most passing yards (320.3) per game. Needless to say, he can adapt.

If it’s all about winning championships, Georgia might be the best landing spot for Manning. He’ll have one of the best defenses in the country backing him and there also won’t be a shortage of talent at wide receiver and running back. If he signs with the Bulldogs, they’ll be the king of the SEC throughout his tenure.

Florida Gators

NCAA Basketball: Alabama at Florida
Matt Pendleton-USA TODAY Sports

Florida Gators came out a winner in the coaching carousel 2022, landing Billy Napier. We’re not expecting an instant turnaround, the 42-year-old coach is building infrastructure. What we have seen is a deeper coaching and recruiting staff, laying the groundwork for a program that can have lasting success in player development.

Napier visited Arch Manning early this year and things seemed to go well. In March, the No. 1 player in the 2023 recruiting classes included Florida in his narrowed-down list of finalists to land him. Keep in mind, the Gators just got involved a few months ago.

Because of the coaching changes, Florida finished with the No. 17 recruiting class (7th in SEC, by 247 Sports) this past cycle. While there is currently only one 2023 commitment, four-star athlete Aaron Gates, more will come.

We see the appeal of Florida for Manning. This football team is dormant right now, but Manning’s talents and his ability to bring in other top players would quickly turn the Gators around. Plus, Napier’s offense will be plenty explosive and he’s built a strong coaching staff. The Gators certainly aren’t a favorite, but just being in the running is a credit to Napier.

Prediction: Arch Manning commits to Alabama