Arch Manning, the No. 1 quarterback in the class of 2023, committed to Texas on Thursday.
The five-star quarterback chose Texas over SEC powerhouses Georgia and Alabama. Manning, the nephew of Peyton and Eli Manning, had a perfect 1.0000 rating according to 247Sports.com. The expectations will be off the charts when he arrives at Texas, a program yearning to get back on the national stage.
— Arch Manning (@ArchManning) June 23, 2022
Sporting News breaks down the winners and losers from the Manning commitment.
Winner: Texas recruiting
The Longhorns landed the top recruit in the class of 2023, and having Manning as the centerpiece should build some late momentum heading into the early signing period. Three-star tight end Will Randle, Manning’s teammate at Isidore Newman in New Orleans, also committed to Texas this week.
Manning’s arrival will be one of the leading storylines of the 2023 season, and it shows that Texas can be a major player in recruiting in the Name, Image and Likeness era.
Manning is the Longhorns’ fifth five-star quarterback since 2000, and he will come with just as much hype as Vince Young, who was the top prospect in the country in 2002. Young delivered on those expectations by leading the Longhorns to a 41-38 victory against USC in the Rose Bowl to secure the program’s last national championship in 2005.
Manning will generate belief that can happen again.
The Longhorns and Sooners are still in the Big 12, at least for now, and the difference in the rivalry with the Sooners in the College Football Playoff era has been quarterback play.
Baker Mayfield and Kyler Murray won the Heisman Trophy and were No. 1 picks in the NFL Draft. Jalen Hurts was a Heisman finalist at Oklahoma after transferring from Alabama. All three are starters in the NFL. Riley left, however, and five-star quarterbacks Spencer Rattler and Caleb Williams transferred to South Carolina and USC, respectively. Five-star quarterback Malachi Nelson decommitted from Oklahoma and will go to USC in 2023.
Texas now has two five-star quarterbacks in the fold with Quinn Ewers (more on that in a bit), and Manning. Now first-year coach Brent Venables faces a challenge to keep up at the most-important position.
Winner: Steve Sarkisian
Sarkisian clearly learned from his time under Nick Saban at Alabama. Manning is the kind of program-changing recruit that can sell Texas for the next decade if he lives up to the hype.
Texas was all-in on Manning early, and the fact they were able to beat out the top-two recruiting programs in the nation in Alabama and Georgia to get is a nod to the offense that the Longhorns are building around blue-chip talent such as Bijan Robinson and Xavier Worthy.
Loser: Kirby Smart
Smart’s reputation as a top recruiter isn’t going to change, and Georgia’s philosophy won’t either. After all, the Bulldogs are the defending national champions and in position to compete for more titles for the foreseeable future.
Yet the quarterback question has hung over Smart since five-star quarterback Justin Fields transferred to Ohio State. Manning would have been the highest-ranked quarterback to ever play for Georgia, and he opted for Texas.
Georgia quarterbacks averaged 26.9 passing attempts last season. Texas quarterbacks averaged 28.7 attempts per game. That’s not a huge difference, but that number should go up with Manning’s arrival.
Stetson Bennett, who led Georgia to a national title last season, returns at quarterback this year. Manning would have been a logical fit to take over in 2023 had he committed, but the Bulldogs do have solid options in the fold. Brock Vandagriff was a five-star QB in 2021, but he is fighting with 2020 four-star Carson Beck for the backup job in 2022.
Winner: The SEC (eventually)
Texas and Oklahoma are set to join the SEC in 2025, a timetable that both schools have said they will hold by.
Imagine the setting for Texas’ conference debut with Manning, whose grandfather Archie and uncles Peyton and Eli are SEC legends, in the fold. The new-look 16-team SEC could not script a better start with the Longhorns coming in with a potential Heisman Trophy contender at quarterback.
The ratings on that game, no matter who the opponent is, are going to be off the charts.
Loser: The Big 12 (eventually)
Will Manning play in the Big 12? The conference announced this month that Cincinnati, BYU, Houston and BYU will join the conference in 2023.
If Texas and Oklahoma fulfill that contract, then the Big 12 will have Manning in the fold for two seasons, and that will be great for the conference’s push to keep up with the other Power 5 conferences.
It’s also going to make it that much more painful when the Longhorns and Sooners leave for the SEC.
Winner: Alabama QBs looking to start
Alabama also was in the Manning sweepstakes, but Eli Holstein, a four-star quarterback, committed in May. Holstein now has a clearer path to competing for the starting job next season with Jalen Milroe and Ty Simpson, a five-star recruit from the class of 2022.
That’s assuming Bryce Young, the returning Heisman Trophy winner, leaves for the NFL after this season. Manning would have been the presumed starter if he would have chosen Alabama, and now it appears Nick Saban’s dynasty will have a more wide-open quarterback battle in the near future.
Loser: Quinn Ewers
Ewers, the top quarterback in the 2021 class, is at Texas now. He transferred from Ohio State after last season and is battling for the starting job with Hudson Card this season.
Let’s say Ewers wins the job this year. Does that mean Manning will be the backup as a freshman? Or will the pressure to play Manning lead to Ewers transferring again?
That scenario unfolded last year at rival Oklahoma with Rattler and Williams, and that ended in a worst-case scenario for the Sooners. The best-case for Texas would be Ewers wins the starting job this year, the Longhorns have a break-through season and he retains the starting job while Manning settles in.
But does anybody believe that’s really going to happen with the most-hyped quarterback prospect in years coming to Austin?