The march to Arch has begun at Texas.
Since quarterback Arch Manning, the consensus No. 1 overall prospect in America from Newman High in New Orleans, committed to Texas last Thursday, the Longhorns received eight more commitments in five days. Some of those were coming anyway and half of those were just three-star prospects on a scale with five stars as the best.
But Manning’s commitment clearly bodes well for Texas’ class of 2023, which is currently ranked No. 3 in the nation by Rivals.com and by 247 Sports.
The best commitment of the eight was clearly Derek Williams, Rivals’ No. 2 safety in the country and a four-star from New Iberia, Louisiana, which is just 70 miles from LSU. Williams reportedly was leaning to Alabama and LSU before Manning’s commitment. He gives Texas the No. 1 and No. 3 prospects in the state of Louisiana. Williams had visited Miami, Texas A&M, and Oklahoma.
“There’s no doubt a quarterback with that name will continue to be a draw,” said recruiting expert Michael Scarborough of TigerBait.com in Baton Rouge. “Arch Manning’s national notoriety and name recognition is clearly an eye-opener for other prospects potentially going to Texas. It certainly doesn’t hurt.”
Manning’s father is Cooper Manning, a star receiver with his younger brother Peyton Manning at Newman in the early 1990s. Cooper signed at Ole Miss, but a spinal condition ended his career after high school.
Peyton Manning went to Tennessee, finished second for the Heisman Trophy in 1997, and was the first pick of the 1998 NFL Draft by Indianapolis. Another uncle is Eli Manning, who went to Ole Miss and was the first player picked in the 2004 NFL Draft by San Diego before a trade to the New York Giants. Peyton and Eli each won two Super Bowls.
Arch’s grandfather is Archie Manning, who signed with Ole Miss in 1967 out of Drew, Mississippi, and became one of the greatest dual-action quarterbacks in college football history and finished third for the Heisman in 1970.
“I feel sorry for Arch in a way,” Scarborough said. “Because the expectations on him are outrageous considering his last name and his ranking.”
Arch Manning also does not have as strong an arm yet as his Uncle Peyton, who even in high school could easily throw the 15-20-yard out pass that NFL scouts see as a game-changer. Arch needs to improve on that throw. But he does possess a sweet touch and can throw the deep ball well, and he obviously has the measurables at 6-foot-4 and 215 pounds.
Some, though, believe if Manning’s last name was LeBlanc or Smith, he would be a four-star prospect. Interestingly, Eli Manning was not a highly ranked quarterback coming out of Newman and progressed dramatically at Ole Miss.
The other four-star prospects to commit to Texas after Manning’s commitment were No. 22 outside linebacker Liona Lefau of Kahuka, Hawaii, and No. 18 offensive tackle Jaydon Chatman of Harker Heights, Texas. Lefau previously visited Oregon and Utah. Chatman represented another LSU loss as he had visited the Baton Rouge campus along with Oklahoma and Texas A&M.
The three-star prospects to commit post-Manning were No. 17 offensive guard Connor Stroh of Frisco, Texas, No. 40 weak-side defensive end Billy Walton of Dallas, No. 49 offensive tackle Trevor Goosby of Melissa, Texas, and No. 52 offensive tackle Andre Cojoe of Arlington, Texas.
Texas has 16 commitments in all so far. Ohio State has the No. 1 class in the nation by Rivals.com with 14 commitments, and Notre Dame is No. 2 with 15 under first-year coach Marcus Freeman.
LSU could have really used Williams of New Iberia as the Tigers’ class of 2023 under first-year coach Brian Kelly, formerly of Notre Dame, is No. 45 in the nation and eighth in the SEC with just six commitments.
The SEC as a whole is off to a slow start in recruiting for 2023 classes.
Arkansas is No. 1 in the SEC and No. 10 in the nation by Rivals with 16 commitments, followed by No. 11 Georgia with 12, No. 14 Tennessee with 12, No. 26 Alabama with eight, No. 31 Florida with nine, No. 35 South Carolina with 11, No. 44 Vanderbilt with nine, No. 46 Texas A&M with five, No. 50 Mississippi State with eight, No. 53 Ole Miss with six, No. 57 Kentucky with seven, No. 63 Missouri with six and No. 88 Auburn bringing up the rear literally at No. 88 with but two commitments.
Georgia and Alabama finished Nos. 1 and 2 last February. The rankings do not reflect how well or poorly programs have done in the NCAA Transfer Portal.