THIBODAUX, Louisiana – The first-ever tweet of Archibald Charles Manning – also known as Arch – at 11:16 a.m. central time Thursday on his Twitter account had reached 141,000 likes by 3 p.m.with 20,000 retweets 10,200 quotes.
What will his first completed pass at the University of Texas at Austin draw in the 2023 season?
Manning, who will be a senior quarterback at Newman High in uptown New Orleans this season and has been the No. 1 overall prospect in the nation for the class of 2023 for more than a year, shocked the world with his announcement on Twitter Thursday that he had committed to Texas.
The Longhorns and coach Steve Sarkisian were one of three favorites with national champion Georgia and runner-up Alabama with Georgia presumably in the lead. But the timing caught most everyone off guard.
“I had no idea it would be today,” said Newman head football coach Nelson Stewart, who was a teammate of Arch’s dad Cooper Manning and his uncle Peyton Manning at Newman High in the early 1990s.
“I was at our football camp in the weight room, and later I noticed I had four missed calls from Arch,” Stewart told OutKick Thursday while driving the 58 miles south from New Orleans to the 26th Manning Passing Academy on the Nicholls State University campus. “It was a surprise, but a good one. All I told him was, ‘Let me know when you know.’ I couldn’t be more surprised.”
It was also very quiet. No big, self-absorbed press conference with a bunch of hats with the prospect putting on the one of his new school, which has been done way too many times. Cooper didn’t want that. Just a tweet – short and sweet. “Committed to the University of Texas – Hook ‘Em.”
Arch is expected to be here at the passing camp along with his dad and second uncle who has won two Super Bowls – Eli Manning – and his grandfather and namesake, Archie Manning.
But there will be no media frenzy here around Arch, who is expected to officially sign with Texas on Dec. 21 during the early signing period.
“By now you may have heard the news that Arch Manning has announced his commitment to which school he is going to play college football,” Greg Blackwell, media relations director for the Manning Passing Academy, said Thursday. “With that said, Arch Manning, is attending camp as a camper and will not be available for any interviews and or requests for interviews.The Manning Family will not be made available for interviews other than talking about the Manning Passing Academy during Friday’s press conference.
“They will not field any questions about Arch Manning’s decision during Friday’s press conference or at anytime at camp. The Manning’s will make a very brief statement at the press conference. I thank you in advance for your cooperation on this matter.”
Well, all righty then.
Credit Archie Manning, who rarely had a protective pocket with which to pass and stay healthy while a New Orleans Saint from 1971-82, and his sons, who have controlled the pocket around Arch extremely well. He has rarely done interviews, kept a low profile, and you just read his first tweet.
Arch Manning, who is 18, can now just focus on football with his teammates. At 6-foot-4 and 215 pounds, he can throw with accuracy and strength like Archie, Peyton and Eli, but unlike Peyton and Eli, he can also run very well.
“He’s a tremendous football player,” Stewart said. “He’s going to have a great senior year. This was his decision. He’s a real independent thinker. He wanted to blaze a new trail at Texas.”
Archie was a consensus All-American and Heisman Trophy finalist while at Ole Miss from 1968-70. Cooper signed at Ole Miss before a spinal disease ended his football career. Peyton would have likely gone to Ole Miss to throw passes to Cooper as he did at Newman, but he decided to blaze new trails at Tennessee and finished as a consensus All-American and Heisman Trophy runner-up in 1997. Eli went to Ole Miss and was the SEC offensive player of the year in 2003.
Archie was the second pick of the 1971 NFL Draft by the Saints. Peyton was the first pick of the 1998 draft by Indianapolis, and Eli was the first pick of the 2004 draft by San Diego before quickly being traded to the New York Giants. He and his agent had told the Chargers he would not play for them as San Diego was the updated version of Archie’s Saints, coming off five losing seasons over the previous seven.
Through three seasons at Newman, Arch Manning has thrown for more than 6,000 yards with 81 touchdowns against just 18 interceptions while also rushing for 700 yards and 20 touchdowns. If there are can’t-misses, he certainly seems to be one.
Considering the intensity of his recruitment, which he just ended, he could be among the the most sought-after prospects in history.
“I’ve never seen anything like it,” said Stewart, who witnessed Peyton’s intense recruitment firsthand before he chose Tennessee prior to the 1994 season. There were no Name, Image & Likeness deals possible for Peyton and Eli. Arch is expected to receive one of the largest ever as Texas has long been known for its deep pockets.
“I could write a book,” Stewart said of Arch’s overall recruitment.
Alabama coach Nick Saban, Ole Miss coach Lane Kiffin and former LSU coach Ed Orgeron would populate some pages.
“The most intimidating individual I’ve ever met,” Stewart said of Saban. “He walked up in his red coat and shook my hand – very serious and matter of fact. Then he started giving me a hard time for Odell Beckham (former Newman wide receiver) going to LSU (in 2011) instead of Alabama.”
Saban came to a Newman basketball game because Arch also played for that team and had to be put on the second floor.
“Saban was mobbed by fans, so I had to get him up there,” Stewart said. “I had LSU’s coaches downstairs. It was just wild.”
Kiffin made an impression.
“He was always going 90 miles an hour,” Stewart said.
“He said he drove much faster than Sarkisian’s driver,” Stewart said.
Orgeron hit Newman’s halls the day after his Tigers defeated Clemson for the national championship in the Louisiana Superdome – three miles from Newman – on Jan. 14, 2020.
“I’ll never forget O marching through the school the morning after the national title,” Stewart said. “So many coaches came by. They just kept coming. Nothing got too crazy, though. There was a tremendous amount of respect for the Manning family. But I’m glad it’s over.”