When UFCU Dish-Falk Field erupted in cheers when Texas Longhorns left fielder Eric Kennedy doubled in the ninth inning for a walk-off win in the Austin Super Regional against the South Florida Bulls, head coach Steve Sarkisian and his staff were hosting one of the biggest recruiting weekends in the modern recruiting era.
In fact, Manning was even in attendance for the thrilling victory getting a taste of what fan support looks like for a surging team playing a beloved sport on the Forty Acres.
As Manning did at his early visit to Clemson, he threw with some of the recruits in attendance, a rare decision for the type of prospect with nothing to prove by doing so, providing a glimpse into a potential football future at that university.
At Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium, that meant throwing to DeSoto wide receiver Johntay Cook, currently a top-60 national prospect and top-10 wide receiver in the country according to the 247Sports Composite rankings.
QB Arch Manning with a 70 yard bomb to Johntay Cook II earlier today at Texas pic.twitter.com/pvf36L6ajt— Hayes Fawcett (@Hayesfawcett3) June 13, 2021
A glimpse into the potential Arch Manning future at Texas, indeed. Tantalizing.
In addition to throwing with Cook, Manning also had a chance to build his relationship with 2023 Texas running back commit Rueben Owens, who has been getting to know Manning in recent months.
For running backs coach Stan Drayton, getting Owens on campus was an important development, too — the El Campo product is still committed to Texas, but took advantage of the dead period ending with recent trips to Alabama and LSU.
With Manning and his family on the Forty Acres — as well as so many other important targets — Sarkisian brought out the Texas Minister of Culture, Matthew McConaughey and Longhorn legends like Earl Campbell, Vince Young, Jamaal Charles, Derrick Johnson, and Brian Orakpo.
Campbell’s presence provided an old connection to the Manning family — as Steve Wiltfong pointed out at 247Sports, Campbell played with patriarch Archie Manning with the Houston Oilers for two seasons in the early 1980s;
Unsurprisingly, the buzz around Texas and Manning was a topic of national conversation in the hours since the Mannings were on the Forty Acres. Mike Farrell at Rivals thinks the Longhorns will now be a contender throughout Manning’s recruitment. 247Sports national college football analyst Josh Pate agrees, “I think they hit a home run, I think they are squarely in the mix for Arch Manning.”
Gotta feel Texas is a major player for Arch Manning, they killed it this weekend. Still believe they'll need early success on the field this fall though. pic.twitter.com/NTvirjMx9R— Josh Pate (@LateKickJosh) June 14, 2021
The emerging narrative?
The Longhorns need some success on the field this fall to successfully sell Sarkisian’s vision to Manning. After all, Alabama and Clemson look like major players in Manning’s recruitment and Georgia has a strong chance to join that list following his visit later this month.
Manning and the two 2023 standouts, Cook and Owens, were far from the only key targets who visited Texas over the weekend, though.
In the 2022 class, Edmond (Okla.) Deer Creek offensive tackle Jacob Sexton, Frisco offensive lineman Cole Hutson, Phoenix (Ariz.) Brophy Prep defensive end Zac Swanson, Cypress Cy Park linebacker Harold Perkins, Evanston (Ill.) Evanston Township linebacker Sebastian Cheeks, and Henderson (Nev.) Liberty athlete Anthony Jones were all at Texas.
Humble Atascosita offensive tackle Kam Dewberry made it to the Forty Acres, too.
Dewberry is a key target for offensive coordinator/offensive line coach Kyle Flood as Texas tries to compete with schools like Alabama, LSU, and Texas A&M — the Aggies just hosted the 6’4, 313-pounder on an unofficial camp visit and will get him back in College Station later this week.
Sexton has already visited Alabama and has upcoming trips to Oklahoma State and Texas A&M with the Crystal Ball predictions so far favoring him staying in state.
As Flood continues to look for his first offensive line commit since arriving in Austin, Hutson is a potential candidate to join the pledge list before his senior season begins with scheduled official visits to Oklahoma and Texas A&M in the next two weeks. There aren’t any Crystal Ball predictions for Hutson yet, but Geoff Ketchum and Sam Spiegelman did put in Rivals FutureCast picks in favor of Texas in the aftermath of Hutson’s visit.
Swanson committed to Texas in late April after picking up an offer from the Longhorns in February. So far, it’s been a low-key recruitment for Swanson and there’s no reason to expect that to change following his time on the Forty Acres.
Getting Perkins on campus was arguably the most significant coup for the staff among the 2022 prospects — the consensus five-star prospect and top-15 national recruit recently took a high-profile visit to College Station as the Longhorns have seemingly lagged behind the Aggies for much of his recruitment.
Texas apparently made a good initial impression on Perkins, but it’s still not clear if defensive coordinator Pete Kwiatkowski and the Horns will emerge as a serious contender for the rangy linebacker.
The Longhorns may be in a better position with Cheeks, even though he’s an out-of-state prospect. There’s a national element to his recruitment with a recent official visit to North Carolina, while regional schools like Michigan and Notre Dame are also in the mix.
Texas also landed a pledge from Jones over the weekend. A one-time Washington commit, Jones clearly believes in Kwiatkowski by making his second pledge to the well-regarded coordinator. A 6’5, 240-pounder with some impressive raw athleticism, Jones wasn’t able to play his junior season in Nevada, but his upside makes him an intriguing take as the Longhorns look for a long-term Joseph Ossai replacement.
Other 2023 visitors for Texas included consensus five-star Longview wide receiver Jalen Hale and Arlington Martin cornerback Javien Toviano, a national top-50 prospect who is considered an early Longhorns lean.
Shiner standouts Dalton and Douglas Brooks were also on campus. Dalton holds a Texas offer, but Douglas, a 6’0, 265-pound defensive lineman with offers from schools like Houston and UTSA, does not.
South Oak Cliff running back Jayvon Thomas made it to the Forty Acres, as did Odessa Permian offensive guard Harris Sewell.
Manning’s recruitment will continue to garner headlines and occupy the conversations of Texas recruitniks, but there’s no question that the last two weekends have also positioned Sarkisian and his staff to make continued strides in the 2022 and 2023 classes.