And then there were two?
Quarterback commitments regularly send shockwaves through the college football world and that was the case when Zachary (La.) quarterback Eli Holstein pledged to the Alabama Crimson Tide on Tuesday.
The commitment of a passer ranked among the nation’s top-100 prospects is always a big deal, but Tuesday’s news was arguably more significant for what it means to the recruitment of New Orleans (La.) Isidore Newman superstar quarterback Arch Manning — with the Crimson Tide filling their spot at quarterback, the Texas Longhorns and the Georgia Bulldogs look like the top remaining contenders for the generational talent.
Manning was set to take an official visit to Alabama — one of three planned for June — with Georgia and Texas scheduled to received the other two visits. Whether Manning schedules an official visit to one of the schools more on the periphery of his recruitment with Alabama now likely out of the picture is still unclear, a list of schools that includes Florida, LSU, Ole Miss, and Virginia.
Ultimately, whether Manning schedules another official visit, or even takes all five, the obvious realities surrounding Georgia and Texas as the leaders for Manning haven’t really changed since the season ended, with the possible exception of the NFL Draft — the Bulldogs just beat the Crimson Tide for the national title and produced a remarkable number of NFL draft picks while the Longhorns remain in rebuilding mode, but have a chance thanks to head coach Steve Sarkisian and his relationship with Manning.
Most high-profile quarterbacks like Manning don’t take their recruitments into their senior season, choosing instead to commit earlier as they seek to build strong classes around themselves with the help of their leadership. However, the current state of the Texas program may necessitate Manning waiting to see on-field results this season — it’s simply difficult to imagine Manning making such a monumental decision based merely on his belief in a head coach with one nine-win season and zero conference championships in his career who is coming off a 5-7 season.
Ahead of Manning’s official visit to the Forty Acres, a trip that shouldn’t move the needle much in any direction given Manning’s numerous previous journeys to Austin, perhaps the most noteworthy aspect of his recruitment is that Texas even has a chance at all when competing against programs with greater stability and massively better track records of recent success.
The clear implication is that Manning can see himself in Austin playing for Sarkisian to an extent Georgia has not yet been able to match on the relationship side — otherwise the Bulldogs would be the no-brainer choice at this stage of his recruitment. And although it’s still possible that Manning could decide to commit to Georgia without seeing what Texas can put on the field this fall under Sarkisian, right now it looks like the Longhorns will have a chance to win Manning’s recruitment between the white lines and without the threat from the Crimson Tide.