For Steve Sarkisian and the Texas Longhorns, there was only one — Arch Manning.
As part of an exhaustive recruiting effort spearheaded by Sark and quarterbacks coach AJ Milwee, the Texas staff put all of their chips on the table for just one quarterback in the 2023 class.
It was truly Arch or nothing.
Texas had no backup plan if Manning took his talents to the defending national champion Georgia Bulldogs — the other frontrunner in a recruitment that ultimately became a tightly-contested two-horse race — but in the end, they didn’t need one.
Arch Manning is a Longhorn, announcing his commitment to Texas on Thursday ahead of the Manning Passing Academy this weekend.
Headlining the 2023 class as the No. 1 overall prospect, per the 247Sports Composite, Manning unsurprisingly had his choice from some of the nation’s more prominent programs — namely, Georgia, Alabama, Ole Miss, and Clemson, which averaged 11.75 wins last season. Of course, Texas, on the other hand, won fewer than half of that sum, notching just five wins in Sark’s debut season.
Yet, despite the clear lack of on-field success in Austin last season, especially in comparison to Manning’s other choices, Texas was always the constant in this recruitment, and arguably the frontrunner from the onset.
The reason? In large part, relationships and reputations.
Whether it be Sarkisian or quarterbacks coach AJ Milwee, Texas’ relationship with the Manning family and the staff at New Orleans (La.) Isidore Newman has been well documented as a factor that would certainly have an impact on Arch’s decision. It only helped the Horns’ cause that if his relationships with the Texas staff ultimately led him to Austin, Manning would be learning under Sark, whose reputation as a quarterback whisperer is even more well-documented and praised.
So, despite the obvious elephant that loomed in his recruitment — Texas’ 5-7 record and any uncertainty about the future of the program in comparison to legitimate title favorites — the relationship Sark and his staff developed with Manning and those around him ultimately mattered more than mere wins and losses. And now, Sark and Milwee will get to enjoy the fruits of their labors, developing the latest in a lineage of Manning quarterbacks to include his uncles Peyton and Eli, and his grandfather Archie.
Analysis (via Daniel Seahorn):
Manning checks in with good measurables at 6’4, 215 pounds with a frame that is showing signs of filling out heading into his senior season. Manning is a two sport player (football and basketball) and possesses solid athleticism that shows up on tape. Plays under duress a good bit and shows he can move in and outside the pocket and make throws moving either way. From a mechanical standpoint not much comes into question as you would expect from a quarterback with the last name Manning. Plays under control and even when he has to make plays on the move he shows the ability to reset his feet and get his shoulders square back to the LOS. Does a good job of getting the ball out and has a very good release. When he decides to cut it loose that ball is up and out and it is clean and crisp. Shows good arm strength to hit all levels of the field and won’t be a question moving to the collegiate level. Whether he is moving to his left or to his right he shows the ability to deliver accurate, catchable balls. Can make throws off platform when things break down and shows good overall ball placement. This kid is going be solid from the neck up in regards to the mental aspect of the game. Having three former NFL quarterbacks in the family is going to have a lot of benefits when it comes to the preparation aspect of the game and this kid will certainly has a wealth of knowledge to dip into. Main questions for me is how his skills will translate to the next level coming from the level of competition he is playing at currently. Playing at the same competition didn’t hurt his uncles Peyton and Eli, but it is something I wonder when watching the tape. Didn’t light up the stat sheet by any means the last two seasons as you are used to seeing elite quarterback recruits do. I’m probably nitpicking in that regard because ultimately developing at the next level is going to tell the story with this kid and he will be as prepared as any quarterback recruit we’ve seen to date when he arrives to campus.