Arch Manning sets the table for the state of college football recruiting.
It's true both positionally among quarterbacks and when it comes to moving the needle from an interest standpoint. But this offseason continues to reveal more about the depth behind the world's most famous recruit at the sport's most important position.
Half of the Power Five programs are still looking for the QB1 of their respective 2023 recruiting classes as spring football winds down at the high school level. While the top uncommitted arms reveal a strong class at the very top of a given program's recruiting board, other names have begun to make moves up said board based on 2021 video and head-turning success during the camp and combine circuit.
Avery Johnson has steadily risen since his gaudy junior season at Maize (Kan.) High School wrapped up. The 6-foot-2 talent threw for more than 2,500 yards and ran for 1,000 more while totaling 42 touchdowns in leading the Eagles to 11 wins. He has since validated his overall athletic ability with head-turning dunks on the varsity basketball court and speedy testing times. He ran a 4.5-second 40-yard dash at the Elite 11 Nashville this month.
"I want to be a true quarterback, to really be able to spin it," Johnson said. "I want to use my legs if I need to. I don't want to go to a program, although I'm athletic, where I'm running the ball half the time."
Johnson is among the most athletic prospects at the position nationally, but it's clear he wants to use those tools as a compliment to his throwing ability. It showed in him punching his ticket to the Elite 11 Finals, set for late June in Los Angeles, while working alongside some of the top passers in the class. Just prior, the Kansas native added an offer from Oregon to his list that includes Pitt, Virginia and Washington.
A similar accumulation of offers and interest has surrounded Brock Glenn, the other uncommitted quarterback who earned a ticket to the Elite 11 Finals during the same afternoon. The Memphis (Tenn.) Lausanne Collegiate School star saw a lot of time as a sophomore but pushed forward as a junior, completing 62% of his passes and throwing for 23 touchdowns in 10 games in the fall. The tape got out and he has supplemented it with great offseason samples, adding offers from Auburn, Mississippi State, TCU, Virginia and others schools.
Both Johnson and Glenn have been climbing recruiting boards nationally, each in discussion with programs about potentially adding even more offers with each passing day. In between the upward swing of momentum, each is trying to navigate the recruiting process with all but the same–and relatively soon–verbal commitment timeline.
"The QB dominoes are starting to fall, so I want to get my position here quicker than later," Glenn said. "I do want to take a couple of visits to see how I feel and see which one gives me that feel."
In an ideal setting, each told Sports Illustrated they would already be committed by the time the top passers in the class land in Los Angeles to compete for the Elite 11 crown. That means two critical factors will play true for the pair–official visits will begin to shape favorites among the offers while new options could shake up the recruitment altogether. Both are talking to multiple programs that have yet to officially make an offer while taking closer looks at those who jumped in the race earlier.
Johnson has an official visit set to Oregon for the middle of June, where new offensive coordinator Kenny Dillingham built a relationship with the dual-threat dating back to his days at Florida State. Johnson plans to lock in visit dates with Washington and Virginia in the near future. Kansas State, the in-state program to which he is most familiar and most complimentary of to date, could also get a trip before all is said and done.
"K-State is very high on my board," Johnson said.
Michigan, LSU, UCLA and Miami are among the programs in communication with him despite not having offered a spot just yet.
The next step from each could shake up the visit plans and potentially the timeline altogether, hypotheticals Glenn is also aware of as his internal clock toward a decision ticks.
The Tennessean just took his first official visit to TCU with family in tow, and the new staff in town made a strong impression. Now programs like Auburn and Mississippi State will look to counter with their own officials, essentially the final in-person impression before a verbal commitment could come down. Texas A&M, which hasn't offered Glenn, has also ramped up interest.
"We've built a really good relationship," Glenn said of Texas A&M's interest. "They've liked me for a while now. Coach Darrell Dickey and my head coach have a really good relationship, so it kind of started there for them. Then coach Dickey was able to watch me throw not too long ago and he loved it.
"Now they want me to come on a visit and I definitely plan to. It's been great getting to know him, we talk once a week or so."
Both emerging passers, in addition to the similar commitment timeline, talked to SI about potentially saving one of their five allotted official visits for the fall in case the coaching carousel spins like it did in 2021 or if a new program with promise enters the race later in the cycle.
"Or in case of an emergency," Johnson said.
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