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Arch Manning's Interest In UGA Dispels Negative Offensive Narratives

Quarterback Arch Manning has flirted with Georgia over the course of the past few months. His interest in the Bulldogs helps clear up some negative national narratives surrounding the team.

The Manning family has established a clear pattern for success: go to a national college program with the ability to compete for early reps, showcase your talents, and figure out a way to land in a favorable NFL situation.

Perhaps the most crucial part of that equation is the ability to showcase your talents. The NFL wants college quarterbacks to make high-level reads in pro-style offenses with responsibilities at the line pre-snap. The Manning family is synonymous with all these things, primarily because they have created environments where they are the standard.

For example, both Peyton and Eli Manning spent their collegiate years under the tutelage of talented quarterback guru David Cutcliffe. Cutcliffe was Peyton's offensive coordinator at Tennessee and Eli's head coach at Ole Miss.

Both were regarded as clean prospects in their respective classes because of the responsibility that Cutcliffe gave them. The Mannings are looking to position Arch similarly; their No. 1 priority is ensuring he can play in the NFL. 

Arch currently favors three schools: Georgia, Texas, and Alabama. Alabama's pitch is obvious: head coach Nick Saban is one of the greatest minds in team sports, and the school's past three signal-callers became NFL starting quarterbacks. Young head coach Steve Sarkisian headlines Texas's pitch. Sarkisian ascended to national stardom by calling one of the best seasons in recent memory as the offensive coordinator for Alabama in 2020. That offense featured several first-round draft picks, including quarterback Mac Jones who was selected No. 15 overall by the New England Patriots.

Both Alabama and Texas appear to be at the epicenter of modern collegiate offense. These schools air the ball out and have many talented targets waiting in arms. Manning's interest in both schools is self-explanatory, as these respective offensive systems would help prepare him for the next level.

Why then does Arch have an interest in Georgia? The Bulldogs are considered a run-first football team that hasn't had a wide receiver break the 1,000-yard mark in the twenty-first century. Los Angeles Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford is the only former Bulldog quarterback that went on to have success in a meaningful way in the NFL.

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National pundits have established a narrative that Georgia cannot run modern offenses. While their criticism is justified, the Bulldogs have the resources to run a high-octane passing offense. Historically, they haven't had the right man under center to run those offenses.

Head coach Kirby Smart is beginning to change that narrative. While current starting quarterback Stetson Bennett IV is somewhat limited, behind him are three high-profile quarterbacks with the physical makeup to run an NFL offense. Manning fits that mold as well, and Smart has shown he is willing to adapt to his talent to ensure the success of his program.

Take, for instance, the 2021 defense. Smart understood he had a historic front that only comes around once in a lifetime for a head coach. He typically runs an incredibly systematic defense focused on a team-oriented pass-rush. While he didn't completely abandon that philosophy, Smart and defensive coordinator Dan Lanning did allow rushers to play freer, letting them chase upfield after the quarterback.

This seemingly small change altered the potential of the Bulldog defense. They reached new highs and fielded one of the best defenses in recent collegiate memory. 

The Manning family appears confident Smart will take a similar approach for Arch should he choose Georgia. The team already has shown a commitment to stepping forward into the new era of offense; the physical limitations of their quarterbacks have slightly hamstrung them over the past decade.

Competing for championships yearly is essential to many high-level quarterback recruits, but make no mistake; a prospect's No. 1 goal is to become a first-round pick. Quarterbacks don't want to be babysat, as NFL executives will hold it against them in the pre-draft process.

Over the years, the Manning clan developed a reputation as one of the most analytical, cut-throat sports families of our lifetime. They want what is best for Arch's long-term future, and even his interest in Georgia should have fans excited for the future.

Even if Manning chooses to go elsewhere, the fact that he is seriously considering playing in Athens means that other elite quarterback recruits likely will do the same in coming years. Smart is known for his defensive prowess, but his flexibility and adaptability may make them a powerhouse on the offensive side in a few short years.