QB Recruit Arch Manning's First Impressions Keep on Hitting

NFL legacy football recruit somehow living up to lofty hype
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If there is a superstar college football recruit the world is already familiarizing itself with, there's no doubt it's Arch Manning

The rising-junior quarterback at New Orleans (La.) Isidore Newman, as in the same prep program his father (Cooper) and uncles (Peyton, Eli) put on the map, hasn't been able to keep out of the news cycle since middle school. 

During the first weekend on-campus visits returned following the pandemic-induced NCAA dead period, the 2023 recruit's name would resurface on grand scale thanks to a Clemson player who took some video of the 6'4", 200-pound phenom throwing a deep ball dime at camp (media was not permitted to film on campus). 

Armed with offers from the nation's top programs, including Alabama and Clemson, the hype has been somewhat warranted to date. After all, Arch has already surpassed his Super Bowl-winning uncles in production as an underclassman on campus. 

The next two years will feature something similar to what the rest of the family went through way back in the high school days -- pressure. The difference, in the age of social media, is thousands of critics to check a teenager's every move. 

It's as creepy as it sounds, though Cooper and the family have long had a specific plan with how the recruitment was to be handled, detailed to Sports Illustrated in early 2020

There aren't many first-person interviews and the rising-junior will likely continue to take visits this summer, towards making a verbal commitment, in order to focus on his development as an upperclassmen. 

"He's stayed grounded but the sky's the limit," Newman head coach Nelson Stewart said in April. "He still hasn't really gotten to that next level, he's constantly growing. He's a rarity and the thing about Arch is he really understands the totality with being a great quarterback. 

"He's always trying to attack things to get better at and he's just a blessing to coach."

Stewart has coached Arch since middle school, so the first impression of the 'next big thing' was made long ago. 

For others, that initial impression is hitting just like it did at Clemson and it goes well beyond the viral clip.

"Honestly I went thinking it was possible that I would come away thinking that the Arch Manning hype was a little to much to soon," All Clemson recruiting analyst JP Priester, who was at the camp, said. "However, those thoughts were put to bed quickly. It was apparent from the beginning that there was just something different about this kid. They were throwing into small holes in a net in one of the end zones and Manning nailed every throw but one, which just barely missed going through. No other quarterback I watched working out came close to matching that. He moves so fluidly and is comfortable throwing on the move, both to the left and to the right. His deep balls are a thing of beauty, with the touch you would expect to see from a seasoned veteran.

"He did not have the strongest arm I saw this weekend but make no mistake the arm strength is there and he made every throw that was asked of him and did so with a laser-like precision that allowed the receivers to bring in the passes without breaking stride. It really was impressive, even if it was just a workout without pads."

When the pads are on during Friday nights in the fall, Manning has been productive and led Newman to big wins and playoff berths. As a freshman he out-paced his uncles by throwing for 2,438 yards and 34 touchdowns, completing 65% of his passes along the way. In 2020, of course condensed because of the pandemic, the sophomore completed nearly 72% of his passes for 1,643 yards and 19 touchdowns.

The frame and mechanics are reminiscent of his uncles, but many have pointed to his overall athleticism more closely linked to his father, who was a wide receiver, or the man he was named after in NFL legend and grandfather Archie Manning. 

[Related: Scouting Arch Manning Following National TV Debut]

 "He can take hits, he doesn't get rattled, he'll hang in there and he can extend plays and make throws that most other quarterbacks can't," Stewart said. "That rare ability that a play is never over. If he gets flushed outside, he can square his body up, he's a tremendous athlete.

"He can throw the intermediate stuff well, the deep stuff well, his footwork is really good. He's comfortable under center and shotgun."

As one may expect, the youngest Manning balances the raw talent with fundamentals and acumen as a quick football study.

"He takes pride in his play fakes, really likes to study defenses," the coach added. "He's used his Zoom calls, whether it's me or with coaches, he's always trying to get better learning schematics and the game itself. "

As for where Manning will suit up in the fall of 2023, the first year the College Football Playoff is to be expanded, that is still to be determined. The Clemson camp and visit is to be followed by stops at Texas and SMU before trips to SEC rivals Alabama and Georgia before the open period wraps up on June 27.

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