Top-ranked 2023 quarterback recruit Arch Manning is arguably the most sought-after football prospect in the entire country, regardless of classification.
That is not just due to his talent -- which is immense -- but also due to the marketability and impact he would bring to any program that manages to secure his signature.
His recruitment has already been on a different level from the typical blue-chip quarterback to the point where many think he could become a multi-millionaire before he even takes a snap on a college field.
While it might seem hyperbolic, Manning's games at Isidore Newman are already set to be a mainstay on ESPN in the coming seasons.
“Arch Manning I could see making $10 million as a freshman in college,” The Action Networks Darren Rovell said on the Dan Patrick Show earlier this month. “Everyone who had Peyton and Eli are gonna wanna sign him. … When you say, ‘Who’s the guy who’s gonna come in and blow this thing up?’ That’s the guy who I think of. But he’s got two years to go.”
With the nephew of Super Bowl winners Peyton and Eli, comes star power, publicity, and excitement - an excitement that has not been seen around The 40 Acres since the signing of Chris Simms in 1999.
There is always the possibility that Manning could suffer from the same pressure issues that Simms (son of Super Bowl-winning Phil) struggled with during his time in Austin. That is less than likely, though, given Manning's unparalleled performance as the starter for the Greenies, throwing for 4,081 yards, 53 touchdowns, and 13 interceptions in just 18 games during his freshman and sophomore campaigns
Heading into his junior season, those numbers are expected to skyrocket even further, with Manning selected as the unanimous No. 1 overall quarterback in the 2023 class.
But can the Longhorns out-duel the likes of Alabama, Clemson, LSU, Ole Miss or Tennessee for the NFL legacy?
Before the events of the past few days, that answer likely by the end would have been no.
The draw of regularly competing for national titles at Alabama, Clemson, or LSU was always going to be hard to beat -- not to mention trying to beat their impressive track records for producing successful NFL talent.
And the familial connections at Ole Miss? Those cannot be overlooked.
Arch's grandfather Archie and his uncle Eli both starred for Ole Miss, earning Heisman trophy nominations, while his uncle Peyton was a finalist for the award in 1997 with the Volunteers.
Arch's father Cooper, also attended Ole Miss, where he was expected to be a star wide receiver before an unfortunate complication with his health forced him to end his football career.
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Luckily for the Longhorns, despite the fact that Cooper still bleeds red and blue, the younger Manning will be allowed to make his own decision.
“You become a parent real quickly and I loved Ole Miss, I went there and had a blast, it was a great place for me, but at the same time, you want your children to be happy and come home from school happy, so wherever it is or whatever they want to play, whatever they want to do, you want the best for them," Cooper Manning told SI All-American. "So I’m just trying to be a good parent, a good wingman during this ride.”
With a quarterback guru like coach Steve Sarkisian at the head of the program, Texas is was already in a good position with the young star.
But now sitting in the SEC alongside the powers of Alabama, LSU, Georgia, Oklahoma, that gap has surely been closed.
“I think (the Longhorns) are going to get it going in the next few years and I’m excited to see what they can do," Manning told 247 Sports. "Obviously, he’s a freak of a coach with what he did at Alabama and the Falcons and everywhere else. He knows how to coach quarterbacks. He’s actually just a real nice guy and really laid back and I like him a lot.”
The other SEC schools and Clemson will remain a threat -- particularly Alabama and Ole Miss, the latter of which has a quarterback guru of their own in Lane Kiffin and has been a fast riser since his arrival last season.
Texas, however, is on an upward trajectory of its own, sitting with a top-10 recruiting class for the 2022 cycle before Sarkisian has ever coached a game at Darrell K. Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium.
Texas is also in a great position with a pair of Mannings closest friends and 2023 recruits -- El Campo (TX) running back Rueben Owens, and DeSoto (TX) wide receiver, Johntay Cook.
Manning likely won't make his college decision until the fall.
In fact, he hasn't even officially released his list of top schools.
That means the battle for his signature is long from over, and if the Longhorns can come out and show significant progress in 2021, especially against the likes of future SEC opponents Arkansas and Oklahoma, we very well could see Manning wearing Burnt Orange in 2023.
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