Darkhorse University Program Could Be a Threat to Arch Manning

The consensus over the past few weeks has been that Alabama, Georgia and Texas are the three teams to beat for five-star quarterback Arch Manning in 2023.

Manning, 6-foot-4/215 pounds from New Orleans, LA, is ranked on 247Sports composite rankings as the No. 1 player overall for the 2023 recruiting class.

The nephew of two former Super Bowl MVPs (Peyton and Eli Manning) is the nation’s highest-profile rookie, thanks to his elite skills and famous football pedigree.

Manning kept things close to the vest when recruiting, but his love for Texas and Georgia was evident throughout the process. My read on Manning’s recruitment is that he likes the vibe in Athens, but he feels most comfortable with Longhorns head coach Steve Sarkisian.

Alabama is still in the game, but after receiving a commitment from 2023 four-star quarterback Eli Holstein last month, it looks like the Crimson Tide could fade in the race for Arch.

Arch Manning (10) during the LHSAA State Semi-Final game as Newman takes on St Thomas at the Cajundome in Lafayette, LA. Thursday March 3, 2022.
Arch Manning Newman 20590 Basketball

Florida, LSU and Ole Miss are still trailing in the battle for Arch, but it would be a surprise at this point if the coveted rookie signed up for one of those three programs.

Georgia or Texas are the most likely destinations for Manning. But there is another program that could be a dark horse contender to land the talented quarterback.

I don’t think we can rule out Arch shocking everyone and choosing Virginia over Georgia and Texas.

Yes, you read that right – I think the Virginia Cavaliers could potentially pull off the clash of the decade and land the best rookie in the nation.

Arch has deep family ties to Virginia. His mother went to school in Charlottesville and his sister is currently a student in Virginia (his aunt, Peyton’s wife, also went to Virginia).

I don’t think Manning likes the offense that Kirby Smart and his team are leading in Georgia. It obviously works for the Bulldogs – they are the defending national champions. But it’s not an offense that really allows a quarterback to shine. It’s a heavy offense that needs more of a quarterback play director instead of a superstar.

Texas’ offense under Sarkisian probably suits Manning better. But if Sarkisian struggles in the second year (he went 5-7 in his first year as the program’s head coach), it could change Manning’s perception of the Longhorns (another losing year could also cost his job). to Sarkisian).

Virginia could be an attractive option for Manning. It’s a place where Manning could be unleashed and truly excel. Cavaliers head coach Tony Elliott served as Dabo Swinney’s offensive coordinator at Clemson for seven years. With Elliott leading the offense, the Tigers won two national championships. Clemson also had two quarterbacks selected in the first round during that span (Deshaun Watson at No. 12 overall in the 2017 NFL Draft and Trevor Lawrence at No. 1 overall in the 2021 NFL Draft).

Manning’s ultimate goal is to reach the NFL. He could probably accomplish that in any school from Louisiana-Monroe to Alabama. Manning has the kind of skills that will show up in a big way no matter the size of the program. It’s not like his future hinges on a program like Alabama or Georgia. He has the luxury of choosing a school for reasons like the vibe of the city around a program.

The Manning family is known for surprising people and taking unexpected routes (like Peyton going to Tennessee). It wouldn’t be entirely shocking to see Manning go against the grain and choose Virginia over some of the big schools that have fought for Arch over the past two years.

Featured image via Scott Clause / USA Today / USA TODAY NETWORK

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