Arch Manning’s recruitment: Which college football program fits best for the coveted five-star QB prospect

With the 2022 recruiting cycle now in college football’s rearview mirror, races for the 2023 class are heating up and one in particular is getting significant attention. Arch Manning, the nephew of Peyton and Eli and grandson of Archie Manning, is the top-ranked prospect in the class, and it’s no surprise that he’s a quarterback.

It’s also no surprise that his recruitment has been the most closely watched in years as he prepares to become the latest member of one of football’s first families to play on the sport’s big stage. While he has familial ties to Ole Miss and Tennessee, Arch has cast a wide net in his recruitment. Alabama, Georgia and Texas are perceived to be the favorites for the 6-foot-4 signal caller, who told DawgNation this month that “I really have no idea right now”

“I kind of have narrowed it down a little bit,” Manning said. “I don’t have a timeline or anything like that. I’m just kind of focusing on spring football right now.”

Schools such as Clemson, Ole Miss, LSU, SMU and Virginia have also been involved in Manning’s recruitment as he seeks the perfect fit. With the Early Signing Period not arriving until December, there is still plenty of time for the rising high school senior to make his choice. For this edition of Staff Picks, our writers explain which school they believe is the right fit for the potential future star.

Alabama Crimson Tide

Does Manning want to win a national championship? How about a Heisman Trophy? Does he want to be as prepared as possible for the NFL? Of course, and Alabama is the place to do it.

Coach Nick Saban has developed his program into an offensive juggernaut that is founded on a medium-sized village of ultra-talented skill players in a scheme that will prepare them for the next level. Manning should know this by now and take advantage of an opportunity that few college football players have.

Former Tennessee coach Derek Dooley famously said that Alabama doesn’t recruit, it drafts … and it gets the first 25 draft picks. That’s especially true with offensive players in this day and age. Saban called. Manning has to answer with a commitment to the Crimson Tide. – Barrett Sallee

Texas Longhorns

By all accounts, Arch Manning seems to be an outstanding quarterback recruit and a future star based on his immense talents. Ultimately, though, his ability on the field will prove secondary to the sheer weight his commitment has on the sport’s landscape.

While Alabama and Georgia both would benefit greatly from adding a game-changing quarterback recruit, few programs need to win the offseason quite like Texas. The Longhorns are fresh off a 5-7 season, but managed to earn the sport’s attention by nabbing Quinn Ewers from Ohio State. Texas fights back by making an offseason splash, and reeling in the Manning family would rank among the biggest splashes of all time.

Joining a program with a winning tradition would be a safe decision for Manning. Going to a spot where he can culturally transform a program-right as the Longhorns enter the SEC, no less-sets Manning up with the opportunity to leave Austin as a once-in-a-generation legend. And if Manning goes to Austin, there’s no question some of the nation’s top talent will follow. – Shehan Jeyarajah

The consensus on Arch Manning appears to be that he wants to create his own legacy – much like Uncle Peyton choosing to play his college football at Tennessee as opposed to following in his father’s footsteps at Ole Miss. Could he make this happen at Alabama? Sure. Could he make this happen at Georgia? Of course. However, I believe – and have for a while now – that there’s no better place for him to accomplish this mission than The University of Texas.

What sets the appeal of Texas apart from the rest, for me, is the upcoming move to the SEC. Texas is joining the most heralded conference in all of college football, and it would just be perfect for Manning to serve as the face of the Longhorns as they enter the fire pit that is the SEC. I think the Steve Sarkisian offense is perfect for Manning’s skill set, and guiding Texas to a successful debut in the SEC would cement Manning’s legacy for years to come in college football lore. – Jack Crosby

Georgia Bulldogs

Arch Manning’s college choice can be boiled down to two potential roles: he’ll either be the next in a line of quarterback greats making a practical choice based on reaching the College Football Playoff and getting taken in the 2025 NFL Draft, or he’ll be the savior arriving to help lift a program to heights that wouldn’t have been possible without him.

At schools like Alabama, Clemson and Ohio State, he would be the former. All four have had loads of national success and plenty of elite quarterback play in recent years – and will still have elite QB play even if Manning doesn’t come. At a place like Ole Miss, Texas or Virginia, he would be the savior and have the potential for immortalization, as his presence alone would change the ceiling for what those programs can accomplish in the coming years.

At Georgia, he can get both experiences. He would be surrounded by elite talent that would help him reach SEC title games and CFPs … but he could also be a player unlike anything the Bulldogs have seen in over a decade. By the time Manning is draft-eligible in 2025, it will likely be 14 years since UGA has seen a QB taken before the fifth round of the NFL Draft. Manning can change that and excite the program in a fresh way. He can become a Georgia legend – more than just another face from Alabama’s assembly line – while still benefitting from all the perks of playing for an elite program. – David Cobb

Ole Miss Rebels

Let’s start with why this would be a good fit: um, hello, Lane Kiffin! If you want to throw the ball around a bunch, Kiffin is your guy. Plus, the Rebels have no problem producing NFL-caliber wide receivers to catch passes-maybe not at the same clip as Alabama or Ohio State, but certainly respectable. And I don’t buy that Manning couldn’t make a national championship run at Ole Miss. Kiffin has done a great job of bringing transfers to Oxford and NIL, though still a bit uncharted for everyone, has changed the game for teams on the cusp of greatness.

Now on to my more existential theory. A large part of the intrigue of Manning’s recruitment is his journey to establish his own legacy while carrying the weight of one of college football’s most famous family names. But here’s the thing: going to Ole Miss doesn’t preclude him from doing that. Yes, the connections run deep in Oxford, but it’ll have been 20 years since Eli last took the field for the Rebels. With the coverage Arch is already receiving, I don’t suspect the pressure will be any greater there than, say, in Tuscaloosa or Athens. – Ben Kercheval

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