By RJ Young
FOX Sports College Football Writer
Arch Manning, the No. 1 overall recruit in 2023, has set his official visit dates.
And away we go with, as DJ Khaled would say, “Anotha’ one.”
They’ve got the gold arcs — and we’ve got the golden Arch.
We’ve been hashtag-blessed with remarkable quarterback prospects dating to the 2018 cycle, when there was loud, raucous debate about who was going to be the better college football QB: Justin Fields or Trevor Lawrence.
By most measures, Lawrence won when he became the first true freshman to lead a team to the national title since Oklahoma‘s Jamelle Holieway accomplished that feat in 1985. But you’d be hard-pressed to find an Ohio State fan who is the least bit upset about Fields.
In 2020, Jaxson Dart announced himself to the nation with a remarkable season at Corner Canyon in Draper, Utah, that saw him crowned National Gatorade Player of the Year. That was ahead of his first year at USC, which then led to his being the most impactful offseason transfer to the SEC this season, when he settled on Ole Miss.
In the 2021 class, we saw what Caleb Williams is capable of and why Hollywood can’t wait for him to shine brightly at USC. In the 2022 class, Quinn Ewers — one of six players in the recruiting rankings era to achieve a 1.000 rating — reclassified and joined up at Ohio State a year early, in part to capitalize on what was reportedly a million dollar deal under the new Name, Image and Likeness (NIL) rules for NCAA athletes.
Ewers has since transferred to Texas, where he is expected to lead what might be the most talented Longhorns team since 2009.
And just when we thought we couldn’t hope to find another generational quarterback prospect — one with the talent, name and pedigree to rival Lawrence, Fields, Dart, Williams and Ewers — Arch Manning announced himself at a small private school in New Orleans.
Named for his grandfather and patriarch of the Manning family, Arch has become a focal point of this recruiting cycle for one reason that runs antithetical to how fans now follow their teams’ top prospects. Some of those top recruits have Twitter accounts they created in elementary and middle school to both post highlights and clap-back Kevin Durant-style online.
Manning didn’t create a Twitter account until this past February. What’s more? He hasn’t sent a single tweet.
We’ve never known less about the nation’s No. 1 recruit in the internet age. I daresay there will not be any choreographed photo shoots for the Gram and no cryptic thoughts about coaches or programs on Twitter.
The Mannings are as loud about Arch’s recruitment as the “g” is in lasagna, and so are all the folks with limited access to the process lest they get Vanderjagt’d.
Perhaps even more interesting is that Arch is projected by some to create the most NIL value for any college football player to date. Yet he doesn’t seem to want anything to do with endorsement deals, even though he stands to make millions by most estimates.
Seeing the kind of restraint the Mannings have displayed is uncommon in a sport that invites controversy, thrives on confrontation and is fueled by gossip, innuendo and rumor as much as the scoreboard.
There’s no timeline for an Arch commitment day announcement, and there doesn’t need to be. He knows we’re on his time, and he is truly unprecedented in the sport.
Over the next three weeks, as Manning and his family make their official rounds to each of the three programs they’re scheduled to visit, I’ll provide some insight into what the advantages and disadvantages are for Texas, Alabama and Georgia.
As Manning kicks off his tour across what is and will be SEC country, I looked at UGA and what it has to offer — and not offer — a player of Manning’s caliber and name recognition.
Is Georgia a good fit for Arch Manning?
RJ Young breaks down the debate on whether Georgia, coming off its first national championship in more than four decades, is the right fit for Arch Manning, the top recruit in the country.
Is Georgia the place for Arch Manning?
While Georgia has always enjoyed a reputation for developing first-round NFL Draft picks on both sides of the ball, the position at which UGA is clearly lacking in that regard is quarterback. The Dawgs haven’t seen a quarterback selected in the first round of the draft since Matthew Stafford was picked No. 1 overall in 2009.
Then there’s the fact that UGA has become a quarterback quagmire in the Kirby Smart era. The Dawgs have watched Jacob Eason, Justin Fields, JT Daniels and Jamie Newman all come and go behind the likes of Jake Fromm and Stetson Bennett.
Presently, Brock Vandagriff, Gunnar Stockton and Carson Beck are all blue-chip prospects who might not start multiple games at UGA due, in part, to Bennett’s decision to return to Athens. The program just hasn’t been as friendly as others to the person playing the most important position in the sport. In short, Georgia employs an offense that involves the QB as an asset rather than the focus.
If Manning wants to be the guy and throw the ball all over the yard, UGA is a difficult place to accomplish both. The Dawgs haven’t had even had a 3,000-yard passer in the Smart era. In fact, the most recent QB to pass for 3,000 yards at UGA was Aaron Murray nearly a decade ago.
Yes, the Dawgs are the defending national champions. However, it was their first down there between the hedges in more than 40 years, and they won that national title in spite of their quarterback play — not because of it. Few will forget Bennett putting the ball on the carpet in a one-score ballgame against Alabama that led to the Crimson Tide taking a five-point lead with 10 minutes to go.
And let’s not be coy: Any school Manning selects has a chance to win the national title just because he picks them. He’s just that good and should not be made to wait if he wants to play right away.
Manning could also look no further than Fields to see how one of the most talented quarterbacks of a generation could have a rocky start to his career if he doesn’t get an early chance to win the starting job.
Dare I say, it’d be nice to see the No. 1 player in the 2023 class start Week 1 in 2023. UGA looks like the least likely of the three teams Manning will visit this summer that would allow that.
RJ Young is a national college football writer and analyst for FOX Sports and the host of the podcast “The No. 1 Ranked Show with RJ Young.” Follow him on Twitter at @RJ_Young, and subscribe to “The RJ Young Show” on YouTube. He is not on a StepMill.
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