In order to be in the best position to win a national championship, be surrounded by future NFL talent, and join a readymade power, Arch Manning should decide between Alabama and Georgia.
The lame-duck Big 12 school is the best option for the latest ballyhooed talent to emerge from the SEC in terms of carving a legacy.
If Manning can bring Texas back, this would complement the accomplishments of his grandfather Archie and uncles Peyton and Eli during their standout careers in the SEC.
According to the tea leaves, longhorns have a strong shot at the Manning sweepstakes. Texas is first on On3.com’s list of candidates for Manning’s commitment, ahead of Georgia and Alabama, though the rising senior at Isidore Newman in New Orleans has said little publicly to differentiate Texas from those SEC powers.
There’s no wrong choice here.
Among 2023 recruits, Manning is the top choice. No matter what college he chooses, he will play in the NFL.
Manning would enter a robust program at Alabama and Georgia and be tasked with continuing the success.
Today, Alabama quarterbacks are second to none, once known for their defense and bruising tailbacks. Bryce Young of Alabama is the reigning Heisman Trophy winner and an early favorite to be the first overall pick in the 2023 NFL draft. Two of Alabama’s previous quarterbacks, Mac Jones and Tua Tagovailoa, were drafted first.
But Alabama is never about any player, and Manning could have a great career but still not be as good as Tagovailoa, Jones, or Young.
Georgia, the reigning national champion, is emerging as a twin power within the SEC. As with Alabama, signing with Georgia would ensure Manning would be surrounded by elite talent, though defense is coach Kirby Smart’s calling card.
Meanwhile, Texas is coming off a 5-7 season. The Longhorns have never made the College Football Playoff, and since Vince Young was drafted in 2006, they’ve only had two quarterbacks drafted. Since Young, a Texas offensive player, hasn’t been drafted in the first round.
Manning could escape the shadow of his grandfather and uncles by re-establishing Texas as a national power.
Texas will join the SEC by Manning’s junior season. Texas A&M made a grand entrance into the SEC in 2012 with Johnny Manziel. Manning could similarly impact the Longhorns’ debut in the SEC.
Being part of the established elite has never been a prerequisite for the Manning family.
Look at Peyton Manning’s selection of Tennessee. As a member of the Vols’ No. 1 recruiting class in 1994, he became a defining moment for UT’s success in the 1990s.
During Peyton’s recruitment and career, David Cutcliffe was Tennessee’s offensive coordinator. Later, Eli played for Cutcliffe when he was the coach at Ole Miss.
Coach Steve Sarkisian, Alabama’s offensive coordinator for two seasons before becoming Texas’ coach, has a good rapport with Arch Manning.
“He’s a freak of a coach with what he did at Alabama and the Falcons and everywhere else,” Arch Manning told 247Sports last year. “He knows how to coach quarterbacks. He’s just a nice guy and laid back, and I like him greatly.”
Similar to Sarkisian, Alabama offensive coordinator Bill O’Brien has NFL experience. In any case, O’Brien’s chances of being at Alabama in 2023 seem as slim as a coin flip, given the Tide’s history of changing offensive coordinators.
Sarkisian, who played quarterback for BYU, does not have an impressive track record like Alabama coach Nick Saban or Smart. Sarkisian’s alcohol issues cost him his job at Southern Cal in 2015. However, he’s always had a way with quarterbacks. Sarkisian worked as an assistant at USC or Alabama with six quarterbacks who became first-round draft picks.
Texas football isn’t comparable to Alabama or Georgia in its current form. The Longhorns have had five losing seasons and one 10-win season since 2010.
That could be part of the appeal. Manning would be able to paint himself as the savior of a dormant program in Texas.
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