Arch Manning-Georgia recruiting-UGA recruiting
5-star QB Arch Manning plays for Isidore Newman School in New Orleans. He is the nation's No. 1 overall prospect for the class of 2023. (Jeff Sentell / DawgNation)

Arch Manning: Nation’s No. 1 overall prospect has ‘no idea’ yet about his college decision

Want to attack every day with the latest Georgia football recruiting info? That’s the Intel. This rep shares what Arch Manning had to say about Georgia football and what stands out to him about the national champions. He ranks as the No. 1 prospect for 2023 on the 247Sports Composite ratings.

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NEW ORLEANS, La. -- Arch Manning is a reluctant interview. He wants to play a lot more than to talk about himself.

That’s the same way he is with family. When word spread of an event where he would get an award, he told his inner circle they didn’t need to come. It was no big deal.

Cooper and Ellen Manning, his parents, recently learned he was voted a team captain from other sources. Not from their son.

Arch is described by others as a young man who loves to talk, but rather to draw others in. The nation’s top football prospect for 2023 gives freely around Isidore Newman School when it comes to his time.

When lunchtime rolls around, he will often pick out a new face. That is usually a freshman. He will ask them to join his group for lunch.

He doesn’t know them and wants them to feel welcome. His famous last name does not elevate him over anyone else in his world.

It was much the same when his grandfather Archie started showing up at his middle school practices. Football players at Newman are not exposed to full pads and tackle football until that age.

When Arch started up, his legendary grandfather started to show up. To observe. That was it. He didn’t say a word.

He left it to the coaches on the field to be his coach. That’s just one example of the level of professionalism across the Manning family. Arch is now exactly that at his high school practices.

“This young man is still in high school but is already a true professional,” his offensive line coach Jason Mathews said.

That becomes the impression after watching Arch Manning practice for several days. When someone messes up, Arch doesn’t go supernova on anyone. Not on teammates. Or coaches. He will not curse. There is never anything negative to note. Never even in a bad mood.

That even keel was there before the local TV stations started showing up in middle school to cover his games.

DawgNation asked his teammates to describe him. Saint Villere and Will Randle used the following word string: All-around athlete. Funny. Maybe a little corny. Comedian. Gunslinger. Improviser. Jack-of-all-trades. Locked-in. Quick-witted. Spacey.

That is the surface-level stuff, but deep down there is something more. A lot more. We will devote some time to that topic later in this post.

But for now, rest easy with the feeling he is a maniac competitor. It could be Spikeball or Pickleball. Or the family business of football. He wants to win. Maybe he even needs to.

That’s a Manning trait. He comes from a family of immense quarterback talent. It gets to a point where greatness among Mannings is simplified to one thing: Winning.

“We will be playing a pickup basketball game,” Randle said. “During recess. If he’s not winning, he’s going full speed going ‘We have got to win this!’ and I’m like ‘Dude, this is recess out here.’”

“We’re not about to play for the Super Bowl,” Villere will say.

Yet that is any competition to Arch.

When DawgNation was afforded the chance to speak to Manning last week in New Orleans, he was candid and engaging. He did not yet have all his “Omahas” figured out yet when it comes to a college decision.

“I really have no idea right now,” Manning said. “I kind of have narrowed it down a little bit. I don’t have a timeline or anything like that. I’m just kind of focusing on spring football right now.”

Newman football is his focus right now. There is no debating that. He badly wants to bring the first state championship to Newman.

5-star QB Arch Manning is nation's No. 1 overall college prospect in the class of 2023. (Jeff Sentell/ DawgNation)
Jeff Sentell, Dawgnation

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Arch Manning: What he told DawgNation about Georgia football

Georgia offensive coordinator Todd Monken visited Newman’s spring drills last Thursday. The national champion play-caller studied Manning. If Arch was doing anything, Monken was there to absorb it all.

How does Manning feel about Georgia?

“I think Georgia has a really good staff,” Arch Manning said. “They are just coming off a national championship. There are a lot of good players. Especially on defense. You saw last year they were surrounded by talent. 15 NFL Draft picks. There is a lot to like about Georgia.”

“I’m looking forward to another visit. To kind of get a final go-around with them.”

A chance practice encounter with his father, Cooper, offered another window into what the family sees in Athens. It was the first day of full pads this spring for the Greenies and he entertained a few topics.

The interest in Georgia ignited with former line coach Matt Luke. The Manning family knew him well from his time as head coach at their beloved Ole Miss. Cooper also knew former assistant Cortez Hankton. Hankton is a fellow New Orleans native.

“I had a history as well with Kirby,” Cooper Manning said. “I had a lot of friends go to the University of Georgia. It is a great school. You can kind of start to see them now have some real success. I went to Athens multiple times when I was in college. It is a great institution. I have a lot of friends that went there and still live in Athens. They are big Georgia fans and it is an easy place to like. I wouldn’t consider it a reach as to how he started to take a look at Georgia. It is a great program but also a familiar program as well.”

This will be entirely Arch’s decision.

“Arch is going to make this decision 100 percent on his own,” Cooper Manning said. “We are just, I don’t know, I feel like more of a concierge desk than I am a parent at times with this. With me, it is like we have got to leave on this date and we have got to be back on this date.”

A few thoughts on the eventual Arch Manning decision

Newman has another week of spring practice up to May 20. Then it will be go-time for his process.

The month of June will advance his decision a great deal. That will be the month for officials and Manning has said Alabama, Georgia and Texas are likely to get those. Florida and LSU are also on his mind, too.

The family’s annual QB camp, The Manning Passing Academy, also takes place in June.

College visits are not permitted during the July dead period. And then in August every team on his radar - namely Isidore Newman - will place their full attention on season prep.

DawgNation has learned Manning will have the course credits for the flexibility of graduating in December and enrolling somewhere in January of 2022. That will be a new thing for Newman, but the steps have been made to allow him the ability to do that, if necessary.

He will have his younger brother, Heid, on those officials. The junior Newman offensive lineman has a personality fit for ManningCasts. He’s outgoing and Arch will appreciate his sibling playing first fiddle in conversation during his officials.

Remember that concept of winning? That’s something inherent within the Manning clan with football. Archie was a Hall of Fame college QB at Ole Miss but never played on good NFL teams. Eli and Peyton never got the chance to play for a national championship in college.

They both won Super Bowls. Their careers have been defined by clutch performances on football’s biggest stages. That’s something that matters to Arch here.

“I think Arch said a long time ago that he wasn’t sure he wanted to go to a place where he looked across the field and went ‘Man everybody on that team is better than everybody on this team’ and that’s hard,” Cooper Manning said. “I think he does appreciate being around other great athletes that are motivated. That want to be there and not guys that are ‘Oh shoot we have lifting tomorrow at seven’ but guys that are excited about lifting at seven in the morning because it is going to help them get better.”

“That’s kind of how he is looking at it. At the same time, I think he wants, like anybody, to make great friends and have a great experience in college. There’s a lot of time outside of the locker room and you want to have a balance and enjoy yourself. There are going to be a lot of lumps in college and some headwinds and some speedbumps and things that go wrong. At the end of the day, you want to be where you can be most happy when the wind is hitting you in the face.”

If there’s a behind-the-scenes thought that could benefit an Alabama or a Georgia, that might be it. Texas has a strong offensive reputation but has yet to establish a winning culture under second-year coach Steve Sarkisian.

Cooper Manning said the name, image and likeness craze now dominating recruiting will not be a key influencer on his son’s decision.

“That, more than anything, will be us going back to the old school way,” Cooper Manning said. “Certainly evaluating things on the merits of each school well before anything like NIL ever existed.”

In the midst of this hoopla over the nation’s No. 1 recruit, his son remains grounded.

“I’m just proud of all the friends he has and the things I hear from freshman parents,” Cooper Manning said. “Saying that Arch is kind to them and tries to treat them like a peer. As opposed to a senior and a freshman sort of deal. The other day there was a kid he thought was getting picked on a little bit and he called and took him to lunch. That sort of thing makes me proud.”

“That type of stuff there is far more important to me than touchdowns.”

He realizes how it might sound for him to break down his son on the football field. So he passes on that. He will leave that to others.

Just like Archie tried to be at his grandson’s middle school practices.

“What I will say here is he just loves playing ball,” Cooper Manning said. “He never wanted to play video games or watch TV. He wanted to be outside shooting hoops or catching fly balls or hitting grounders. Throwing and diving catches. He wanted to be outside. I don’t care if it was on a trampoline or catching balls off a diving board. He just liked playing sports and competing and he was good at it, so that fed it even more.”

Like most fathers, he seeks out things his sons like to do. That way they could all be together.

“I wish he played more golf,” his father said. “He’s a good golfer, but he doesn’t play enough. I like getting to do things with my kiddos. That’s another thing I like to do. I wish all of them played more. They like to golf, but not as much as I do quite yet.”

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5-star QB Arch Manning is nation's No. 1 overall college prospect in the class of 2023. (Jeff Sentell/ DawgNation)
Jeff Sentell, Dawgnation

What drives Arch Manning?

Arch Manning took a lap around the subject of what playing quarterback means to him.

Does he play with his head? His eyes? Scanning the field? Getting into the playbook?

“I try not to think about it like that,” Arch Manning said. “It is really just having fun playing a game. I mean there is a lot that goes into it. Xs and Os wise especially. Many different things about it. But it is really about being around the game a while and learning and having a good feel for it all.”

That seems like the quote attributed to the family at the Manning Family Athletic Center at Newman. The plaque by the football field reads “play hard and have fun” and he is aligned with that.

“I truly love football,” Arch Manning said. “I think a lot of people are in it for different reasons but I really love the game. It is a big part of my family. We’ve all been around it for a while. It is just fun playing with your friends and I’ve really enjoyed it every step of the way.”

What is he looking for in the right school?

“I’m really not sure,” he said. “I’m still looking for that gut feeling. I haven’t gotten it yet. I’m looking for that. Maybe on the official visits. Or maybe then later when it comes to the season.”

Is it a lot of pressure to live up to the Manning bloodline? Or is it more his good fortune to have three of the game’s greatest QBs in the family?

“I really don’t look at it like that at all,” Arch Manning said. “I’m just kind of out here playing football with my friends. Just a bunch of good guys. It has been fun. I really don’t feel any pressure playing football. It is really just all kind of fun for me.”

A large No. 18 jersey sign hangs on the outside wall of Newman’s Tuohy gymnasium. Cooper, an All-State receiver himself, wore No. 18. Peyton and Eli Manning then extended the family tradition.

From the jump, Arch wanted his own path.

He started wearing No. 16 in middle school. The desire was to make that his own. He’s seen no need to deviate from it.

The most impressive thing about Arch Manning

He was the first freshman to start the season at QB for Newman. That’s something neither of his uncles did. His uncles also never played in the state championship game either. The school has never won one.

Arch is built for it. A close game in the 2019 quarterfinals was an early tell. Newman was down one point with two minutes to go against a team most thought they were better than.

“He was a freshman at the time,” Randle said. “We were all freshmen. We had seniors out there who were great leaders. But I just remember him being the calmest one in the huddle. He was the one who was like ‘Guys we have got this’ with the most confidence, but still competitive to get it done. But he was just so calm. You could tell he had that leader characteristic already.”

Mathews, his offensive line coach, is a petroleum engineer. He works for the U.S. Department of the Interior. He’s been coaching Arch since the middle school days when Archie came by to watch his 145-pound grandson.

Mathews appreciates how Arch always has not just a kind word, but a kind minute or three with his daughter Mardi. Yet he notices the same with everyone’s son or daughter. Pretty much all the time.

“I would never want to be in his shoes,” Mathews said. “He has all this pressure on him. He can’t go anywhere nowadays. At high school games, there are random people coming up to him on the sidelines asking for pictures and autographs.”

For the chance to talk about Arch, he left one of Mardi’s softball tournaments during a lunch break.

“I wouldn’t come home for lunch to make a phone call if I didn’t like the kid,” Mathews said. “... Arch is the kind of guy you do things like this for. Just so humble. There is no arrogance about him. At all.”

After getting the chance to watch practice for four days, the toughest question is trying to peg what Arch does best. What is his greatest tool? His mind? The vision? Those legs? That Manning arm?

Perhaps the chance to learn from Archie, Eli and Peyton his whole life?

That question might derive four or five well-thought-out answers.

“He was born with God-given talent,” Mathews said. “A lot of people would be satisfied with that talent. I would say the biggest gift he has is taking that talent and advancing it every single day. You see him doing footwork. You see him taking his drops. You see him making his reads. His progression with things. A lot of people would be satisfied with that name. A lot of people would be satisfied with the gifts he has. But I’m really looking at a kid that I feel won’t be satisfied until he becomes the best Manning.”

“I don’t see him ever taking days off in the weight room. I don’t ever see him going out and partying. He’s always currently studying the game in high school. It is his senior year coming up now. A lot of kids are kind of enjoying their lives and their senior years and going off and doing things. Every time I talk to him, this young man is studying the game and trying to improve. That’s something that is coming from inside. That’s something driven solely by him.”

“It is one of those things where you put him in an environment and you put people around him that are negative, I still think he is centered. He’s centered by a good family. He’s centered by a good community and he’s always wanting to make that community and family proud.”

5-star QB Arch Manning is the nation's no. 1 overall prospect for 2023 on the 247Sports Composite ratings. (Jeff Sentell / DawgNation)
Jeff Sentell, Dawgnation

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