Most college football fans are aware of the latest Manning prodigy. Even those that don’t follow the ebbs and flows of recruiting.
Word has spread of the 6-foot-4-plus frame that carries 220 pounds. Arch’s game actually traces back best to his grandfather. Archie Manning put on the first Johnny Manziel act in the SEC back in the 1960s.
Arch Manning, the son of Cooper, was the first Newman freshman QB to start the season opener. Ever. Uncle Eli and Uncle Peyton never did that.
“The Manning family, while they are the first family of football in New Orleans, they are also the first family of Newman School,” Newman coach Nelson Stewart said. “Newman Football. When you walk in here to the Manning Athletic Complex, there’s only one number that hangs up. That’s 18. For good reason.”
“I never thought that my first teammate’s son that I ever coached would be Cooper’s from all the way back then. It has turned out pretty good so I’m not complaining.”
Arch has recently taken visits to Alabama, Georgia and Texas. Those are the presumed schools to watch. For an overview of his mid-March visit to Athens and his status as a time capsule recruit, this is your story.
But that’s the side Stewart can unlock. He has evolved into the Team Manning spokesman. He will get information from this family after visits and sparse that out in the limited hours he has to juggle umpteen media requests.
The interviews that Arch does himself have been very limited, if at all.
“I try to take on as much as I can so he can have a normal high school existence,” Stewart said. “He’s a delightful kid. He’s great at interviews and speaking for himself. I try to structure my day so I know what my windows are for [media requests] so we can accommodate as many people as possible.”
He’s actually quite adept at it.
Stewart played with Cooper and Peyton. He was a defensive lineman at Newman. He was there for Cooper’s senior year in 1991.
The head coach at Newman graduated back in 1995. That was the year after Peyton did.
“It is completely different,” Stewart said when asked about any similarities.
And then maybe it is not. Not in a certain light. When Peyton led Newman, the biggest possible national spotlight was on Newman football.
The biggest possible national spotlight is on Newman football now. That hasn’t changed.
The scope of that media glare has changed. Social media combines with the fervor of no less than four national news outlets that make it their business to be the be-all and end-all of college recruiting coverage.
“What is different now is social media and the internet has just changed everything,” Stewart said. “Going back to middle school this will be seven years of this. He’s been playing quarterback since the sixth grade. It is crazy all of these highlights that pop up and people can follow him and what not so early.”
“Thankfully, he’s really not caught up in the social media aspect.”
Arch has had a private Instagram account for some time. There’s also Snapchat, but he created a Twitter account. While the golden QB Arms in the 2024 and 2025 classes tweet several times per day, he has not tweeted at all yet.
Arch Manning follows no one. His Twitter account was created in February of 2022. It has more than 8,000 followers.
“I think Newman along with his family has done an outstanding job of bubbling him up and letting him be a kid,” Stewart said. “Certainly there are times outside of here where it is unlike anything I have ever seen. I’m just glad they’ve all handled it so well.”
That Calculus teacher stopped Stewart the other day about Arch.
“He said that I just wanted to tell you he sits in the front row and is just a wonderful bright kid to teach,” Stewart said. “He sometimes runs little sports camps for kids. We have had so many freshmen come in that didn’t know anybody. Arch would show up on his first day with a bag of his old Newman stuff from a year ago just so that kid had team gear to wear. He is a sweet kid. He babysits. He is just a wonderful kid. His character and how he carries himself.”
Archie Manning has been quoted at times saying that his grandson is such a “sweet kid.” That’s what he is most proud of.
“You wouldn’t think that with him being 17 years old and in the spotlight like that,” Stewart said. “He doesn’t like the spotlight. He wants to dress like everybody else. He likes to be a good teammate. He doesn’t stand in front. I think he likes to lead by example.”
A member of the UGA student " Spike Squad" holds a sign in support of 5-star visitor Arch Manning at the Georgia-South Carolina game as a priority recruit on Sept. 18, 2021, in Athens, Ga. (Jeff Sentell/DawgNation)
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“What a damn throw”
Stewart tried to be sneaky. He knew what was coming, but tried to slide the rising freshman into the game in the middle of the spring scrimmage.
The hope was for a normal debut for an 8th-grade football player.
“I didn’t start him,” Stewart said. “It was at the 40-yard line and I was standing behind him. It was kind of a senior there thing that was the heir apparent. He walked right up to the line and for some reason, they are in man coverage.”
Arch knew. Even back then. Attacking man coverage is instinctual to a Manning.
“He turned and looked at me and I watched him with a little hand gesture and all of a sudden,” Stewart said. “Boom. He threw a 40-yard touchdown on his first-ever pass. It was pretty crazy.”
His best throws since are the off-schedule throws. When he came back for his sophomore year, it was in midst of the pandemic. Newman had only practiced for two weeks.
The offense had even all been quarantined at one time.
“If you look at the highlight film some of his first throws are when he gets flushed out of the pocket rolling to his left throwing across his body,” Stewart said. “Just a strike to the back of the end zone. I think it was against East Jefferson. There was actually a documentary crew or somebody there. I was just like ‘What a damn throw’ and ‘I can’t believe he made that.’ It is the ability to improvise and extend plays that makes him great.”
“Whether it is a shovel or how he can maneuver or run around. He was our best runner this past year. We played against a school called Berkeley Prep this year.”
Berkeley Prep had players everywhere. The kind that would sell a lot of helmets and pads in an equipment catalog.
“It was an ESPN game,” Stewart said. “I turn to my right and it is Kirby Smart. I’d never met him.”
“Stew,” Smart barked his way.
He told the coach of the national champions it was an honor to meet him.
“Coach who scheduled these guys?” Stewart said Smart told him in reply. “I don’t like your chances.”
Smart was laughing as he said it. He knew a powerhouse when he saw one.
Arch’s first run against Berkley was a Power read.
“He took it seventy yards,” Stewart said. “I actually smiled at coach Smart and said ‘Yeah we put that one in on Wednesday’ and it was kind of interesting.”
By now, the young Manning has played so much football. He’s been a starting QB on a Newman team for seven years now.
He is a rat for taking notes. Stewart can expand the playbook with no hesitation. Motions. Under center. Tempo.
This will be the hardest fall slate ever for Newman. There are a lot of 5A schools on the docket for the 2A program. He’s not throwing to a lot of college prospects. A lot of his throws are based on timing. He doesn’t have the D-1 receivers that can sprint past defenders.
He is probably the fastest player on the team. He can dunk. Arch played a key role on Newman’s state basketball team. He has been a high jumper and loves the coaches on the team. The O-line coach. His QB coach.
Stewart said that Arch is probably a 4.5 or a 4.6 kid in the 40.
“He can roll,” his coach said. “I think he’s almost a scratch golfer and he doesn’t even golf. He’s such a great athlete and loves to compete.”
5-star junior QB Arch Manning was in attendance at the Georgia-South Carolina game as a priority recruit on Sept. 18, 2021, in Athens, Ga. He is the grandson of Ole Miss legend Archie Manning. (Jeff Sentell/DawgNation)
Arch Manning: A intriguing HS comparison with two UGA QBs
This correspondent took a look at Manning’s high school production. It brought to mind what the last two Georgia QB signees have done.
According to various reports, Manning has thrown 81 touchdown passes and 18 interceptions at Newman. As a means of comparison, the University of Georgia has signed a pair of All-American quarterbacks in each of the last two recruiting classes.
The Bulldogs likely always will. That’s what elite programs do. Georgia can’t have a season in which it only has one SEC-ready QB on the depth chart. Not while chasing titles. A program is only one injury away from a real problem if it spaces out its big-time QB signees.
Both, like Manning, came from the smaller school level. It is intriguing to chart what each of these three incredible signal-callers did during their first three years of high school football.
|First three HS seasons||Brock Vandagriff||Gunner Stockton||Arch Manning|
Vandagriff’s stat line merits a clarifier. He played receiver his freshman year and only threw 25 passes. He did have 472 receiving yards that season. He also missed a chunk of his junior year while recovering from a broken leg. When he returned, he stayed in the pocket and didn’t rely on his legs. That was after he rolled for 1,001 rushing yards as a sophomore.
Stockton is a statistical marvel. He had a prep career that challenged and broke all-time Georgia state records established by Trevor Lawrence and Deshaun Watson. Not the mention his brilliant senior year. He went for 4,134 passing yards, 55 touchdowns and one interception. He had 956 yards and 15 scores on the ground.
Manning’s career arc reflects that talent that he did and did not have around him. He threw for a career-best 2,438 yards and 34 touchdowns as that Day 1 freshman varsity starter. He threw for 47 combined touchdowns across his last two seasons.
The arm strength is elite. Is it a Josh Allen type of arm? Or a Matthew Stafford? No.
But some of his best throws are not even on film. Stewart will joke with Texas coach Steve Sarkisian or Georgia offensive coordinator Todd Monken about those.
“His best throws we can’t even do here,” Stewart said. “We don’t have a guy here that can run that far with some of those elite throws. His arm strength is elite. With him, the play is never dead. If the pocket collapses he has a really keen ability to break outside the pocket and work that scramble drill.”
“The ability to throw in tight windows also stands out.”
Manning can squeeze that dig route between a hook and a middle defender as good as anyone. The skill and scheme versatility trends he displays show a complete quarterback. A true professional QB.
“He can run the option and he can run a Pro-Style,” Stewart said. “He can run the Spread. He can do RPOs. He can do a lot of the things that you are seeing. I think that even though he is 6-foot-4-and-a-half and is 220 pounds he doesn’t really fall under that one umbrella. He can still run that zone read and do those things. With the top-tier guys, you are seeing more of that. More of that QB run on schedule in the pros like with Jared Allen. He can do all those things.”
The best part of his game would be those off-schedule plays. Where he can escape and turn the wrong call against the bad look into a plus play.
“There’s a great clip,” Stewart said. “He breaks outside and it is a no-no-no-no and then all of a sudden it is a left-handed shovel pass for a big one. He can do that.”
It was like when Stewart had Odell Beckham Jr. at Newman.
“He kept catching it with one hand and I would correct him and finally he wasn’t dropping it,” Stewart said. “Ever. So then I was like you can do that Odell but nobody else on the team can. That’s how it is with Arch and our other quarterbacks. I tell the backups that he is going to do this here, but you guys do not do it this way.”
“He’s just a lot of fun to coach.”
Stewart said Newman is starting a program for mid-year graduates to enroll early.
“They are starting to look at that more,” he said. “He could have that opportunity.”
There is potential here for that. That will be up to Manning to decide. It will be up to him just how many of the online courses he wants to take over the summer.
“He will have to make that decision if that is something he wants to do,” Stewart said.
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5-star junior QB prospect Arch Manning was in attendance at the Georgia-South Carolina game as a priority recruit on Sept. 18, 2021, in Athens, Ga. Manning rates on the 247Sports Composite as the nation's No. 1 player for 2023. (Jeff Sentell/DawgNation)
091821 Athens: Recruit Arch Manning stands on the sideline wearing a Georgia hat watching Georgia prepare to play South Carolina in a NCAA college football game on Saturday, Sept 18, 2021, in Athens. “Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@ajc.com”
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