Monday was a rarity in the college football recruiting world — Arch Manning went on the record.
Various media outlets were on hand for New Orleans (La.) Isidore Newman’s first spring football practice, among plenty of college coaches including a pair of Alabama assistants, and the prized class of 2023 quarterback recruit confirmed much of what Sports Illustrated had been tracking within his recruitment.
Georgia, Alabama and Texas remain in the best shape for the NFL legacy.
However, there is still no rush to make a verbal commitment and several visits are likely to lie in between spring ball with the Greenies and a public pledge, and those trips aren’t limited to the top trio either.
Manning confirmed the three are the most likely programs to receive official visits, according to On3’s Sam Spiegelman, other programs newer to the chase for the most famous football recruit in the land could also get him on campus.
It includes in-state LSU and Florida, a pair of coaching staffs that have each had multiple assistant coaches on new regimes having recruited Manning dating back to previous stops. While those trips aren’t locked in, either would be big in the recruitment considering he hasn’t been to either school under Brian Kelly or Billy Napier, respectively. The SEC pair has work to do to contend, per SI Sources, but a puncher’s chance in the race for a potentially generational quarterback is worth pursuit.
The official visit slate should then begin for Manning in the summer, considering he would like to begin narrowing the process towards a decision before the 2022 season begins, at the earliest, if possible.
“It’s kind of getting closer,” Manning told Spiegelman. “I don’t really have a point yet, but I guess it’s kind of narrowing stuff down. I’m looking forward to (making a decision) either before the season or during the season or after the season. If I was ready I’d probably commit right now, but I’m not, so I’m just waiting.”
On the national scope, the contenders (aside from Texas which has not recently offered another quarterback) for Manning continue to court other options just in case he picks another program in the coming months.
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Eli Holstein, the other top quarterback in the state of Louisiana, will almost certainly play college football outside of his home state. The one-time Texas A&M verbal commitment has been back on the market for a couple of months and has frequented Alabama since, with another trip to Tuscaloosa likely in the works before a decision is to be made. The Crimson Tide is of course in the thick of the Manning sweepstakes, so how Nick Saban approaches the priority level and timeline of pushing for Holstein while his assistants continue to track Manning remains a fascinating plan.
Holstein just set the athletic testing record at the Elite 11 Las Vegas regional, where at 6’4″, 222 pounds he ran a 4.64-second 40-yard dash, 4.19-second short shuttle and 38.3″ vertical jump, among other measures. After that, the 2021 Louisiana state champion threw well enough to earn an invitation to the Elite 11 Finals in Los Angeles this summer. Texas A&M continues to pursue him along with Alabama and Florida, where Napier’s ties to Louisiana have made him a key target should he not end up as Saban’s class headliner when all is said and done. UF is the only other campus Holstein has taken a visit to since backing off of Jimbo Fisher’s program.
A&M has spread out scholarship offers far and wide to attempt to replace Holstein’s spot in the class, including relatively recent tenders to Detroit (Mich.) King’s Dante Moore and Pittsburg (Calif.) High School’s Jaden Rashada, two more Elite 11 Finalists. Moore has been among the busier QB recruits on the trail from a visit perspective, taking in Ohio State, Notre Dame, Miami, Oregon and LSU, among others of late. The trips to Eugene and Baton Rouge were official visits, too. Rashada is also considering the Tigers and Ducks but also plans on seeing College Station before a summer decision is to be made.
The Buckeyes may slow its pace for 2023 passers following Monday night’s news, as Dylan Raiola went public with a long-anticipated pledge to OSU over his father’s alma mater Nebraska. The class of 2024 passer could top the rankings next year thanks to a monster 2021 campaign at Chandler (Ariz.) High School, where his strong arm and plus athleticism shined on Friday nights. Raiola, who has been linked to a possible reclassification towards the 2023 class should academics line up later this year, threw for 3,341 yards and 32 touchdowns against just five interceptions in the fall. The Hawaii native, already 6’3″, 220 pounds or so, also shined on the ground with natural instincts with the ball in his hands, adding nine more scores while on the move.
Reclassification or not, and with depth on the current roster behind Heisman contender C.J. Stroud in Kyle McCord and Devin Brown — the Bucks could pass on adding a national name at the position in the current class with Raiola in the fold. OSU has been after Moore for years, along with overtures to Holstein as well as two-sport star Dylan Lonergan, who is another target of Alabama and Florida, of Snellville (Ga.) Brookwood High School. The elite baseball prospect is also considering Stanford and South Carolina, also the only two programs with official visits currently set up by his camp for next month.
Other programs have recently wrapped up the hunt for a passer in the class of 2023, with Marcel Reed picking Ole Miss, Malachi Singleton opting for Arkansas and Gabarri Johnson committing to Missouri on Sunday. Those programs overlapped with emerging names at the position like Avery Johnson of Kansas and Brock Glenn of Tennessee.
Johnson profiles as one of the top dual-threats nationally, rushing for more than 1,000 yards and 22 touchdowns in 2021, and he just added Oregon to the offer list to kick off the month of May. The Ducks face an uphill battle there considering Kansas State and Notre Dame have been tracking him for much longer, but remain in play for Rashada and Moore. Others could soon join the race for Johnson, the Maize (Kan.) High School star, who plans on working out at the Elite 11 Nashville on Sunday.
Glenn, also expected to compete at the regional event, has become Auburn’s key quarterback target with in-state star Christopher Vizzina off the board to Clemson and targets like Moore looking like long shot commitments as more visits are planned and taken. Missouri appeared to be a top contender before adding Johnson over the weekend, leaving Mike Leach and Mississippi State as a program to watch in the developing race. Texas A&M has also been ramping up communication despite having yet to offer the Memphis (Tenn.) Lausanne Collegiate School standout, who totaled 26 touchdowns in 10 games as a junior.
About half of the nation’s Power Five programs have a quarterback committed and the bulk of the rest should have a clearer picture on the possibility of joining that list in the coming weeks and months. The ball begins with Manning, Moore and Rashada, but Holstein, Lonergan, Johnson and Glenn are rising up of recruiting boards at the right time to throw more wrinkles into the national quarterback dominoes.