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Arch Manning to Texas Is One of Many Pieces for the Longhorns to Be Back (for Real)

Adam KramerJune 24, 2022

Jacob Kupferman/Getty Images

The most impactful football recruiting announcement of the past decade came without warning. But when Arch Manning, nephew of Peyton and Eli Manning, grandson of Archie Manning and son of Cooper Manning, announced his college destination on Thursday, it sent a tidal wave that stretched well beyond the world of football.

No production. No buildup. No public reveal of an overwhelming, accompanying NIL sponsorship—at least not yet.

Just a tweet from Arch, the No. 1 quarterback and No. 1 overall player in the class of 2023, according to 247Sports, that included six simple but hugely impactful words.

“Committed to the University of Texas,” Arch wrote. (He also added a #HookEm hashtag and included a photo of himself in Texas gear.)

Just like that, one of the most talked about high school football players in recent memory—the latest Manning in a decorated line of successful Mannings—picked Texas over Alabama, Georgia, LSU, Clemson and others.

It’s worth mentioning, of course, that this is merely a verbal commitment at the moment. At the same time, given the patience and lack of publicity of this decision, it feels mighty stable.

While Arch needed only six words (and a hashtag) to end one of the most intriguing recruiting battles in the history of the sport, the news prompted a flood of responses that used three familiar, tired words.

Texas is back.

That statement, of course, has been put through a workout over the past decade. It began as a rallying cry to signal the return of more successful moments. But when Texas struggles, as it often has of late, it mutates into a running joke baked in sarcasm for rival fan bases to scream from the mountaintops.

With a record of 70-55 over the past 10 years, there have been ample opportunities to mock the Longhorns—a program with more resources than just about any school in the nation.

Three coaching changes have been made in that time, and zero Big 12 titles have been won.

But now, on the heels of the commitment of another blue-chip quarterback, there should be a sense of hope and optimism around the program.

To be clear, though, you can’t lose to Kansas in the sport of football—something the Longhorns did last fall—and be declared “back” less than one year later.

That loss, one of seven for the Longhorns last year, showed Texas was a long way from being back in Steve Sarkisian’s first season as head coach.

Many pieces have come together since then. The roster still has work to do, but the overhaul is underway.

Jacob Kupferman/Getty Images

One quarterback, no matter how talented, does not rebuild a program. In the past few years, however, Texas has added Maalik Murphy (No. 12 QB in 2022), Quinn Ewers (No. 1 overall player in 2021) and Hudson Card (No. 4 QB in 2020) to the roster.

Ewers, who enrolled early at Ohio State, transferred to Texas this offseason. It’s possible that the two best players from their respective recruiting classes will likely hold down the position in Austin for the foreseeable future.

This is how sustained success occurs. It’s how Alabama has done it in a post-Lane Kiffin era. It’s how Clemson assumed dominance under Dabo Swinney. It’s how teams without a historically good defense, a unit like Georgia's last season, win consistently over a prolonged period of time.

The formula for sustained college football success in 2022 isn’t complicated.

Find a quarterback, develop the quarterback, recruit his successor and surround these players with talent year after year. Recruit, recruit, recruit.

Oh, and treat the transfer portal with the same enthusiasm. While this part is relatively new, the impact could be both immediate and significant.

Alabama and Georgia have done this better than anyone, and the results reflect that. Texas A&M, one of the Longhorns’ greatest rivals, are attempting to do the same after putting together one of the best recruiting classes in recent memory.

Texas, after delivering 247Sports’ No. 5 class in 2022, has begun the process of following suit. And at a time when NIL is emerging as a significant piece of the recruiting process, the Longhorns are equipped to thrive in this new world of talent acquisition.

Arch’s commitment, while not the single determining factor in Texas' attempted resurgence, is significant on a variety of fronts. As a player, he is loaded with possibility.

The soon-to-be senior has thrown for 72 touchdowns in his first three years at Isidore Newman High School in New Orleans, Louisiana. At 6’4” and already 215 pounds, he is NFL size and has been blessed with an NFL arm.

He is a Manning, after all. The comparisons to Peyton and Eli are already tired. But the pedigree is fascinating, and one cannot simply discard the positive influence this football family will have.

Tim Warner/Getty Images

But more significantly than his potential is what this commitment signifies. At a time when Texas has failed to produce results, some of the premier players in the country are still choosing to spend their collegiate careers in Austin.

This isn’t just the commitment of a single player. This is the most coveted recruit in recent memory buying into the vision of the head coach—a message that will be felt across the state of Texas and beyond.

The individual player, while hyped and talented, is merely a piece of the puzzle, though. One quarterback won’t fix a decade of underwhelming results. Four quarterbacks won’t, either.

Consistent recruiting success coupled with sustained development will ultimately dictate whether Texas can rediscover itself in due time.

It doesn’t start with a Manning or end with a Manning; it has already begun with other players, and it will stretch well beyond a single commitment. If the roster continues its overhaul, a turnaround could be inevitable.

While it’s difficult to put a timeline on such a resurrection, largely because the expectations for Texas vary wildly depending on the individual crafting them, the momentum feels real.

This is how Texas rebuilds.

It might not take place in 2022 or even 2023. Momentum, after all, doesn't necessarily mean instant results, and even a nine-win season in 2022 wouldn't be enough.

For the Longhorns to truly be back, they must win at a scale and a consistency reserved for a select few. Only then will the sarcasm fade into oblivion.

With a move to the SEC on deck, this task becomes that much more complicated. At the same time, one thing is abundantly clear: Texas has cornered the most important position in all of sports, and it isn’t done.

Is Texas back? Of course not. Just ask your favorite Kansas football fan.

The evidence, however, is beginning to mount. A blueprint is taking shape. Fire off the jokes while you can, because they might not work much longer.

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