Arch Manning not rushing on journey to college football stardom

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Arch Manning
(Photo: Parker Waters)

Very few in high school sports currently have a spotlight on them as big as Arch Manning.

Very few in high school sports have seen as much attention. Very few in high school sports have his incredible football lineage.

Arch Manning is, of course, the grandson of legendary quarterback Archie Manning and nephew of Super Bowl champion quarterbacks Peyton and Eli Manning. With the Isidore Newman standout heading into his last season of high school football, every big-time college football program is competing for a chance of gaining his services.

Arch has no shortage of avenues for advice when it comes to the college recruiting process with all his seasoned relatives. Arch’s father Cooper was also recruited to play college football and ultimately landed at his father’s alma mater as a wide receiver for the Ole Miss Rebels.

However, recruiting does not even resemble how it used to look back when Peyton and Eli were at the top of every school’s list.

I had the opportunity to find out Cooper’s perspective on Arch’s recruiting journey.

“It doesn’t even feel the same, recruiting then and recruiting now are completely different,” explained Cooper Manning, who went on to detail the process when the schools that were interested would send out a questionnaire on which he would fill out his basic physical attributes, like height and weight. Additional information such as his forty-yard dash time, where his parents attended college and what subjects he wanted to study was also requested.

“And it happened later. You might get letters maybe your junior year, maybe the tail end of your sophomore year… and you took all your visits the Spring of your junior year, you rode around and saw a few places. And then you’d take a couple of official visits your senior year… And there was a lot less publicity on it.”

Social media has completely changed the landscape and the scale of college sports, recruiting especially. Arch has seen his name pop up regularly on major sports media outlets like Sports Illustrated, Bleacher Report and ESPN going back to his middle school years. Despite all of the attention, Arch has appeared to not let the pressure affect his attitude or ability to have fun while visiting universities, and his father has noticed that as well.

“I think Arch has been really lucky to enjoy the whole process, got to make a lot of lifelong friends and contacts, and you kind of start to figure out where you will fit in the best.”

People have been impressed with all of the highlights that Arch has produced over his prep years and his obvious physical gifts. However, one of the most impressive attributes is his humble approach to football and life.

“He doesn’t particularly enjoy the spotlight on him, I think he prefers to deflect and give his teammates, coaches, and friends more of the accolades,” Cooper noted. “He’s not very active on social media at all. He’s tried to keep things pretty normal, but that’s difficult to do when you’re getting as much attention as he is getting.”

Behind the scenes, Arch has the unique advantage of being able to seek counsel from three former NFL quarterbacks. His uncles were both highly-coveted recruits during their high school playing years as well, a fact which means Arch can seek direct advice on the matter. Naturally, grandpa Archie has a lifetime of wisdom and a long list of connections throughout the sports industry for Arch to tap into for advice.

“Peyton and Eli, Arch has his own relationship with them, so he’ll lean on them for things to look for, questions to ask… they’re really helpful.”

Cooper also said that the family has been very active in trying to connect Arch with different coaches who could offer additional help through this process.

Archie has always told his grandson to focus, to just try and get better every single day on and off the field. He also emphasizes not stressing over things that are out of his control, and not looking too far down the road.

“No sense in trying to figure anything out before it’s time to figure it out,” was the way Cooper said his father phrased it. Archie wants Arch, above all else, to enjoy the present because high school and college are exciting times in a young man’s life.

“He says that, first of all, football is supposed to be fun and so is high school,” Cooper recalled. “Don’t be in a hurry to try and get somewhere that you aren’t. You’re not going to get better by just showing up for practices and lifts… you got to do the extra things when no one is looking.”

Cooper went on to say that they regularly talk about Arch’s future at the dinner table and keep everything out in the open within the family. Arch’s recruitment has become a family experience over the last few years. Arch’s brother Heid has also been able to experience these college trips with him, and his mother Ellen has enjoyed meeting the coaches and their wives during the process.

One gesture that garnered a lot of coverage occurred during a Georgia football game. Students in the front row of the stands turned around in unison to reveal that they had painted “WE WANT ARCH” on their backs. It caught major media attention and reminded the Manning family of how significant the spotlight on Arch really is.

“When you see things like that you obviously get a sense of how important football is in the south… I’ve been really proud of Arch for keeping a level head, and I don’t think he’s getting caught up in the hoopla,” said Cooper.

Speaking to Arch to get his unique perspective on what life is like as the top recruit in the nation, we learned that his weekends have been busy. He recently went to Athens to visit the University of Georgia, followed by Austin to visit Texas. Arch will be in Tuscaloosa soon to visit Alabama.

“The process has been good… I’m fired up to see some practices to see what these teams are all about,” Arch said.

These trips have not all been strictly about business and football. Arch said he’s had a lot of fun exploring these college towns, many for the first time. That is not to say that he has not focused on the business side of his visits as well.

“I’ve really enjoyed visiting some college towns that I’ve never been to and building relationships with the coaches and players has been awesome,” beamed Arch.

Known for being a very decisive passer with a lighting quick release that allows him to get the ball out before the pass rush can get to him, Manning says that quickness of making decisions on the field doesn’t necessarily translate into this process. He is in no rush to get to college and enjoying his time at Newman.

“I’m actually really enjoying high school right now,” stressed the young Manning. “Second-semester junior year has been really fun. I’m not looking forward to it ending anytime soon.”

Arch Manning
(Photo: Parker Waters)

His experience as an upperclassman means Arch knows the whole high school now, and that he feels like the students have formed a very close-knit group.

The Greenies look to make another deep playoff run this fall, and Manning is focusing more on football during the offseason.

“This year I didn’t do a spring sport, so I’m just lifting and throwing, running with the guys. I’ve also been communicating with a bunch of different coaches over zooms just going over the offenses.”

Arch talked about the characteristics that he looks for when analyzing a college program. People and relationships matter.

“I want to go into a group with a really good chemistry, where the coaches and players get along. You want to be surrounded by good players, but also good people and that’s what I’m looking for – to be around good people for four years.”

Not many high school football programs receive the amount of media attention that Newman has in the last couple of years. The Greenies have played in nationally televised games on ESPN, which is no small deal for any high school program. Arch was not incredibly fond of it.

“I didn’t really like it, to be honest. It didn’t really seem any different. I guess it’s cool for Newman… it was definitely a cool experience, but I wouldn’t say I like it more than a regular game.”

As he has seen more media attention over the last few years, Arch says normalcy at home has remained in tact.

“It’s been more laid back than people think. As you get into other states and cities, there’s definitely more attention, but here in New Orleans and at Newman, it’s just the normal high school scene.”

It’s also normal for Arch to lean on football legends, but it’s just family support despite the fame of his uncles.

“Peyton and Eli have been great because they have been through every level of football there is, and they know a lot of people. They are two great people to get advice from, and I am very fortunate to have them as uncles.”

Now for the big question. Where will Arch Manning play college ball? Fans and coaches will have to wait for a commitment announcement from the star quarterback until August, at least.

“I’m thinking at the earliest before the season and if not, during or right after the season. I don’t have a date set; I have no idea right now.”

It seems that Arch is in no hurry and is not worrying about what lies ahead. Instead, just being a teenager seems to suit him just fine for now.

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