It’s been 13 years since the Longhorns’ appearance in the 2009 National Championship under Mack Brown. Texas has been back multiple times in that span. They were back when Charlie Strong took over, but he failed to have a season over .500. They were also back when Tom Herman took over. And…They were back last year when Steve Sarkisian took over. This time, it might be true.
The commitment of Arch Manning changes the game. In Manning fashion, Arch tweeted from his account today to announce his commitment – his first tweet ever. The most sought-after recruit in the modern era, Manning has brought Texas the attention they’ve craved. Manning is what the Longhorns needed. Texas added Quinn Ewers, the prodigal son, earlier this offseason. Like Manning, Ewers was the number one player in the country with a perfect rating. And when he joined, it was exciting for Texas, but this feels bigger.
Manning is a very good player in his own right. The last name might fool some, but he’s worthy of being a five-star quarterback. The most athletic of the Manning family, he also can do things his uncles couldn’t. He’s not a finished product, and he might not even be the best quarterback on the roster next season, but none of that matters right now because signing Manning is different. The name, the legacy, the adoration from the media – it’s all there, and now the spotlight is on the Longhorns. The football world is eagerly waiting to see what unfolds over the next few seasons in Texas.
We’re Just a Couple of Oil Men in From Dallas – Crootin’ The Big Boys
Arch Manning is just another, albeit big, step forward, and Texas has always had incredible resources, alumni, and passion, but with the changing landscape of Name, Image, and Likeness, they can flex really some muscle. Texas had its third-best class in over a decade in 2022 with some surprising late commitments. They signed the country’s best offensive lineman class with three top-90 linemen, highlighted by Devon Campbell, the nation’s top guard. This doesn’t include their spectacular transfer class, which included Quinn Ewers, Isaiah Neyor, Jahleel Billingsley, and Agiye Hall. The job the Longhorns have done in adding players under Sarkisian has been phenomenal.
Expect this trend only to continue. Since 2013, the Longhorns have ranked outside the top 8 in 247’s recruiting class rankings seven times, something we probably won’t see again in the NIL era. When you have oil money like Texas, NIL deals get done, and classes become stronger. There’s a reason that Texas A&M had their best class ever, and it’s not just because Jimbo can recruit.
All this goes to show a few things. The foundation is being set for a successful climb to the top for Texas. Fortifying the offensive line was a need heading into the offseason. One of the worst position groups on the Longhorns roster becomes a strength with their strong recruiting class, and building from the trenches out should help the entire offense. The team needs to support a strong rushing game spearheaded by Bijan Robinson, but they also need to be able to protect the quarterback. Inconsistent offensive line play has held back Texas for years. In fact, since 2008, they have had only three linemen selected in the NFL draft. In that same period, rival Oklahoma has had 14 drafted, including seven since 2018. It simply hasn’t been good enough, but it appears to be changing. Also, a $50,000 deal for each lineman helps. Again, another W for team “Texas Is Back.”
The Quarterback Position: Looking to 2023 and Beyond
This season may be the start of a turnaround in Austin, but the real impact years start in 2023. Their excellent recruiting class will be entering their second season, Arch Manning will be on campus, and the offensive system will be gearing up for year three. This season much of the same cast returns, and the problems that plagued the team last year will still be there.
Also, in 2023, Quinn Ewers will be entering his second year of starting for the Longhorns. The excitement and name brand Arch Manning brings to Texas shouldn’t make it a foregone conclusion that Manning starts immediately. He is a quality player. But so was Quinn Ewers. Both were the top player in their respective classes, but Ewers, by Campus2Canton’s evaluation, was a better overall prospect. The talent evaluators for the site view Arch Manning as a top quarterback but potentially behind USC commit Malachi Nelson and uncommitted recruit Dante Moore. Either way, a four-year stretch of two 1.000 overall quarterbacks is unheard of, setting Texas up for one of the best quarterback situations in the nation for the foreseeable future.
This probably means the end of Hudson Card’s time in Texas. Assuming Ewers wins the job in the fall, Card is a likely transfer candidate sandwiched between two elite prospects. A one-time high four-star recruit, Card will start somewhere in the 2023 season, but that place isn’t going to be Texas.
The same is probably true for incoming freshman Maalik Murphy. A raw prospect, Murphy needed at least a year to sit as is, making him a potential starter in 2024 before the Manning news. Now, the expectation is he’ll likely transfer out, and as the QB12 in his class, he’ll have suitors. He has some skill, and with refinement, he could be a legitimate high-upside starter.
Evaluating Skill Position Personnel
At running back, the most likely outcome is Bijan Robinson declares for the draft at the end of the season, but true freshman Jaydon Blue, C2C’s RB2 in the 2022 recruiting class, should step into a full-time role. Blue is a favorite among our staff. Austin’s writeup on Blue in the 2022 Freshman and Supplemental Draft Guide is nothing but glowing:
“Beyond his athletic prowess, Blue fits the mold of the perfect RB prospect. He has the best vision in the class and is an extremely natural runner…He is also an excellent pass-catcher and can be a weapon here for teams. Blue has the potential to be a 1,000/1,000 guy in the NFL…”C2C Co-Founder Austin Nace‘s writeup for the Freshman guide.
“Beyond his athletic prowess, Blue fits the mold of the perfect RB prospect. He has the best vision in the class and is an extremely natural runner…He is also an excellent pass-catcher and can be a weapon here for teams. Blue has the potential to be a 1,000/1,000 guy in the NFL…” - C2C Co-Founder Austin Nace
Additionally, in last year’s class, they added 247’s RB24 in Jonathan Brooks, another four-star running back who should provide quality depth. This position should be set despite losing Robinson.
The addition of Arch to next year’s signing class will bring high-end offensive talent, and Manning could be Texas’ best recruiter in securing some of the best receivers for this offense. While money talks, the opportunity to come to play with a Manning might be too much to pass up. Texas has already secured WR12 Ryan Niblett out of Houston, seems to be leading for five-star Johntay Cook, and has another target in athletic WR11 Jalen Hale.
A quality group of receivers next year will join rising sophomore Xavier Worthy, athletic tight end Ja’Tavion Sanders and incoming freshman Brenen Thompson. Worthy, a superstar in his own right, will be in his third year and, if he continues to develop, have a legitimate chance at being the nation’s leading receiver. As a true freshman, he secured 36% receiving yardage market share, an elite mark. Overall, this group should produce with both Ewers and Manning at the helm.
Landing the Arch Manning commitment sets Texas on a new trajectory. It’s another feather in the cap of a Longhorn team that has been up and coming over the last year, but with Manning on board, there’s real excitement in Austin. Texas is back – at least the most “back” they can be without winning on the field. Big names, media frenzy, and a commitment to building inside out? This is a good Texas team, and it’s time to be excited.