Headlining Clemson’s recruiting visitor list for the Florida State game last weekend was, of course, the nation’s top-ranked prospect regardless of position in the class of 2023 – New Orleans (La.) Isidore Newman five-star Arch Manning, the son of Cooper Manning, grandson of former Ole Miss and Saints quarterback Archie Manning and nephew of NFL greats Peyton and Eli Manning.
The high school quarterback prodigy made the trip to campus with his parents, and the family had a great time. Like their previous visit to Clemson for the Dabo Swinney Camp in June, they came away impressed by the culture, and this time, they were able to experience the game-day environment.
“I think he had a great trip. His family said it was great,” Arch’s head coach at Isidore Newman, Nelson Stewart, said to The Clemson Insider. “The thing he has conveyed to me over and over was just how nice everyone in the community was. Even from the staff to the fans, everyone was so friendly and welcoming, and it’s just a great environment. They have a great culture. I think for it being late in the season right before playoffs, he’s obviously really dialed in on what we’re doing. I think it’s a big credit to Coach Streeter (quarterbacks coach Brandon Streeter) and Coach Swinney that he was able to still go up there and get that done, and I was obviously really happy he did that. It was a great trip. I think overall he loved the environment. They had a big win against (FSU head coach) Mike Norvell and those guys, and I think he had a really great trip.”
Added Stewart: “Mom said ‘great trip, loved it.’ I think they’ve said it throughout – it’s a great college town. Going back to the summer, I think it’s been really consistent. They have great culture in everything that they do. Like I said, they’re really welcoming. Death Valley is awesome. We’re down here in SEC Country. While it’s a different conference, obviously it’s still real competitive, real loud, and I think they just had a great experience. They really enjoyed it. He has not had a bad trip yet. Whether it’s Georgia or Texas or Ole Miss, Alabama, Clemson – he’s loved all of them, he’s loved the game-day experience, and for me, that reaffirms that he’s on the right track and going to see the right places. So, he’s loved it.”
As Stewart mentioned, Arch has also made visits to Alabama, Georgia, Ole Miss and Texas for games this season. Clemson marked his final recruiting trip of the season as he wants to focus fully on his team with Isidore Newman set for playoff action soon.
“We’re going in the playoffs next week. I know he’s really dialed in to that and practices,” Stewart said. “So, I think he’s done his trips, and hopefully we’ll be able to play into December. That’s the state championship. Maybe take a few weeks, catch his breath, and maybe in the spring he may pop back in. I know he’s real thorough and wants his visits. I don’t think he has that scheduled yet, but it wouldn’t surprise me if maybe he made one more round. But he’s not in a rush on anything. I think with him, it’s still in the earlier stages of getting to know schools and programs, and he’s just incredibly thoughtful and thorough in everything that he’s doing. So, he’s handled it well. But I think that’s a wrap. That’s the last one he had planned.”
What was the message from Swinney and Clemson’s staff to Arch while he was on campus this past weekend?
“It’s always been consistent. They think he’s a great fit there,” Stewart said. “They told me he made a great impression. They just love how he is as a person. He’s such a good kid. He works hard. Culture’s really important to him. Just like they’ve always been, just super friendly. I think they’re very appreciative that he made the trip. I think they were able to see him before the game and after the game. And just like when he was at Coach Swinney’s house this summer, just a real great environment. There’s a reason he only went to a handful of schools, and Clemson was one of them. I think it’s a credit to them that he made that trip so late in the year. So, I think it was great.”
Arch has had a strong junior season, having completed around 70 percent of his passes and thrown for more than 1,500 yards and 22 touchdowns with only three interceptions while leading Isidore Newman to a 5-2 record entering its final game of the regular season tonight against South Plaquemines (Buras, La.).
The 6-foot-4, 220-pounder was perfect in Isidore Newman’s win over Cohen (New Orleans) last Friday, when he went 9-of-9 passing for 153 yards and five touchdowns. A week earlier against Berkeley Prep (Tampa, Fla.), he drew attention for a highlight-reel 68-yard touchdown run in a nationally televised game on ESPNU.
“I think he’s really progressed his entire game this season,” Stewart said. “He’s run the football really well when we’ve needed him to. I think that’s something that doesn’t get talked about a lot, but everybody saw in the ESPN game, that power read. But he runs the ball really well. I think he’s been very good in terms of his ball distribution. … And I think he’s just really spinning it. He’s really comfortable in the pocket. He’s been able to push it downfield. We’re going as fast as we’ve ever gone. From a tempo standpoint, I think he’s really comfortable in that mold because he’s got a pretty good master of what we’re doing.
“So, he’s just hanging in there and throwing it around, and he’s just gotten exponentially better each and every week. I think he’ll only get better. He’s so much bigger physically. He’s 6-4, 220. He’s got that big arm. But his feet, he’s really getting comfortable in that pocket. You can sprint him out if you need to, and he’s relaxed. I think that he’s really become a junior. He’s a 16-, 17-year-old kid that has done this for a while now. So, he’s awful fun to coach.”
ARCH MANNING TO THE HOUSE 💥 pic.twitter.com/Q6FAyThtRm
— ESPN (@espn) October 23, 2021
Stewart didn’t rule out the possibility of Arch pulling the trigger on a commitment in the spring but doesn’t believe he has a timetable for his college decision.
“I think hey, if it’s the spring and he and his family are in a good spot and he wants to (make a decision), I think hey, great,” Stewart said. “But I don’t think there’s a timetable. I think he’s just trying to enjoy being a junior and balance this out, which he’s done incredibly well. Hey, if it’s this spring, yeah. But if he needs some more time, I think he’ll take it. So, I just think he’s in a great spot.”
According to Stewart, the Tigers certainly helped their chances with Arch by getting him back on campus for a visit that allowed him to witness the victory over Florida State at Death Valley.
“They only helped themselves,” he said. “I think that everything has been kind of a reaffirmation of the things you like about the school. Clemson throughout has been, one, the culture. You may hear about that – I think it’s evident in their players and their staff and the staff solidarity with Coach Elliott (offensive coordinator Tony Elliott) and Coach Streeter. Those guys have been there year in, year out. When you go visit a campus, you want to see where the program is, and also I think it says a lot how they’ve responded to adversity.
“This is a team that has won so many games year in, year out. But they get out, they have a great win against an up-and-coming Florida State team and Mike Norvell, who I think the world of. I think that says a lot they were able to pull that out, battle adversity. You could tell they are where they are for a reason, and I think you learn as much in the harder times. So, I think they definitely helped their cause. And you add in the game-day atmosphere … One thing about Arch is he sees the big picture. It’s not just going to be a microcosm of only a few games. So, Clemson is a program, and it’s not just one season. So, I think that they’ve done a great job.”
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