How about EJ??
Before he arrived in Austin this weekend, Arch Manning had likely been told by members of the Texas football staff how important he is to first-year coach Steve Sarkisian.
On Saturday, Manning felt what those words truly meant.
A funny thing happened while Manning visited the 40 Acres and eventually made his way over to the Disch...
The collective Texas Football universe lost its mind a smidge. Maybe not full on. Yet, definitely a smidge.
As photos of Manning visiting campus hit social media, it didn't take long before Archie's grandson was a trending topic in Austin. The tweet at the top of this story from the Rivals official Twitter account has received nearly five times the amount of likes and retweets as the second-most liked/retweeted from this month. I made a wise-crack about Manning showing up at the Texas Super Regional game being the biggest thirst-trap in Austin since Natalie Portman showed up at a Texas home game in 2012 dressed to be remembered.
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It was liked 300+ times. The video we did on Friday on the Orangebloods Youtube channel had more page views than any other video we've done in the last month in less than 48 hours.
This wasn't just an Orangebloods thing, either. Every piece of media with Manning's name on it took off like wildfire. By the time Texas headed to the ninth inning against Anwar Richardson's South Florida Bulls, every set of eyeballs inside the Disch had been on the youngest Manning at least once during the game. Maybe more like 100 times for some.
If Arch Manning didn't know exactly what it meant to be wanted by a success-starved football powerhouse coming into the weekend, he does now. No matter what happens from here and where he plays his college football, he'll remember this visit. For a teenager, it has to be a hell of a thing to be like you're a member of The Beatles in 1964.
Don't get me wrong. None of this is completely weird. Taking a star prospect in front of an adoring crowd is the stuff of many official visit legendary tales. Look no further than Vince Young's recruitment in 2002 when he went to the Erwin Center on his official visit. All these years later, the moment feels like it was the beginning of the VY story in Austin.
What made this so different is that Manning is just now entering his junior season... in a couple of months. In all of the years I've covered recruiting, I can't ever remember a similar situation. This kind of thing typically happens towards the end of a recruitment, not in the beginning. It will certainly help frame his recruitment moving forward.
Consider how different this visit for Manning would have been than the one he took to Clemson a week ago.
In talking with a Clemson insider on Sunday, I was told that very little fuss was made of Manning while he was in town last weekend on his first trip as a college football prospect. He worked out, received an "official" offer from the coaching staff, hung out at Dabo's house for some get-to-know-you time and did all of the usual things in checking out the campus and facilities.
There was not a public show. Local media didn't hang out all over campus hoping to get a photo-op of him standing on sidewalks or riding on golf carts. The public gawking was limited to a minimum.
"Clemson is low-key. It's where you go to fit in and be a college kid in relative anonymity," the Clemson source told me.
Considering the Longhorns and Tigers are probably the betting favorites at the beginning of Manning's recruitment (if nothing else, the two represent his first choices to visit this summer), the contrast in approaching Manning will be fascinating to watch moving forward.
Clemson wants Manning. Texas wants Manning.
Clemson needs Manning. Texas needs Manning.
It's a nuance that Texas will never have to explain to young Arch ever again.
Now he knows.
No. 2 - Half-way home?
In the aftermath of Nevada outside linebacker Anthony Jones' commitment, the reality that the Longhorns are in double-figures in commitments (10) has me wondering if Sarkisian is at or close to the half-way point with this class.
After all, in the new-age world of the Portal, how many scholarships should a team save? If Sarkisian had taken a couple more high school prospects in February, it almost certainly means that there's no Keilan Robinson on this year's team. Or maybe no Devin Richardson.
I'm not sure there's a magic number yet when it comes to how many places you save for transfers, but five doesn't sound like a crazy number and if it proved to be five, it would mean we're at the half-way point in the 2022 class.
Based on the players that haven't made decisions and the players we think they'll probably land, it would certainly appear like Texas coaches are planning for more than 20 high school commitments.
We're all learning on the fly right now on the best way to manage the Portal, so I don't really have an opinion about it right now. I'm just pointing out the consequences of the decisions that the staff makes 15 months out before the start of the 2022 season.
No. 3 - Weekend Visits Parting Shots...
... Arch Manning is a more physically impressive prospect at this stage of his development than Eli Manning was back in 1998. I can't speak to Peyton, but I interviewed Eli in person back in the day and I'm not sure he was more impressive physically as a senior than Arch is coming out of his sophomore season.
... It kind of feels like we need to be on commitment watch with Cole Hutson. That situation just smells like a UT commitment in the making.
... For a kid that is taking visits all over the place, Rueben Owens seems like he's more of a commitment that you'd guess, given the circumstances.
... No player in the state of Texas has shot into the stratosphere over the course of the last week quite like Arlington (Texas) Seguin defender Xavion Brice, who was offered by both Oklahoma and Texas, after starring at camps for both schools in a span of a few days. Suddenly, the KU commit is a hot commodity. It'll be interesting to see where his recruitment goes from here.
... If the Longhorns don't land Arlington Martin 2023 cornerback Javien Toviano, it will be a major disappointment. That kid profiled as a future Longhorn before this weekend's visit and when you see a kid sporting burnt orange head to toe OUTSIDE of the stadium, that's usually a good sign.
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... Others wearing the burnt orange outside of the photo ops involved with the visit were 2022 offensive linemen Cole Hutson and Jacob Sexton, along with 2023 standouts Anthony Hill, Johntay Cook, Peyton Bowen and Harris Sewell. What made Toviano a little different than the rest is that his gear, from the cap to the shirt, was different (and all burnt orange) than everyone else's.
No. 4 - It's official for me... he's a 5-star ...
The next time I update the LSR Top 100 for the Class of 2022, Frisco Liberty wide receiver Evan Stewart will be rated as a five-star. Hell, he might be the No.1 overall player. I'm not saying that he will be the No.1 player, I'm just saying that the thought of him as the No.1 prospect in the class from the state of Texas has at least crossed my mind.
Consider that he won MVP honors at the Under Armour's 2021 Future 50 event this weekend among a pool of the best prospects in the country.
This is what SI.com said about him:
"Out of all the talent to travel for the Future 50 event, none proved to be better than Frisco (Texas) wide receiver Evan Stewart. Making high point grabs on balls down the field, Stewart proved his worth as a deep threat with his blazing speed — paired with crisp footwork to beat defenders with an unpredictable mix of nine, post and corner routes — and admirable ability to attack the football while in the air.
Surpassing expectations going into the camp, Stewart was seen consistently making highlight-reel plays with excellent body control in both portions of the camp against the best prospects in the nation. His day culminated in leaping touchdown receptions in tight coverage over defensive back Khamauri Rogers and linebacker Shawn Murphy."
Every time I turn around, he's the best player or athlete or both somewhere. This weekend he was catching high point balls like he was a young Dez Bryant. I'm all-in. I'm an Evan Stewart truther.
No. 5 - TURN OUT THE LIGHTS!!!!
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I have to admit that I went through a phase when I was about 21 in 1997 when I was also a Teddy P fanatic. All these years later, I'd have to admit that "Turn Out The Lights" or "Love TKO" wasn't always the best mood setter with mixed company like I wanted it to be.
I will buy @Anwar Richardson lunch if he asks about Teddy P in a zoom call or whatever in the hell will be happening this season with Texas athletes and access with the media. I'm dying to know about his Teddy P fanaticism.
If, by chance, you are completely unfamiliar with Teddy Pendergrass, let me do the honor of introducing you to his music.
No. 6 - UT Baseball Super Regional thoughts...
Come back later tonight for a review once game two against South Florida is in the books.
No. 7 – BUY or SELL …
(Sell) We might one day look back and say that this was the weekend when some seeds for the turning point were put into the ground, but I think saying otherwise is just a little too much hyperbole.
(Sell) I'm not more confident. I'm probably on the fence. I think Texas is going to need to run the table on the biggest in-state prospects it is chasing and I'm not sure that's going to happen.
(Buy) Those numbers would make good over/unders because I went both ways a couple of times. I think it'll be very close to those, one way or another.
(Buy) This is not a time to slow down.
(Sell) Good question! Something tells me that Money might just have a quiet, sneaky good season as a third down and short yardage receiver. Let's say he finishes with 20 receptions on the season... that might just be enough to stay ahead of Robinson.
(Sell) I'm going to see some actual football games before anything other than a "let's wait and see" feels a little like pandering from my perspective. I'm not saying that it definitely is, just that it would feel that way from my perspective.
(Sell) Clemson is going to be a big factor in his recruitment and I think Alabama can never be discounted.
(Buy) I find it to be the single biggest move to change the sport. I think it's fantastic news for the Texas football program, as it has a chance to mitigate the idea that there are only three schools that you can play for to land on the sport's biggest stages.
(Buy) I think Texas hits either 9, 10 or 11, which would put the Longhorns very much in the top five range. It might come down to how many spots they hold for transfers.
(Sell) Ahem... Texas vs. Vanderbilt
(Buy) Texas won't be able to fake it with the 2023 kids. Those young men will want results.
(Buy) They won't be going backwards from here on out.
(Buy) I don't think it will be a huge thing, but when schools from smaller towns talk to kids from smaller areas of the state/country, they'll go to the ol' "Austin is too big of a city and will swallow up your son" card. That's a tried and true tactic against Texas. That incident won't help that.
(Sell) I don't know who the playmakers are yet.
No. 8 - Scattershooting on the sports weekend...
... Down goes Arkansas! Down goes Arkansas! Down goes Arkansas!
... Stanford beat Texas Tech this weekend like an SAT contest was taking place.
... LSU lost all five games against Tennessee this season, including both games this weekend. I'm pretty sure that LSU knows that it went about as far as it could go.
... Before the NBA playoffs end, the final team standing might just be the one that loses the fewest all-stars and key contributors. These dudes are dropping like flies.
... When PJ Tucker is 80 years old, he can show his great grandkids what he did to Kevin Durant on Sunday and feel proud that he got the better of the all-time Longhorn in a critical NBA playoff game.
... If the nets are going to win this series, Kevin Durant might have to do it himself.
... After getting caught heavy-footed and flat in game one, the Sixers have beaten the brakes off of the Hawks in the next two games and can put the entire series to bed on Monday night with another performance in game four like they delivered in games two and three. It feels like the Sixers have figured the Hawks out.
... Novak Djokovic isn't my favorite and I was not happy that he beat Rafa Nadal in the semis of the French Open, but there is no denying his greatness. Damn it, it pains me to say that. On the other hand, this was a great moment.
... It was only one game, but Italy looks like a very dangerous team in the Euros.
... Thank goodness everything appears to have turned out ok with Christian Eriksen on Saturday because I was really worried that all of Denmark and the world had witnessed a Hank Gathers situation. I thought the TV coverage didn't go to the studio quickly enough.
No. 9 - My Top 10 Harrison Ford movies ...
With the 40th anniversary of Raiders of the Lost Ark occurring this week, it felt like a great time to do this one.
I'm expecting disagreements.
10. The Mosquito Coast
9. American Graffiti
7. Clear and Present Danger
6. Working Girl
4. Blade Runner
3. The Fugitive
2. The Empire Strikes Back
1. Raiders of The Lost Ark
No. 10 - And Finally ...
If you missed it earlier in the week, Orangebloods renewed its vows with Rivals this week, less than two weeks after the site celebrated its 20th birthday inside of the network.
Despite the news last week of Dustin's departure, the financial health and stability of the site has never been stronger.
I choose to view this situation as an opportunity. It would be an impossible task to simply find another Dustin, so we'll likely look to hire two or three writers in the coming months to help support our coverage in all areas. We were already in the midst of planning for an additional staff writer, so this recent news means that I'm on a nation-wide hunt for talent that will ensure that we have the best team possible.