Arch Manning outlines his reasons for remaining a Texas Longhorn, even possibly as a backup

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Texas quarterback Arch Manning talks to reporters during media day for the the upcoming Sugar Bowl NCAA college football semi-final game in New Orleans, Saturday, Dec. 30, 2023. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

NEW ORLEANS – As Arch Manning took a seat on a bench near some fellow Texas reserves, he was enveloped by a swarm of media.

The gathering was noticeably larger than at any of the mini podiums reserved for prominent Longhorns starters on the Superdome field.

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The 19-year-old Manning, grandson of one former NFL quarterback and nephew of two Super Bowl-winning ones, then proceeded to explain why he envisions remaining at Texas — even if Quinn Ewers, the starting QB against Washington in Monday night's College Football Playoff semifinal at the Sugar Bowl, decides to come back next season.

“Obviously, there’s always rumors, especially nowadays, but I haven’t looked into transferring at all," Manning said Saturday. "I’m just focused on developing and helping this team any way I can and hopefully one day playing for the University of Texas, like I’ve always wanted to.”

Manning dismissed the notion that he could be lured away by big name-image-and-likeness money to another power program seeking a new starting QB. One of the reasons he chose to go to college in Austin, Texas, was his belief in the offensive mind of coach Steve Sarkisian.

“I don’t think it’s about money right now," Manning said. "I want to develop from Sark. I was told that good things happen to people who work hard and put their head down, and that’s what I’m focused on.”

Manning’s father, Cooper, said his son put a lot of effort and thought into deciding where to attend college, and many considerations had nothing to do with football.

“The way we approached it was: If you throw three interceptions and your girlfriend broke up with you, where do you still want to be,” Cooper Manning said. “We want him to enjoy going to class and mixing with his classmates and everything that goes into the college experience.”

Archie Manning said he can tell his grandson is happy at Texas.

“To me, that’s important for any college kid,” he said. “They deserve to be happy in college. He’s off to a good start.”

Arch Manning said being asked to pose for photos around campus was an adjustment. But he understood it comes with his family name and the hype surrounding his recruitment.

“Austin for me was a good spot just because I can kind of blend in a little bit more in a big city rather than Oxford (Mississippi) or Athens (Georgia) or Tuscaloosa (Alabama),” Manning said. "That’s a place I would want to go to college if I wasn’t playing football.

“I don’t know if I could get in,” he added with a self-effacing grin. "But that’s a place I would want to be.”

Ewers, whose plans for next year remain unknown, could be seen literally looking over his shoulder at the crowd around his fresh-faced backup. But that scene was much less a metaphor for Texas' QB situation than a reflection of some unique circumstances surrounding the Sugar Bowl.

New Orleans media gravitated to Manning to discuss him being back in his hometown, where he starred at Newman High School, and where his grandfather played so memorably for the Saints that his name hangs above the Superdome's expansive upper deck. The younger Manning spoke about taking some Texas teammates to his house in New Orleans' historic “Uptown” neighborhood, where his mother, Ellen, served chicken and sausage gumbo. He also recalled attending the Sugar Bowl nearly every year as a child with Archie Manning, whom he calls his role model, and who has spent decades as one of the bowl's official committee members.

Meanwhile, media from Austin, Texas, and around the country, finally got their first chance to speak with Manning since he joined the Longhorns. Saturday marked his first media interview of any kind since high school. Ewers, by contrast, had met with media the day before.

Ewers and Manning share hotel rooms on team road trips and appear to get along well.

“I guess we have to be buddies. We're roommates everywhere we go,” Ewers said. “He's awesome. He's cool to be around. Just like a humble guy. I can tell he really wants to be a good player.”

Manning speaks similarly about Ewers.

“Just a good dude. I like the way he attacks his preparation and carries himself, because he was a big-time recruit,” Manning said. "He’s been dialed this year. Y’all can see that on the field. It’s been fun to pick his brain.”

Manning said there are aspects good and bad that go with having a name made famous by his grandfather and uncles Peyton and Eli, who not only thrived in the NFL but have become familiar faces on TV commercials and as sports commentators.

“The bad thing is you’re kind of recognized a lot of places you go, and sometimes you just kind of want to be laid back and under cover," Manning said. "But there’s a lot of good to it. I get a lot of grade-A advice.”

Manning good-naturedly poked fun at the crowd of reporters he attracted.

“I don’t see y’all giving this much attention to other backups,” he said. “It’s definitely weird. I’ve never really played meaningful football in college."

Yet, he's just one play away if Ewers gets hurt.

“Hopefully doesn’t happen,” Manning said. “I’m fired up to watch, but I’ll be ready to play.”

Manning moved up the depth chart when previous second-stringer Maalik Murphy decided to transfer earlier this month. Murphy subsequently chose to attend Duke.

“I tried to prepare the whole time like I was the starter. That was the advice Peyton and Eli gave me before the season," Manning said. “At the end of the day, it’s just football, going out there and doing what I’ve done my whole life.”


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