Why didn’t Arch Manning transfer? QB explains decision to remain at Texas as backup to Quinn Ewers

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Consider Arch Manning an exception to the transfer free-for-all in college football.

The NCAA has changed its transfer rules drastically since the governing body first implemented its transfer portal in 2018.

Gone are the days when players had to sit out a season after transferring programs. Most athletes now have unlimited free movement and can transfer as much as they like during their playing days.

The result has created a landscape akin to free agency across college athletics. That has allowed players to capitalize on lucrative NIL deals and search for playing time if they aren’t getting enough of it at their current programs.

Many student-athletes have taken advantage of these opportunities. Still, some have taken the old-school approach and remained at their respective schools even when playing time isn’t yet available to them.

Manning is one of the most notable examples of those choosing to stay put. He is returning to Texas in 2024 even though Quinn Ewers — the 2023 Longhorns starter and potential early-round pick in the 2025 NFL Draft — is also back with the team.

Manning was the consensus No. 1 player in the 2023 recruiting class, so he easily could have transferred to a program willing to let him start. That has left many wondering exactly why Manning remained with the Longhorns as he looks to make a name for himself in the college ranks.

BENDER: Preseason top 25 rankings, bowl projections and more

Why didn’t Arch Manning transfer?

Manning explained his decision not to transfer while attending the 2024 Manning Passing Academy — an annual four-day camp for top quarterbacks, which is hosted by his father Cooper, uncles Peyton and Eli and grandfather Archie.

“It’s tough because you want to be out there playing with your boys,” Arch Manning told The Athletic. “But (it came down to) just realizing there’s nowhere else I want to be, and it was my dream to play at Texas. I’m going to stick it out and play there eventually.”

Manning’s patience is rare among superstars during the transfer portal era. It has impressed Ewers, who was once in a similar situation to Manning as a high-profile recruit stuck behind some other talented passers.

“I think his actions definitely go to show that the kid’s got some patience, for sure,” Ewers said of Manning. “I know it’s tough, because when I went to Ohio State, obviously it’s tough sitting behind somebody.”

That’s part of the reason Ewers transferred to Texas. He knew playing time would be available with the Longhorns, so he jumped at the chance to get it.

As such, Ewers, now a redshirt junior, would understand if Manning wanted to leave to get playing time. Still, he believes the redshirt freshman quarterback is on the right track as a part of Steve Sarkisian’s program.

“I think he understands that what he’s got here is he’s gonna be the most ready whenever he goes to the NFL,” Ewers said of Manning. “I think coach Sark (Steve Sarkisian) does the best job getting quarterbacks ready for the NFL and developing guys. (Manning will) be playing in his third year. He’ll be more than comfortable in operating the offense, and it’s just a really good fit for him.”

Texas may be “a really good fit” for Manning, but the team will still be hoping he doesn’t see the field much in 2024. The team made the College Football Playoff last season with Ewers at quarterback, so his proven ability as a starter and potential NFL prospect gives the Longhorns a high floor as they transition to the SEC.

BENDER: Georgia football signs 6-11 former hoops prospect Jahzare Johnson

Texas QB depth chart

Manning has still moved up on Texas’ QB depth chart. He was the team’s No. 3 quarterback at times last year behind Ewers and Maalik Murphy, but Murphy’s transfer to Duke allowed Manning to take firm control of the backup job.

Below is a look at Texas’ projected quarterback depth chart for 2024:

Rank Player
1 Quinn Ewers
2 Arch Manning
3 Trey Owens

Manning should be able to hang onto the backup job with relative ease. Owens is a true freshman, who comes to the program as a four-star recruit but seems unlikely to be ready for an important role right away.

That should position Manning as Texas’ No. 2 quarterback and put him in line to play if Ewers suffers any injuries.

Ewers missed two games last season with a shoulder injury, so Manning needs to stay ready as he continues to climb the ladder at Texas.

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