Rivals.com - Five-star QB Arch Manning already bracing for junior year
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Five-star QB Arch Manning already bracing for junior year

NEW ORLEANS -- A state championship run on the basketball court and a newfound affinity for track and field have kept Arch Manning occupied this offseason.

You can also factor in the Zoom calls and FaceTime conversations with college coaches all around the country. Yet the nation's No. 3 overall player in the 2023 class can't even hide his anticipation for next football season.

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MORE: QB ARCH MANNING DIVES INTO RECRUITMENT, BUILDING EARLY RELATIONSHIPS

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The 6-foot-3, 200-pounder from New Orleans completed nearly 72-percent of his passes for more than 1,600 yards and 19 touchdowns last season. He also added another 229 yards rushing along with eight more scores on the ground as Newman advanced to the Louisiana Division III state semifinals.

In a CoVid-19-impacted offseason that inevitably carried into the fall, Newman head coach Nelson Stewart wasn't able to meet face-to-face with his second-year quarterback between March and June. In July, he saw Manning throw live ... twice.

Football season in the Boot began the first weekend of October with much less preparation than expected.

"I thought we expanded the offense from just running a spread look," Manning detailed to Rivals. "We ran the ball a lot more, a lot more (plays) under center ... I thought I was able to run the ball more and extend some plays.

"This year, I think we can incorporate both of those (looks ... This year, I want to get the ball in the end zone more, throw more touchdowns and put up a lot of points. It'll be a tough offense to prepare for and I'm just really excited."

Excitement about the Greenies' offense is through the roof Uptown. Manning will enter his third year as the starter and has an abundance of major college-level talent around him. Bo Bordelon will anchor Newman's offensive line for the second consecutive year and receivers Makai Donaldson, AJ Johnson and tight end Will Randle give Manning weapons on both the inside and outside with a diverse skill-set.

As the pandemic takes a turn for the better, Manning anticipates more time in the film room with his teammates and more time on the practice field to tie up loose ends. He's bracing for a leadership role in his third year as the starter he's been anxious to fulfill for some time.

"This year, it'll be a little different," Manning began. "Last year it was film before games and we couldn't really meet. This year, it'll be more different. I'll take more of a leadership role with film and sit down individually with AJ and guys like that to work through things. (Dartmouth sophomore) Jarmone (Sutherland) did that with me my freshman year, so I want to take that leadership role. I think it'll be beneficial for everyone on the team."

"I'm definitely excited," he added. "That's something I've been waiting on for a while. We've had good seniors every year, so it's been easy and they've been nice, but I'm excited to be one of the upperclassmen and be a leader."

Manning has kept his offseason focus on a few other sports. He not only helped Newman's basketball team advance to the state championship game earlier this month, but recently took up high-jumping for the track team. He placed third in his first meet on Friday night.

Spring football at Newman will begin in early May and the coaching staff expects way fewer limitations in place and perhaps a more normal offseason schedule. With more opportunities to grow and work as a team, there's even more anticipation about what the Greenies' offense will look like this fall with their five-star quarterback leading the way.

"We have to stay the course, take it a game at a time, prepare well and this year, with less restrictions, we can have more team meetings and film. I can't wait," Manning said. "CoVid happened for everyone, so it’s not an excuse, but less restrictions should be beneficial for our offense. I can’t wait to get out to practice and get in the film room with the boys."

That feeling is widely mutual.