Five thoughts on the 2023 quarterback class
High school seasons are about halfway done or more so this is a good time to take a look at some things happening across the country. Today, Rivals national recruiting director Adam Gorney gives five thoughts on the 2023 quarterbacks:
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MANNING SILENCING SOME CRITICS
Arch Manning now has more passing yards than his uncle Eli and more passing touchdowns than his other uncle Peyton at New Orleans (La.) Isidore Newman so the discussion about him only getting his ranking because of his last name is almost nonsensical at this point.
The No. 1 prospect in the 2023 class is also putting up numbers in his senior season (I’ll admit, his junior year stats were not phenomenal) without much help. His top target, fellow Texas commit TE Will Randle is injured, so Manning is making a lot of this happen himself.
On Friday night, Manning threw for 356 yards and seven touchdowns in a 52-22 win and from his sharp throwing motion to his underrated athleticism and his decision-making, not to mention his pedigree, I’m more than comfortable now with having Manning as the top-ranked prospect in the class.
No ranking is guaranteed but who has stepped up to take No. 1 from Manning?
ARNOLD MAKING THE CASE
There are already four five-star quarterbacks in the 2023 class with Manning, Oregon commit Dante Moore, Tennessee pledge Nico Iamaleava and USC commit Malachi Nelson leading the way but it’s becoming harder and harder to not have Jackson Arnold in the discussion.
That talk started after the Elite 11 where the Oklahoma commit looked outstanding especially early in the week as the ball just looked different coming off his hand and he threw it with such pop. Many of the top quarterbacks were there and Arnold was among the best.
Now this season he has his Denton (Texas) Guyer team undefeated and he has more than 1,200 passing yards with 15 touchdowns and one interception so far. Stats aren’t the end-all, be-all of recruiting rankings but Arnold has looked sharp, he’s made some high-level throws and
THREE-STARS MOVING UP
A long way to go in the rankings process for the 2023 quarterbacks but there are definitely some guys who are on the radar - based off seeing them more this summer and then following them early this season - for a bump in the rankings.
Pitt commit Kenny Minchey, Oklahoma State pledge Zane Flores, Texas Tech commit Jake Strong, Penn State pledge Jaxon Smolik and Ole Miss commit Marcel Reed have caught my eye the most. There will be movers both up and down but the never-say-die attitude of Flores is especially something to watch and Minchey is someone who could have arguably moved to four-star after his showing at the Elite 11 this summer but is making a case early this season as well.
BATTLE AT TOP OF DUAL-THREAT
If you ask me right now, I see this being a two-headed battle between Louisville commit Pierce Clarkson and Kansas State pledge Avery Johnson. Both are having terrific starts to their senior seasons and in some ways, the two couldn’t be different.
Clarkson plays at arguably the best high school program in the country at Bellflower (Calif.) St. John Bosco and in arguably the toughest high school football field in the country. Johnson is a high-level athlete from Maize, Kan., who is certainly not in the limelight of Southern California but still plays with flash, has legit athleticism (you see some of those basketball dunks?) and could end up being No. 1 among the dual-threat group.
Others can emerge as well - Missouri commit Gabarri Johnson is having a great season so that could be one - but this feels like a Clarkson vs. Johnson battle to the end.
WILL TEXAS A&M GET ONE?
Texas A&M has done a tremendous amount of work to land a quarterback in the 2023 class with nothing to show for it - yet.
Four-star Eli Holstein was committed but backed off that pledge and has since committed to Alabama. Over the summer, the Aggies made serious runs at Dante Moore, Jaden Rashada and especially Austin Novosad but the A&M legacy decided to stick with his Baylor commitment.
But maybe the most interesting storyline here is that the Aggies got five-star USC commit Malachi Nelson to visit this summer and while that chatter has died down during the season there are some who still believe there is significant interest there for numerous reasons.
We will see. It’s clear the Aggies have wanted a quarterback in this class. What’s unclear is whether a high school prospect will flip or if A&M will go to the portal.