Archie Manning talks about his grandson Arch Manning
High school sophomore Arch Manning has hit a growth spurt: 6-3, 200 pounds. By the minute, it seems, his ball release and footwork surges. He has a smooth arm, can maneuver in the pocket and…
“He’s one of the most athletic kids we’ve had back there,” said Nelson Stewart, Arch’s coach at Isidore Newman High, “if not the most athletic.”
Comparing young quarterback Arch to the guys who played the past 15 years for Stewart at the New Orleans high school — that’s fair game on his field.
What isn’t: comparing Arch to those uncles of his, Peyton and Eli.
“He’s his own entity,” said Stewart. “We tread lightly in terms of comparing Arch.”
The pressures of being Arch Manning are already intense. He certainly doesn’t need to hear “you throw like your uncle Peyton” your agility is like your uncle Eli” or “your grandpa Archie used to do it that way.”
On occasion, Arch will toss out his own thoughts about whom his football-playing style mirrors. “He kind of likes to compare himself to his grandfather,” Stewart said, “which I think is kind of cool.”
Outside of the Isidore Newman bubble, the chatter and comparisons about Arch began long ago and the intrigue surrounding him increases as each day passes.
He’s already garnered interest from major football programs — LSU, Alabama, Duke, Georgia, Ole Miss, Tennessee, North Carolina and Texas. 247 Sports ranks Arch the No. 5 overall recruit for the class of 2023 and No. 1 quarterback.
As Arch tries to live up to his football legacy, there is opportunity for downsides, said Dr. Steve Graef, a counseling and sport psychologist at Ohio State.
By definition, high performance comes with pressure and anxiety, said Graef, also owner of Mindurance, which offers sports psychology, medicine and counseling. But high school athletes are particularly prone to stress because they want to excel not only at the high school level, but are likely hoping to play college one day.
“Now throw on top of that a genetic relationship to arguably some of the best quarterbacks to play the game,” he said, “and you have the opportunity for a major pressure cooker. ”
Yet Arch, he seems to be taking it all in stride.
As a freshman last season, Arch was starting varsity quarterback at Isidore Newman. He had the ticket to strut if he wanted, maybe saunter onto the varsity bus.
Instead, Arch wanted to ride the freshman football bus. He stood in the back of the stretch lines.
“He is a very humble, laid back, unassuming young man. He’s very authentic,” said Stewart. “His work ethic is great. He is one of the guys.”
In his first varsity game, Arch completed 24 of 34 passes for 234 yards with three touchdowns and an interception for a 41-15 win. For the season, he threw for more than 2,400 yards and 34 touchdowns.
“He works his tail off,” said Stewart. “He’s also a student of the game. He likes to break things down. He likes to look at coverages, name plays, do concepts.”
More than anything else, though, Arch is a great teammate, which is credit to his family for helping him stay grounded, Stewart said.
That’s exactly what Arch should be focused on at this point in his football career, said John Hebert.
“I hope the young man really loves the game and is more concerned with connecting with his teammates than living up to the expectations,” said Hebert, Carmel High’s football coach.
Hebert has coached players whose dads played collegiately or in the NFL, usually former Colts players.
“Sometimes that pressure can be too much for a kid to live up to,” he said. “We’ve (also) had many that showed no negative signs of the perceived expectations that they excel.”
The player has to be allowed to chart his own course and not be held to the standard of his father or grandfather’s career — by the public or the family, Hebert said.
When it comes to the family, that’s not happening in Arch’s case, said Stewart. He should know. He played football with the Mannings at Isidore Newman.
‘A little of all of them’
Peyton Manning was a year older than Stewart at Isidore Newman and Eli Manning played with his younger brother. Stewart idolized Cooper Manning, the oldest of the Manning brothers and Arch’s dad.
“Cooper was my hero,” he said. “In a million years, I never would have dreamed (I’d be coaching his son).”
A son who would turn out to be amazingly talented.
For Archie Manning, it’s not a huge surprise. He told IndyStar last year that Cooper was, by far, the best athlete of his three sons. He played high school sports and could have played college, but was forced to quit after being diagnosed with a rare spinal condition at 18.
“(Cooper) kind of got cheated out of that,” said, Archie Manning. “Had to have big-time surgery and had to give it up.”
Arch, it seems, may best be compared to his dad and he has a lead on his uncles, Archie Manning said.
“He’s probably a little ahead of them as a freshman,” Manning said. Peyton and Eli played junior varsity as freshmen and started as sophomores.
As Arch’s sophomore season plays out, with the opener Oct. 9, more comparisons will surely be made.
The way Stewart sees it, when it comes right down to it, “Arch has got a little of all of them in him.”
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