Arch Manning emerged as an elite quarterback prospect very early in his high school career. In fact, the 6-foot-3 1/2, 200-pounder secured the starting job as a freshman for Isidore Newman High School in New Orleans, the same program for which his father Cooper and uncles Peyton and Eli played their high school ball.
In the last two seasons, Manning has thrown for more than 4,300 yards and posted a 55-13 touchdown-to-interception ratio, while completing 66.0 percent of his pass attempts. In that span, Manning — ranked No. 3 overall and No. 1 among 2023 quarterbacks on the industry-generated 247Sports Composite — has led Isidore Newman to an 18-3 record, including a Louisiana Division III state semifinal berth in 2020.
How does that compare to some other recent elite quarterback prospects? Taking a look at players such as Trevor Lawrence, Spencer Rattler, Bryce Young, and D.J. Uiagalelei, Manning starting from his freshman season on falls in line with Lawrence, Rattler, and Young.
That trio — ranked as the No. 1 quarterbacks in the 2018, 2019, and 2020 classes, respectively — started as freshmen en route to monstrous production over their four-year high school careers.
Entering his junior year at Cartersville (Ga.) High School, Lawrence had already thrown for 6,700-plus yards in his first two seasons, accompanied by a 69-11 TD-INT ratio and a 62.3 completion percentage. Lawrence — ranked in the Top247 no lower than No. 2 overall at any point — led Cartersville to a 27-2 record in those two seasons (2014-15) with a Georgia AAAA state semifinal appearance his freshman campaign, followed by a 15-0 state title run as a sophomore.
“He already had everything,” said Greg Biggins, 247Sports national analyst. “The prototypical size, the arm, the mobility, he was a winner, a leader, the production was there. After his sophomore year he was already being considered a generational guy.”
Rattler threw for 5,200-plus yards with a 48-19 TD-INT ratio (59.5 completion percentage) in his freshman and sophomore years (2015-16) at Phoenix Pinnacle, which went 11-12 with a pair of Arizona Division I first-round playoff berths in those seasons. Rattler debuted at No. 22 in his class’ initial top 100 and spent a lot of time ranked anywhere between the 50 range and just outside the top 100 before finishing his career at No. 9 overall in the Top247.
While Young started all four years of his prep career, he did so at two different high schools.
“He played his first two years at (Los Angeles) Cathedral, a little lower level of football, and he was 5-foot-10,” Biggins said. “So he was kind of dinged as a recruit early on even though he was an unbelievable football player. At that time (Young’s freshman season was 2016), this was before Kyler (Murray) and Baker (Mayfield) went No. 1, so he was ranked pretty high, but he was not as high as some of these other guys because of his size.”
Nevertheless, Young excelled at Cathedral, where he threw for almost 4,900 yards with a 55-9 TD-INT ratio on a 68.3 completion percentage. He led Cathedral to a 21-3 record and a pair of second-round playoff berths in 2016-17. That set the stage for his ascension to five-star status — and No. 1 overall ranking in the 2020 Top247 — by the end of his high school days.
“So (Young) made the decision to transfer into (California powerhouse) Mater Dei before his junior year,” Biggins said. “He wanted to play a bigger stage and get developed and he wanted to show people he could play a higher level of competition. … Bryce is probably the most gifted kid I’ve ever seen out of California.”
Of the five aforementioned quarterbacks, only Uiagalelei did not start his freshman season. He took over during his sophomore year at Bellflower (Calif.) St. John Bosco, another California power, because of injury to Re-al Mitchell.
“Basically, (Uiagalelei) started the second half of the year and just really lit it up. So going into his junior year, I’m pretty sure he was our No. 1 quarterback,” Biggins said. “Size, huge arm strength, better athlete than people gave him credit. At that time a lot of people still thought he was a better baseball prospect.”
Uiagalelei, who finished the 2020 cycle ranked No. 2 overall in the Top247 behind only Young, started the final eight games of St. John Bosco’s 2017 season. He finished his sophomore year with 2,905 passing yards and a sterling 31-2 TD-INT ratio on a 68.1 completion percentage. He led St. John Bosco to the Division I championship game of the CIF Southern Section.
With all of that context, what similarities does Manning share with these former high-end QB prospects? Looking at the production, the completion percentage stands out, and that accuracy certainly shows on tape and in live action.
Physically, Manning is not quite as tall as Lawrence, but he’s tall, nonetheless, and more similarly built to Lawrence than any of the others. Manning owns plenty of frame space to add mass in the coming years.
Manning has displayed an encouraging consistency in his ability to hit targets while on the run. This is a trait that all of these predecessors showed regularly in their high school careers, and an attribute that is obviously of high value in today’s game.
Young was particularly good at making plays on the move, and Manning has shown he can repeatedly hit receivers in those situations, including frequent across-the-body throws. Young and Manning also share the closest freshman-sophomore statistical profile in regards to passing yards, TD-INT ratio, completion percentage, and win-loss record.
Everyone mentioned here boasted arm strength coming out of high school. However, of the quintet, Uiagalelei possessed uncanny power and velocity.
“It was a 10 out of 10,” Biggins said of Uiagalelei’s arm strength.
As far as his contemporaries in the 2023 class, one trait that separates Manning is his advanced feel for the game. He has a sixth sense when it comes to pocket presence and detecting pressure. His one-of-a-kind quarterback pedigree likely influences that.
So, using these four previous elite QB prospects as indicators, getting as many reps as possible, producing massive numbers, and winning games will put Manning on track to join that group. That sounds obvious, and it’s easier said than done, but he owns the physical tools, the pedigree, and the intangibles to eventually become the latest first-round pick in the Manning QB dynasty.