Duke football recruiters could be legit contenders for Arch Manning

Duke football head coach David Cutcliffe and NFL legend Peyton Manning at a Duke basketball game (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
Duke football head coach David Cutcliffe and NFL legend Peyton Manning at a Duke basketball game (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images) /

A 15-year-old with a famous surname seems to be on the Duke football radar.

One relatively safe bet is the 2023 Duke football team’s competition at quarterback will pale in comparison to that at LSU, Georgia, Tennessee, and Ole Miss.

But that’s just one of a few reasons the Blue Devils may at least stay to the end in the battle for Isidore Newman School (La.) rising sophomore quarterback Arch Manning, the grandson to Archie, nephew to Peyton and Eli, and son of eldest brother Cooper (i.e., Arch shares genes with three men who combined for more than 150,000 passing yards and 1,000 touchdown passes in the NFL).

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Another reason David Cutcliffe and his staff should remain in the mix for the class of 2023 New Orleans native is that degrees from those four SEC universities — 247Sports currently lists them and Duke as the five “interests” for Arch Manning — would, quite frankly, pale in comparison to a degree from the private school in Durham. Granted, his dad joked in a recent radio interview on ESPN Baton Rouge that the 6-foot-3, 190-pound gunslinger isn’t exactly an academics nerd:

“We’re open to sending our kids wherever they want to go to school. I don’t think MIT is calling anytime soon. We raise them to do what they want to do. They make decisions, and we support them. That’s the way it works…Arch, he loves football…He’s kind of had a growth spurt here in the last couple months. Enjoying being in the weight room and throwing. He just loves it…”

As for education on the gridiron, one thing’s for sure: the Manning family has every reason to trust Cutcliffe’s football noggin.

First, the 65-year-old, who has effectively peeled the “joke” sticker from Duke football with a 72-79 record across 12 seasons, served as offensive coordinator at Tennessee while Peyton Manning was in Knoxville (1994-97). And then Cutcliffe was the Ole Miss head coach all four seasons Eli Manning was in Oxford (2000-03). As a result, one Manning or another has made trips to see him at his current job on numerous occasions.

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But back to the recruit himself. Arch Manning is the reigning MaxPreps National Freshman of the Year after starting every game under center for a 9-2 squad.

As a mere 14-year-old during the season, Manning completed 194 of 296 passes (65.5 percent) for 2,438 yards, per MaxPreps. Those numbers, not to mention his 34 touchdown passes to only six interceptions, are indicative of a future No. 1 recruit (major recruiting sites have not yet rated or ranked 2023 prospects).

What the proud grandpa has to say about the potential Duke football target

Stats and highlights aside, though, let’s look at Archie Manning’s assertion to the IndyStar last fall when comparing the past progressions of sons Peyton and Eli to that of his grandson. The two-time Heisman finalist, two-time Pro Bowl selection, and patriarch of arguably the all-time most famous football family gave an observation that ought to be reason enough for Duke, even if a long shot, to give everything it’s got in the race for Arch Manning:

“He’s probably a little ahead of them as a freshman.”

Simply put, if Arch Manning was to play for the oldest, wisest version of David Cutcliffe in a few years, then it would have the potential to go down as the greatest thing to ever happen to the historically oft-lowly Duke football program. OK, so it makes for a fun dream, anyway.

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