Friday Night Notes: Arch Manning, the end of Saban vs. Fisher, 5-star official visits, and more

USA TODAY High School Sports‘ Friday Night Notes is a weekly high school football recruiting recap that looks at the latest news from around the country—from the Class of 2022 to ’23 and beyond.

Like any good heavyweight bout, the fight just didn’t go as many rounds as some might have expected. 

Texas A&M’s Jimbo Fisher added a final scene to the saga created by Alabama’s head coach Nick Saban this past Wednesday, closing out a battle that looked destined to stretch into the summer and fall. 

“It’s over with,” Fisher stated. “We’re done talking about it. We’re moving on to try to fix the problems of what we have in college football. There are a lot more pressing needs than our arguments.”

The “problems” Fisher referred to are those currently floating in the still-unknown waters of the Name, Image and Likeness (NIL) processes that will undoubtedly shift how college recruiting is handled. And it’s the same “problems” that started this SEC kerfuffle, with Saban accusing the Aggies football program of monetary mischief — they “bought every player,” claimed the Crimson Tide’s top dog.

Of course, nothing is really over. Well, not over-over. So, let’s call this an intriguing chapter in the growing Book of NIL.

And as the recruiting rush for the top prospects in the class of 2023 escalates, it’ll be a storyline that certainly warrants revisiting. 

Speaking of…

Arch Manning continues to Arch Manning

(USA TODAY Network)

Arch! Arch! Arch! Wherever shall you land?

Few recruits in recent years have created such a significant amount of national buzz and excitement, with the Isidore Newman five-star quarterback’s every move documented and dissected.

The frenzy is validated, too, with Manning’s physical makeup (6-foot-4, 215 pounds) complementing his QB acumen and abilities (he’s a Manning!).

So, where does Arch end up?

Possible spots have included Texas and Alabama and other powers such as Florida and LSU.  But next on the docket is an official visit to Georgia this weekend, which is a heavy contender, bordering on favorite at this point.

According to reports from 247Sports, Manning’s first three trips to Athens—the most recent for spring practice—ended with high praise for the campus and the team atmosphere.

An 'eye-opening' visit to Florida ...

(Photo: Jackson Moore, 247Sports)

Which school will Jaden Rashada choose? The anticipation and guessing game for that answer—which will happen on June 18—took an interesting turn in May when the five-star QB visited the University of Florida.

The next standout play-caller in Gators football history?

The LSU Tigers and coach Brian Kelly might have something to say about that.

Ohio State welcomes a 5-star defensive end

Photo: Greg Biggins, 247Sports

St. John Bosco’s (Bellflower, Calif.) standout edge rusher Matayo Uiagalelei is headed to Columbus on an official visit in June, something to watch as the Buckeyes look to build on a top-five class of 2023 recruits.

As expected, other top programs are making a push to land the 6-foot-4, 255-pound talent, including USC, Oregon and Alabama.

When considering Ohio State’s national (TV) presence, facilities and the standout defensive ends to hit the pro levels in the past few years, it wouldn’t be surprising if Uiagalelei decides to call the Horseshoe home in 2023 and beyond.

Read more about Matayo Uiagalelei’s visit at Buckeyes Wire.


Doug Ute, left, Ohio High School Athletic Association executive director speaks during a press conference at the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton. (USA TODAY Network)

While the Buckeye State carries a long tradition of high school football powerhouses, which includes a Hall of Fame who’s who of athletes, it’s not ready to allow NIL deals.

The Ohio High School Athletic Association voted not to pass a proposal that would have allowed student-athletes to benefit from NIL. Out of the 813 schools that submitted a ballot, 583 sided with the “nay” option.

Ohio would have joined Alaska, California, Colorado, Kansas, Louisiana, Nebraska, New Jersey, New York, and Utah as the 10th state to allow NIL for high school athletes.

What’s the point?

One has to wonder how long it takes before parents of top-tier high school athletes in states like Ohio begin to ponder relocations to states where NIL deals are permitted, where the athletes can maximize on name, image and likeness profits with the understanding that holding off for the betterment of future plans is code for one thing — a gamble.

That seems like a possible “problem” too, hey Jimbo?

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