Wasserman: Eli Holstein’s commitment to Alabama is a big deal for the Longhorns

Wasserman: Eli Holstein’s commitment to Alabama is a big deal for the Longhorns

Four-star quarterback Eli Holstein of Zachary (La.) High made a commitment to Alabama on Tuesday afternoon.

What a day for the Longhorns.

That day, Texas took a step closer to securing the most influential prospect in recruiting history. This is the real story here.

In any other recruiting cycle, a top-100 quarterback signing in Alabama would be a footnote. An elite-level QB committing to play for Nick Saban? What’s new? Yawn. But this class is different. This class includes New Orleans Isidore Newman’s five-star Arch Manning, and every domino that impacts Manning’s ultimate destination ends up being big news.

Holstein is an excellent choice for Alabama. Some would say his high school band is more impressive than Manning’s. And if things go as planned — or as things usually go for stars who sign with Alabama — he’ll be the starting quarterback for a college football playoff team for the next four years. Maybe he’ll win a Heisman trophy. That’s not to diminish who Holstein is or what he brings to the table, but Alabama getting another high-profile commitment is completely normal. It does not move the needle.

Texas is the biggest winner because the Longhorns, more than any other program still alive in Manning’s draw, would benefit the most from landing the world quarterback. And now you’re telling Steve Sarkisian that Alabama is either out of the chase or backsliding? Talk about a major obstacle that has been removed.

Manning had planned to make official visits to Georgia, Texas and Alabama this summer. Don’t be shocked if he still goes to Tuscaloosa. This is, after all, Alabama. But Alabama’s decision to accept Holstein’s commitment sends the message that the Crimson Tide isn’t going to sit for anyone, even Manning. And with a quarterback as good as Holstein ready to step in? Well, that’s how the tide rolls in.

Almost every top program has an elite quarterback on their roster. Texas, in particular, has Quinn Ewers on campus, and not too long ago the Southlake, Texas native was ranked No. 1 overall for the Class of 2022 before being reclassified to 2021 and sign with Ohio State. He is now back in his home country and is considered the savior of the program by many Longhorns fans.

But Manning’s commitment is worth much more than his quality as a quarterback. He could make a statement that would send shockwaves through college football.

What would a commitment to Texas look like? Exactly what Texas needs to say – that the Longhorns are a viable destination for top players, especially on the offensive end of the ball. If Manning thinks this is the place for him, no one is too good for Texas.

Texas has been absolutely horrible when it comes to developing their top offensive rookies into NFL draft picks. The Longhorns haven’t had an offensive player selected in the first round of the draft since Vince Young in 2006. Think how terribly bad that is for a program that regularly signs high-level classes. Not even having the chance to become an offensive player as a first round player in over 15 years? That’s enough to make any rookie’s stomach turn.

Manning could look beyond that and inspire others to believe in Sarkisian. And while Manning doesn’t speak to the media often, he’s still an influential player who’s active in group texts with other high-profile prospects in the Class of 2023. Depending on when Manning commits, he’d be insane to think that others will not follow.

But we can’t get carried away — it’s not like Texas landed Manning on Tuesday. There are still more than six months until the early signing period begins, and in recruiting time, it may as well be an eternity. Plus, Georgia is the second-best recruiting team in college football, so to pretend the Bulldogs don’t present a major challenge to Texas wouldn’t be wise.

But what if Saban and Alabama are either out of the picture or fading away? This is an important checkpoint for Texas to pass. Now Sarkisian has to go out of the park during Manning’s next visit to Austin, and he has to sell the vision that Texas fans are so eager to believe – that it’s only a matter of time before Texas don’t come back.

People said Texas was back when Ewers was transferred to the program. And it’s still possible that Ewers will start for the Longhorns this fall and orchestrate a magical season.

But Manning is different. He is in the first family of football.

If Texas catches him? It makes Texas different.

The Longhorns took a step closer to that dream on Tuesday, even though it was Alabama simply doing what Alabama does.

(Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images)

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *