Ok, cool.

If I’m Arch Manning, that’s how I would’ve reacted to the news that 4-star quarterback Eli Holstein is verbally committed to Alabama. Based on Holstein’s commitment last week, it seems the public had a different reaction to Manning’s future college choice.

“Ok, cool. Hook ’em.”

As in, Texas is now alone with Georgia in the driver’s seat of his recruitment and that the Tide were no longer a factor. After all, who would ever sign multiple blue-chip quarterbacks in the same class?

(Uh, Alabama. And Texas. And Ohio State.)

But if Manning sees the bigger picture — all signs suggest he does — then Alabama is by no means eliminated from the race. At least not in this new era of college athletics.

The transfer portal and NIL are just partially why it’d be silly to make a college decision based on whether a team signs 1 or 2 quarterbacks in a class. Let me explain.

There’s never been less risk with picking a college as a highly touted recruit.

Once upon a time, picking a college choice essentially locked you into that school for 3 years. As of last year, undergraduates no longer need to sit out a year per NCAA rules. You don’t even have to tiptoe around the NCAA rules and wait on a waiver, which was essentially like waiting on the world to change.

Once upon a time, transfers didn’t cause bidding wars for their services. At least not publicly. As of last year, NIL is a thing and it’s a thing that undergraduate transfers like Jordan Addison and Quinn Ewers have reportedly taken advantage of.

Why bring that up? Why would Manning make a choice based on having flexibility to transfer?

It mitigates the risk. If Alabama checks every single box that he wants, except it already has another quarterback committed from his class, that’s no longer a reason not to attend a specific program. You can leave after 1 year and be an immediate starter elsewhere in Year 2, as long as you enter the portal before the May 1 deadline. And in some ways, as many have witnessed, there could be more value in being in a transfer.

Obviously, no recruit wants to transfer after a year on campus. That’s not the point. The point is that it’s never been easier — or more lucrative — to escape a logjam at quarterback.

If Manning is trying to enter a quarterback room with the most favorable path to a starting job and he’s the No. 1 overall recruit in the 2023 class, why would Holstein’s commitment be a potential roadblock? In any scenario in which Manning starts in Year 1 or Year 2, he’s beating out multiple blue-chip quarterback recruits.

In the 2019 class, Alabama signed 2 blue-chip quarterback recruits in what was billed to be the ultimate legacy battle. Four-star quarterback recruit Taulia Tagovailoa (younger brother of Tua) gave his verbal commitment to Alabama a few weeks after fellow four-star recruit Paul Tyson (great-grandson of Paul “Bear” Bryant) did. Shoot, they were from the same state and they both stayed committed.

Of course, both left the program before they ever started a game. Things change in a hurry, especially with 5-star quarterbacks. Of the 16 quarterbacks rated as 5-stars from 2014-20, 10 of them transferred at least once. The odds suggest it’s more likely that Manning transfers than not.

But obviously, he’s not approaching his college decision with any intentions of transferring. He’s approaching it knowing he’ll have to beat out and fend off multiple blue-chip quarterbacks no matter what he’s told in the recruiting process.

That’s the only caveat in this whole thing. If Alabama stops recruiting Manning after Holstein’s commitment, that’s a totally different story. Why Alabama would stop recruiting the No. 1 overall player, regardless of position, I couldn’t tell you. That seems preposterous.

But barring new information, that’s not happening. Three days before Holstein’s announcement, 247sports’ Steve Wiltfong reported that Manning would be taking 3 official visits in the month of June. The first would be to Georgia on the first weekend of June, and then to Alabama and Texas. Unless Manning somehow decided that Holstein’s commitment changes where he stands with the Tide, Alabama is set to be a finalist.

It makes perfect sense. There’s a decent chance that Bryce Young will be off to the NFL Draft at season’s end, leaving an opening at QB1. By this time next year, we might’ve watched Alabama have 3 consecutive starting quarterbacks come off the board in Round 1. At the very least, Alabama had 3 consecutive quarterbacks at least finish in the top 3 of the Heisman voting. That, of course, is part of the easy pitch the Tide have that trumps any card that Texas or Georgia can play.

But surely Manning already has the pros and cons list of each potential destination. Well, check that.

“With Bryce, Mac, Tua, and all those guys. There’s really nothing bad about Alabama,” Manning told Wiltfong. “It’s a machine and really good guys over there. I just want to build the relationship a little bit more and see Tuscaloosa I guess one more time.”

There’s still a chance that Alabama ends up with both Manning and Holstein in this class. Is it the most likely scenario? Probably not just because we’ve still only seen 2 programs sign multiple top-10 QB recruits in the same class during the Playoff era (2021 Ohio State and 2020 Texas).

But Holstein’s commitment shouldn’t be treated as a sign that Alabama is accepting defeat in Manning’s recruitment. It shows that the Tide were extremely high on a coveted quarterback recruit, and Saban didn’t want to be scrambling for a last-minute option in the event that Manning chooses Georgia or Texas, especially if Alabama will lose at least 1 quarterback at season’s end.

Even as the calendar turns to June, 19 of the top 25 quarterback recruits in the country are already verbally committed somewhere.

The clock is ticking. Holstein’s commitment shouldn’t mean that the Tide’s time to recruit Manning is up.