OU loses recruit Justin Manning to A&M
BY GUERIN EMIG World Sports Writer
Friday, December 07, 2012
12/07/12 at 5:53 AM
Read Hoover’s blog: John E. Hoover explains how OU lost out on Justin Manning.
NORMAN - The Oklahoma Sooners had to have Justin Manning.
He was a legacy, the brother of former OU defensive tackle DeMarcus Granger. Manning, too, played defensive tackle, a position about to be depleted by graduation. He was among the top-10 prospects in Texas, the Sooners' old reliable recruiting grounds.
But the Sooners didn't get him Thursday.
Texas A&M did.
In a recruiting upset that had to shake OU, Manning put on an Aggies ballcap and verbally committed to A&M at a ceremony at his Dallas Kimball High School.
"Oklahoma has been my dream school since day one," he told ESPN.com after his announcement. "The only doubts I had about them was when I arrived, would I feel too comfortable?"
Manning apparently had no such question with the Aggies. Either way, he made their head coach quite happy.
"YESSIR!" Kevin Sumlin tweeted not long after the announcement.
Meanwhile, OU coaches no doubt gathered themselves and went looking a little harder for reinforcements they currently do not have. They don't have a defensive tackle among their 14 verbal commitments.
That's not promising, considering three of the four tackles in the Sooners' current rotation - Jamarkus McFarland, Casey Walker and Stacy McGee - are seniors. The fourth is redshirt freshman Jordan Phillips, who has made 12 tackles in 10 games this season.
Behind the first four: sophomores Torrea Peterson and Damon Williams, redshirt freshman Marquis Anderson and true freshman Jordan Wade, OU's only signee at the position last February. Peterson and Anderson were both suspended at points during the Sooners' season.
That's not to suggest Manning would have enrolled next summer and moved into the starting lineup by the 2013 opener. The overwhelming majority of defensive tackles under position coach Jackie Shipp have redshirted.
But at least one man scoffed at the notion of Manning waiting his turn.
"No, no, no. This is not a redshirt kid," Kimball coach Carlton Nelson told the Tulsa World in a phone interview this week. "He will contribute right away...
"He's a beast. He moves around really good. He has the feet and quickness to play end, even though he bounces from 275 to 285. He's a strong kid. Knows the game of football.
"He can play nose guard in an odd front, or over the guard in an even front. Doesn't matter. He could play tackle, nose or end. He can be a run stopper or a pass rusher."
Manning chose to play those roles for the Aggies, despite the fact Sumlin already had commitments from three defensive tackles, all of whom are four-star prospects.
Manning is a four-star as well. He is the nation's No. 6 high school defensive tackle according to Rivals, No. 7 according to Scout and No. 8 according to ESPN.
He would have been the instant centerpiece of OU's current class. He would have represented a much-needed recruiting victory for the Sooners, who have run hot and cold with high-profiled prospects of late. OU's class to date is rated 29th by Rivals recruiting service, behind Big 12 schools Texas (12th) and Oklahoma State (21st).
OU up next: Cotton Bowl
Vs. Texas A&M
At Cowboys Stadium, Arlington, Texas
7 p.m. Jan. 4
Radio: KMOD fm97.5, KTBZ am1430
Original Print Headline: OU loses recruit to A&M
Guerin Emig 918-581-8355