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Insider

DT Manning, Shipp continue to build bond

9/23/2012

There is not much ESPN 150 defensive tackle Justin Manning (Dallas/Kimball) hasn’t heard in the recruiting circles. Either during his own recruitment or during that of his older brother, former Oklahoma defensive tackle DeMarcus Granger.

The problem for Manning is trying to decipher what is truth and what is a coach trying to tell him exactly what the coach thinks Manning wants to hear.

It has made things difficult, at times, but there is one coach Manning feels 100 percent comfortable with in OU defensive tackles coach Jackie Shipp.

Manning, who is 6-foot-2 and 275 pounds and ranked No. 89 in the ESPN 150, got another chance to strengthen the bond with Shipp during his official visit to Norman, Okla., this weekend.

“Nothing that happened this weekend hurt things,” Manning said. “All it did was give us another chance to make our relationship that much stronger.”

He knows he can talk to Shipp about football, but the two rarely do anymore. They talk about life and school and really anything Manning wants to talk about he feels comfortable talking with Shipp about.

Manning has seen it all at OU. He has seen the good and bad. Saturday was one of those bad moments as the Sooners lost a rare home game in a 24-19 defeat to Kansas State. But he said it won’t affect him moving forward.

And Manning will move forward. No recruit has a more ambitious schedule than Manning in the next few weeks. The OU visit is the first of four consecutive weekends of official visits for Manning.

He will be at Texas A&M next weekend, followed by TCU and LSU in the weeks after that.

Manning was hosted by Joe Powell and Casey Walker, but there wasn’t much the duo or anybody on OU can really tell Manning that would stand out. He knows the campus. Knows the coaches. Knows what to expect.

Who he didn’t know was fellow official visitor Toby Johnson (Hutchinson, Kan./Hutchinson CC). Manning isn’t accustomed to being the smaller of two people, but Johnson is considerably bigger at 6-4, 290.

“When I first met him, I was a little worried. I was like I know I’m not this far behind,” Manning said. “How come I’ve never heard of this guy?

“I thought he was in high school. When he said he was a juco player, I felt a lot better, like, 'Thank you.' But he was really cool, and we talked about playing together.”

Playing together would be the ideal scenario for the Sooners. It’s not a case of Manning or Johnson regarding the Sooners. OU would love to get both commitments as defensive tackle is a major need for the 2013 class.

The Sooners have been in the running for other top tackles but have yet to land a commitment from one of their targets.