- William Wilkerson, RecruitingNation
If you haven’t caught on yet, ESPNU Watch List defensive tackle Justin Manning is taking his time with this whole recruiting thing.
Popular opinion as to his eventual choice hasn’t changed much. But the fact that he hasn’t already chosen Oklahoma, where his brother Demarcus Granger once played, is somewhat alarming.
Manning (6-foot-2, 275 pounds) said he would already be committed to the Sooners if they would have starting recruiting him earlier than they did.
“If Oklahoma wouldn’t have waited so long I probably would have committed on the spot,” Manning said. “It’s true that I was glued in on Oklahoma in the beginning but I didn’t hear from Oklahoma my whole sophomore year. I started talking to Oklahoma at the end of my junior year and by then I already had like 10 offers. So I became wide open and was talking to those 10 coaches. Right now, that is a total negative on them.”
One school that is happy he hasn't already chosen Oklahoma is the Sooners' bitter rival, Texas, a program that offered him during its first junior day. Manning is one of two defensive tackles the Longhorns have offered. The other, A'Shawn Robinson, has already committed to Texas.
“It’s a good school, an up-and-coming school," Manning said of Texas. "It is a talented team. It seems like they have a lot of recruits and I can see myself there and winning at the same time.”
Texas and Oklahoma are two of the key players in Manning’s recruitment, but they are far from the only two. Manning holds offers from programs around the country including LSU, USC, Arizona, UCLA, Michigan, Ole Miss, North Carolina, Oregon State, Baylor, Texas A&M, Kansas State, Miami, Purdue, TCU, Tennessee and Texas Tech.
“It’s crazy, but I’m just taking my time with it,” he said.
Manning doesn’t expect to make a decision until sometime during his senior season. When asked what schools were still in consideration, Manning said, “All of them really. I mean, not all of them, but most of them are. I haven’t really thought on it too much.”
When pressed on the topic Manning listed “TCU, Alabama, LSU, Ole Miss, USC, Kansas State and Texas A&M” as other contenders along with the Red River rivals. He said he’s visited all of the Texas schools except for Houston and Baylor, and enjoyed his trip to Texas A&M where he was able to meet the new coaching staff.
Manning said his brother hasn’t played that big of a role in his recruitment to this point.
“He doesn’t really comment on it,” he said. “ The most he has said was when he was taking me to OU’s junior day that he wouldn’t be taking me to Oklahoma if Oklahoma was a bad school."
Manning isn’t 100 percent positive he will be at Oklahoma’s spring game on April 14, but said that he intends on making it. He said he would have either gone to LSU or Texas A&M this past weekend but couldn’t because he had to make up a test.
“It’s a blessing for me to know that all your hard work is paying off,” Manning said. “Now all I need to do is stay focused, stay humble, and focus on school.”