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Thursday, December 6, 2012
DT Manning another big miss for Sooners

By Bob Przybylo

Oklahoma has played bridesmaid for several top ESPN 150 recruits in the last few months. But on many of them, the Sooners were considered longshots.

But Dallas Kimball defensive tackle Justin Manning? He was thought to be a shoo-in ever since he was offered this spring. A no-brainer. If anybody was going to be a Sooner commit for the 2013 class, it was going to be Manning.

That’s the luck the Sooners are having right now on the recruiting trail as Manning, ranked No. 88 in the ESPN 150 and No. 8 at defensive tackle, chose Texas A&M over OU and TCU at a ceremony at Dallas Kimball on Thursday afternoon.

Other recruits going elsewhere were disappointments -- this is a gut-punch for the fan base. Maybe the ultimate gut-punch and a sign of just how the stock of the Aggies has never been higher, while the Sooners’ stock has stagnated.

OU defensive tackles coach Jackie Shipp sought out Manning as the No. 1 target at defensive tackle. In the spring and summer, it looked like Manning was still going to head to Norman. He was still going to follow in the footsteps of his older brother and former OU defensive tackle DeMarcus Granger.

A&M never went away. Manning made official visits to both places and saw the Sooners play four times this season. It simply didn’t matter.

The key for the OU coaching staff is to get right back to work. Cannot dwell on missing out on Manning, who is 6-foot-2 and 275 pounds. The Sooners had an in-home visit with fellow ESPN 150 defensive tackle Maquedius Bain (Fort Lauderdale, Fla./University School), and OU is in the hunt for several juco tackles.

Being in the hunt isn’t good enough at this point. It’s time for Shipp to make a strong move to lure Bain or Quincy Russell (Athens, Texas/Trinity Valley CC) or Toby Johnson (Hutchinson, Kan./Hutchinson CC) to Norman.

Defensive tackle is the top position of need for OU’s 2013 class. It was in February and that’s not going to change. OU remains with zero commits at the spot when the Sooners would love to have three quality commits.

The Aggies have been a thorn in the side at OU’s pursuit of tackles. Texas A&M 4, OU 0. Aggies are a perfect 4-for-4 against OU. A&M has also been able to earn commitments from OU offers Isaiah Golden (Carthage, Texas/Carthage), Kerrick Huggins (Dallas/Skyline) and Hardreck Walker (Houston/Westfield).

There is still two months until signing day, and OU can close out the class strong. But it cannot play bridesmaid any longer at defensive tackle if the Sooners are going to have success in the future. West Virginia and Oklahoma State almost combined for 100 points. OU needs help.

OU was supposed to get that help with Manning. After his announcement, the search still continues.