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Wednesday, December 12, 2012
A&M with recruiting edge over OU in 2013

By Bob Przybylo

Oklahoma is 10-2 on the season and Big 12 co-champions. The Sooners have a strong history and winning tradition.

But try telling that to Class of 2013 recruits. Because right now, Texas A&M is where it’s at.

Derrick Griffin
The nation's top tight end, Derrick Griffin, was one of the Sooners' earliest offers in the Class of 2013.
Want proof? Two OU commits (RB Keith Ford and LB Jordan Mastrogiovanni) have offers from the Aggies. Conversely, OU has offered 10 of A&M's commits.

None bigger or more polarizing than ESPN 150 defensive tackle Justin Manning (Dallas/Kimball). It was a sign of the times when Manning chose A&M over OU last week despite all his familiarity and connections with the Sooners program.

Here is a look at those 10 Aggies commits with OU offers and how their recruiting breakdown played out. GigEmNation’s Sam Khan Jr. also stops by to say how solid their commitment is to A&M at this point.

TE Derrick Griffin (Rosenberg, Texas/Terry, 6-6, 228, ESPN 150)

Griffin was one of OU’s first offers for the class. The Sooners targeted him early, but it simply didn’t matter. Once Texas A&M got in the game and showed real interest, there was no real battle. Griffin wanted to be an Aggie and will be an Aggie.

Khan’s take: Griffin kept his options open throughout the fall but once the Aggies showed success in the SEC, Griffin's commitment strengthened. He said Alabama and LSU are still contacting him but he said he feels real good about the Aggies. I don't expect that to change.

DT Justin Manning (Dallas/Kimball, 6-2, 275, ESPN 150)

The ultimate gut-punch. No other way to describe it for OU. The Sooners thought Manning was in the bag, thought there was no way he would venture elsewhere. But Texas A&M kept up the pressure, kept showing how much it wanted the OU legacy. In the end, that determination paid off.

Khan’s take: He's solid right now since he's fresh off the announcement, but it wasn't an easy decision for him and I would never say never with Manning. At times, he seemed conflicted about the entire process as he neared his original decision date in October, which he pushed back. Some of his public words were about keeping everyone guessing, but he also seemed generally stressed about the process and undecided not knowing who to "trust" in his words. Could he second-guess himself? I doubt it happens and don't think he'll change his mind since his decision came roughly two months before signing day, but I'd never rule anything out with Manning. The good thing for A&M is he trusts their coaches.

ATH LaQuvionte Gonzalez (Cedar Hill, Texas/Cedar Hill, 5-10, 148, ESPN 150)

OU offered first, but it became clear Gonzalez wanted to head to A&M. The Sooners tried to get him up for a junior day visit but it never panned out. Not much longer, he was committed to the Aggies. Light in frame, Gonzalez is an explosive talent.

Khan’s take: Gonzalez is solid as is his Cedar Hill teammate, Quincy Adeboyejo. He regularly tweets about the Aggies and seemed genuinely excited about Johnny Manziel winning the Heisman Trophy. That being said, with Ricky Seals-Jones' recent commitment there are potentially eight players in the class that could wind up at receiver. That has to have some of them, including Gonzalez, thinking.

DT Isaiah Golden (Carthage, Texas/Carthage, 6-2, 302, ESPN 300)

Another defensive tackle and another win for the Aggies. Golden never really gave OU a shot in this one. He committed at A&M’s junior day, which was before either one of OU’s junior day events. Sooners never had a chance to get him on campus.

Khan’s take: Golden once said that LSU could change his mind if the Tigers offered but after a strong first SEC season, that's not the case anymore. Once he had the chance to visit for the A&M-LSU game, he was reassured about his original decision to commit to Texas A&M.

OT J.J. Gustafson (Dallas/Jesuit, 6-5, 260)

Another tough pill to swallow for OU fans. Gustafson received an offer at OU’s junior day, and a strong argument could be made OU is his second choice. But second doesn’t mean much in recruiting. Gustafson later visited A&M, and it was the Aggies who came away with his pledge.

Khan’s take: Gustafson is as solid as they get. He doesn't take calls from other coaches and hasn't for some time, completely shutting down the process months ago.

ILB Reggie Chevis (Houston/Sharpstown, 6-2, 235)

An interesting case here. Chevis had OU in his final three, but Sooners fans didn’t allow themselves to get excited when Chevis couldn’t even remember the name of OU’s linebacker coach [Tim Kish]. Another case where he never saw the campus.

Khan’s take: Chevis is graduating from Sharpstown in December so he'll be on the A&M campus in a matter of weeks. This one's a done deal.

DT Kerrick Huggins (Dallas/Skyline, 6-3, 285)

You want another recurring theme? OU took too long. Sooners took way too long to get involved with Huggins. Already committed to A&M for several months, OU finally made an offer to Huggins in September and haven’t made a dent at all so far.

Khan’s take: Like Bob said, the Sooners waited too long to offer. Huggins was and is already set on A&M and isn't planning on taking official visits elsewhere.

Hardreck Walker
Defensive tackle Hardreck Walker chose Texas A&M over Oklahoma, Missouri, Arkansas and Texas Tech, among others.
DT Hardreck Walker (Houston/Westfield, 6-2, 281)

Another gut-punch although maybe not to the same extent of Manning. OU had Walker on campus in February but didn’t offer him until June. At that point, though Walker was excited, too much time had passed and Walker was set on going with the Aggies.

Khan’s take: Walker has never given the impression he's anything but solid and among the commits in the A&M class, he's been one of the more frequent unofficial visitors for home games.

WR Kyrion Parker (Manvel, Texas/Manvel, 6-2, 192)

OU has gone into Manvel hard, and Parker was a big reason why. Parker showed some strong early OU interest and might still be interested in the Sooners, but the Aggies are trying to make sure Parker stays in the fold. OU has the commitment of Parker’s teammate, wide receiver Austin Bennett.

Khan’s take: In recent weeks, Parker was considering taking an official visit to Oklahoma but decided against it. He said he's not planning on taking any visits and he's solid. However, as mentioned before, you have to wonder if he's concerned about all the receivers in the class now with RSJ's addition. I wouldn't rule anything out here.

TE Cameron Clear (Yuma, Ariz./Arizona Western, 6-6, 285)

This one goes a little under the radar but hurts just the same for OU, who is on a constant search for a tight end for 2013. Clear made a visit to A&M one week. Followed that up with an OU visit the next and then a commitment to the Aggies less than 72 hours after the Sooners trip.

Khan’s take: Clear being a mid-year guy means he, too, will be on the A&M campus soon. Arizona Western coach Tom Minnick said that he felt Clear already had his heart set on the Aggies even before he took his official visit to Oklahoma. Credit Kevin Sumlin's hands-on approach for that as he was very involved with Clear's recruitment. On the day the Aggies' got Clear's commitment, Sumlin flew to Memphis to visit Clear's parents then to Arizona to see Clear.