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Monday, April 8, 2013
OU can't afford to miss on QB Hansen

By Bob Przybylo

NORMAN, Okla. -- No school is ever going to get every top recruit it pursues. It’s just not reasonable.

Some of those misses can be shrugged off. There are other options out there, and one recruit doesn't make or break a program.

Justice Hansen
ESPN Watch List QB Justice Hansen will decide between Texas A&M and Oklahoma soon.
But in each class there are a select few that simply stand out as high-priority needs. Oklahoma had one of those prospects for the 2013 class and now has another for the Class of 2014 in ESPN Watch List quarterback Justice Hansen (Edmond, Okla./Santa Fe).

The Sooners were denied that "can’t-miss" prospect last year, as ESPN 150 defensive tackle Justin Manning isn’t heading to Norman, Okla. Why? Because he’s heading to College Station, Texas, to play for Texas A&M. And why might the Sooners not land Hansen? Those same Aggies.

It didn’t seem possible for OU to miss on Manning. He had a solid relationship with defensive tackles coach Jackie Shipp. His older brother, DeMarcus Granger, was a defensive tackle for the Sooners. He had seen the campus multiple times.

But it happened. New year, same story with Hansen.

Hansen has been a priority for OU quarterbacks coach Josh Heupel since Hansen was a freshman. He has camped at OU the last two summers and has visited the campus repeatedly. It’s now April, and Hansen remains OU’s only quarterback offer.

Let me repeat that. Hansen is the sole offer -- that’s how serious Heupel, Bob Stoops and company are about the Under Armour All-American. All of the Sooners' eggs are in the Hansen basket.

Like Manning, Hansen has ties to OU as well. His father, Dusty Hansen, played baseball at OU and was a member of the Sooners’ 1994 College World Series championship team.

Like Manning, A&M has stepped on the gas with Hansen to try to make up ground. Hansen took an unofficial visit three weeks ago that made it clear it’s down to the Sooners and Aggies.

He returned to OU two weeks ago. Never one to beat around the bush, Hansen said it’s down to two. That distinction is nice as Hansen also has offers from Ole Miss, Auburn and Kansas State, among others, but it doesn’t make the decision any easier.

Hansen said he admires a lot of different things for both programs. He says there isn't a wrong choice. But there is for OU.

The Sooners can't afford to miss out on another recruit who appeared to be in their back pocket. Will Heupel find a suitable replacement if Hansen chooses A&M? Of course. Heupel knows what he’s doing. But the national perception of the OU program would take a beating. Seven of Texas A&M’s 10 commits have OU offers. If Hansen makes it eight of 11, that will be a bitter pill to swallow for OU fans. And to have A&M nab another top OU target would be a slap in the face for Sooners fans.

This recruitment has been dubbed the “Pursuit of Justice” by SoonerNation readers. The pursuit is going to end soon. In all likelihood, this will no longer be a discussion by next week.

It wasn’t planned, but it just sort of worked out that Texas A&M and OU have their spring games on Saturday. Hansen said he would love to commit in person. So it could be like "Where’s Waldo?" If you see Hansen in Norman, he’s with the Sooners. See him in College Station, he’ll be an Aggie.

Hansen said he is going to talk it over with his family and his coaches. Is his bond with Heupel and OU too strong to overcome for the Aggies? Many felt the same way with Manning. What A&M coach Kevin Sumlin is selling, the recruits are buying. It has never been a more exciting time to be a part of the Aggies program.

Heupel and Stoops must have the antidote for the Aggies this time around. Hansen can't be another prospect who gets away.