Oklahoma Sooners: Justin Manning

OU can't afford to miss on QB Hansen 

April, 8, 2013
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.

Solid DTs aren't always highly ranked 

February, 5, 2013
Gerald McCoy and Tommie Harris are players who immediately come to mind when Oklahoma fans think of the tradition at defensive tackle. Both All-Americans were highly recruited high school prospects who stepped on campus with high expectations then fulfilled them.

But McCoy and Harris are the exception, not the norm.

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OU surviving poaching season ... for now 

January, 21, 2013
Oklahoma is making a living out of flipping commitments for its 2013 class. The Sooners have done it five times out of their 20 commits.

And while OU coach Bob Stoops has been busy trying to get others to reconsider where they stand, other schools are making hard charges at some of Stoops’ prized recruits.

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DT Huggins comfortable with Sooners 

December, 31, 2012
It was becoming a horrible repetitive song and dance for Oklahoma’s 2013 recruiting class. Make an offer to a top defensive tackle. Have OU defensive tackles coach Jackie Shipp develop a strong bond with the prospect.

Get the recruit to the campus. Have the Sooners reach the final three and then have OU fans’ hearts ripped out when he goes to another school.

Kerrick Huggins
Damon Sayles/ESPN.comKerrick Huggins initially committed to Texas A&M, but the lure of Oklahoma was too much for the Dallas native.
Need proof? Houston Westfield’s Hardreck Walker chose Texas A&M over OU. ESPN 150 DT Greg Gilmore (Hope Mills, N.C./South View) picked LSU over the Sooners.

And then the dagger for some OU fans when ESPN 150 prospect Justin Manning (Dallas/Kimball) pledged to A&M instead of OU. Manning, the younger brother of former OU defensive tackle DeMarcus Granger, was thought to be the closest thing to a Sooners lock for the class.

But he picked the Aggies. Would OU ever get good news? It came in a hurry last month, and it came from a familiar spot.

Manning and Walker were among five A&M defensive tackle commits. As Texas A&M worked its magic with Manning, OU coaches Shipp and Bob Stoops were working on swaying longtime A&M commit Kerrick Huggins.

Dallas Skyline has been a solid pipeline for OU, and the Sooners are hoping Huggins can be added to that list.

Huggins flipped his commitment from A&M to OU last month.

“Whew, this is like a big sigh of relief,” Huggins said. “It feels great to have this over with. For real this time. I cannot wait to make it official on signing day.”

Huggins was among A&M’s first commits, pledging to the Aggies in January. He admits he was overwhelmed by his visit to the campus. It was the first one he had seen, and he got caught up in the emotion.

As the months went on, he started thinking he made too rash a decision. The Sooners weren’t the first to offer. They weren’t even close. OU didn’t officially offer Huggins until September, but the relationship was established long before then.

“It started in my junior year, actually, with Coach Shipp,” Huggins said. “I had that connection immediately with him. What I always loved about Coach Shipp was he was cool with whatever decision I ended up making. Even if I didn’t go to OU, he didn’t care.”

But Shipp could sense Huggins wasn’t 100 percent sold on the Aggies. And following the offer, Shipp and Huggins talked at least once a week.

Huggins made an unofficial visit to A&M for the Aggies’ showdown with LSU. But something simply didn’t feel right.

“Wasn’t really a place I could see myself playing,” Huggins said. “The more I thought about it, the more I thought OU was beginning to look like a great backup plan. And after more time, I started thinking it was the place for me.”

In early December OU made its push. Shipp came down to the school and had another great visit with Huggins. The following week it wasn’t just Shipp, but OU coach Bob Stoops that came along.

“I was like I know what I want to do,” Huggins said. “It was during my talk with Coach Stoops I told him I wanted to be a Sooner. He was so excited.”

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Three-star defensive tackle Kerrick Huggins (Dallas/Skyline) has flipped his commitment from the Aggies to the Sooners, according to a Dallas Skyline coach.

Huggins, who is 6-foot-3 and 285 pounds, decommitted from Texas A&M and committed to OU on Thursday, according to Dallas Skyline recruiting coordinator Jason R. Garrett.

The change in commitment is a major boost to OU, which has been desperate to find a defensive tackle for its 2013 class.

The Sooners and Aggies have battled it out four times for defensive tackles in this class, and the scoreboard read 4-0 for the Aggies in terms of recruits that had offers from both schools.

The biggest blow was last week when ESPN 150 tackle Justin Manning (Dallas/Kimball) picked A&M over OU despite all of his OU connections and the fact his older brother, DeMarcus Granger, played defensive tackle for the Sooners.

Huggins was among Texas A&M’s first commits for the class, pledging to the Aggies in February. Since then, A&M has racked up three more tackle commits and had five commits at the position coming into the week.

OU, which is hoping to have three commits at the position, had zero entering the week. It has come close with several top prospects but has not been able to seal the deal. Until now.

OU didn’t initially offer Huggins. It wasn’t until September that the Sooners extended that honor. Huggins said then he was flattered by the offer, but he was solid with A&M.

The Sooners didn’t stop, though, continuing to recruit him even if it didn’t look like it was going to pay off.

The persistence did pay off. Huggins is OU’s 15th commit and second of the week, joining three-star defensive end Ogbonnia Okoronkwo (Houston/Alief Taylor). Like Huggins, Okornkwo was a flipped commitment, too, going from Bedlam rival Oklahoma State to OU on Wednesday.

A&M with recruiting edge over OU in 2013 

December, 12, 2012
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.

[+] EnlargeDerrick Griffin
Sam Khan Jr./ESPN.comThe 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)

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Each week SoonerNation recruiting writers Bob Przybylo and Brandon Chatmon will faceoff on one issue regarding Oklahoma recruiting.

This week’s question: What has been the biggest disappointment for OU so far for its 2013 recruiting class?

[+] EnlargeBeau Sandland
Courtesy of Pierce CollegeUntil Oklahoma decides to utilize the tight end in the passing game more, prospects such as Beau Sandland will go elsewhere.
Bob Przybylo: The popular choice is ESPN 150 defensive tackle Justin Manning (Dallas/Kimball), but he had been openly flirting with Texas A&M the whole time and seemingly had been looking for a reason to not pick OU.

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DT Manning another big miss for Sooners 

December, 6, 2012
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.

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Sooner Intel: Recruiting news and notes 

December, 6, 2012
Every Thursday, SoonerNation releases the Sooner Intel, a sneak peek inside Oklahoma Sooners football recruiting with news and notes on the latest happenings around the program. Talk about it on our forum. A few things discussed in this week's update:

  • It's decision day for DT target Justin Manning
  • Has OU fallen behind on recruiting an ESPN 150 LB?

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Weekend Rewind: Oklahoma 

December, 3, 2012
It feels like the Sooners have been playing catchup for most of the year on the recruiting trail. The OU coaches have preached patience with the class offers, and it has put OU in a tough spot.

This time, though, it wasn’t OU’s fault. With the Sooners playing Saturday at TCU, they couldn’t utilize the first week of in-home visits, so they will have to make up some ground.

OU will get started in a hurry. Three big names scheduled to have in-home visits are ESPN 150 defensive tackle Maquedius Bain (Fort Lauderdale, Fla./University School), ESPN 150 safety Tahaan Goodman (Rancho Cucamonga, Calif./Ranch Cucamonga) and ESPN 300 athlete and Florida State commit Adrian Baker (Hollywood, Fla./Chaminade-Madonna).

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DT Manning moves up announcement date 

December, 2, 2012

It’s been quite a journey, but ESPN 150 defensive tackle Justin Manning (Dallas/Kimball) now knows where he wants to play college football.

In fact, he’s so confident that he moved up his announcement date from Friday to Thursday.

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Sooner Intel: Recruiting news and notes 

November, 29, 2012
Every Thursday, SoonerNation releases the Sooner Intel, a sneak peek inside Oklahoma Sooners football recruiting with news and notes on the latest happenings around the program. Talk about it on our forum. A few things discussed in this week's update:

  • Crazy week continues for new OU commit
  • More on the defensive end situation

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Justin Manning confirms decision date 

November, 28, 2012

ESPN 150 defensive tackle Justin Manning (Dallas/Kimball) has confirmed that he will announce where he will play college football on Dec. 7.

Manning, a 6-foot-2, 275-pound tackle, said the announcement most likely will take place at his high school between 3:30 p.m. and 4 p.m. CT. He is expected to choose among Oklahoma, Texas A&M or TCU.

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OU hasn't made big impression on trail 

November, 21, 2012
It’s going too far to call Oklahoma’s 2012 season a disappointment at this point. The Sooners are 8-2, 6-1 in Big 12 conference play. Goals of winning the conference championship and playing in a BCS bowl game remain within reach.

OU has only lost home games to No. 2 Kansas State and No. 4 Notre Dame, two of the best teams in the country. So why does it feel like a lackluster fall in Norman, Okla., on the recruiting trail?

[+] EnlargeJustin Manning
Damon Sayles/ESPN.comESPN 150 defensive tackle Justin Manning remains atop the Sooners' target board.
The Sooners simply haven’t made that huge impression to nab big-time recruits. OU has hosted them, a slew of top-ranked recruits in the ESPN 150 and ESPN 300. But the Sooners haven’t earned a commitment from any of them since the season began.

The struggles don’t end there. Until recently, OU hadn’t snagged a commitment of any kind since July 31. That changed when three-star athlete Dominique Alexander (Tulsa, Okla./Booker T. Washington) flipped his commitment from Arkansas to OU.

More troubling has been the trend of prospects committing to other schools following a visit to OU. ESPN 300 and four-star athlete Chevoski Collins (Livingston, Texas/Livingston) made an official visit to OU for the Kansas State game. Less than a month later, he committed to Texas.

Four-star cornerback Cole Luke (Chandler, Ariz./Hamilton) made an official visit to OU for the Notre Dame game. Less than a week later, he committed to the Irish.

And despite all the Arizona ties with three-star offensive tackle Kenny Lacy (Phoenix/Mountain Pointe), the UCLA commit has opted to not visit OU. Lacy was among OU’s top targets at the position. He was very familiar with OU coaches Mike Stoops and Tim Kish from their time coaching at Arizona.

But a planned official visit to OU for Bedlam against Oklahoma State has now been switched to a visit to Kansas State at a date to be determined.

The list of recruits OU has hosted is an impressive one. ESPN 150 prospects like safety Marcell Harris (Orlando, Fla./Dr. Phillips), defensive tackle Justin Manning (Dallas/Kimball) and defensive tackle Greg Gilmore (Hope Mills, N.C./South View) have all toured the OU campus. However, OU still is searching for its first four-star commit of the football season.

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Justin Manning: Decision 'after the season' 

November, 15, 2012
To all the Sooners, Aggies and Horned Frogs fans, do not expect an answer from Justin Manning (Dallas/Kimball) until after the playoffs.

The ESPN 150 defensive tackle on Thursday night said that his primary focus is to help keep Kimball in the Texas Class 4A playoffs for as long as possible. The Knights opened the postseason with a 38-13 win against Dallas Bryan Adams.

“I won’t make any decisions until after the playoffs,” said Manning, who reconfirmed that Oklahoma, Texas A&M and TCU are in his final three.

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