Print and Go Back ESPN.com: On The Trail: Midlands Region [Print without images]

Wednesday, January 2, 2013
DT Justin Manning: 'A&M all the way'

By Sam Khan Jr.

Nearly a month ago, Dallas Kimball defensive tackle Justin Manning made an impactful decision.

The ESPN 150 prospect decided not to follow his older brother's footsteps to Oklahoma and instead blaze his own trail to College Station, Texas, committing to Texas A&M.

The U.S. Army All-American, who is in San Antonio in preparations for the U.S. Army All-American Bowl on Saturday, said that looking back on his decision, he still feels good about it.

"I feel it's the same," Manning said. "It's the same as four weeks ago. Nothing's changed."

Perhaps the most important word in Manning's recruitment was "trust." That's something he has in the Aggies' coaching staff.

"I can't explain it," Manning said. "It's just that when I'm around them, it's a positive vibe."

It wasn't an easy decision, by any stretch of the imagination. His older brother, DeMarcus Granger, went from Kimball to Oklahoma, so Manning has had an up-close view of what life is like as a Sooner. But he said that he thought deeply about the decision before making it.

"It was real hard to me," Manning said. "Maybe to some people it should have been an easier decision but once you think things through and get the whole picture and look at what goes on behind it and everything, you start to understand more."

Things have calmed down for Manning since he made his announcement on Dec. 6.

"Everything is just mellow and real calm," he said "I don't receive as many phone calls now, but everything is pretty smooth."

He has enjoyed his week in San Antonio so far, getting to know and bonding with the other Texas A&M commits who are playing in the game: Isaiah Golden, Derrick Griffin, Kameron Miles and Ricky Seals-Jones.

"It's been real fun," Manning said. "We're just out here having a good time and trying to make the best of this one week that we have. All of them are real goofy and like to play around and be young."

The best part of the week so far? Manning said it's the food. The players are being fed well while participating in the festivities.

While getting to know his future teammates, Manning has also been focused on practicing hard and playing well in preparation for Saturday's game. He's also excited to watch the AT&T Cotton Bowl, which will feature the Aggies and Sooners, two of his three finalists (TCU was the other).

"A&M all the way," Manning said.