NCF On The Trail: Justin Manning

The Early Offer is RecruitingNation's regular feature, giving you a daily dose of recruiting in the mornings. Today's offerings: Mondays sometimes can be slow for recruiting news, but not this week. The day started with two major decommitments from Pac-12 programs, one of those decommitments later committing to another Pac-12 program, and ended with a pledge from one of the nation's top 2015 prospects to a SEC team.

Texas A&M's second junior day of the year has gotten better as the hours have passed.

After scoring two commitments in the afternoon, a third 2014 player is on board in the form of Nederland (Texas) High School defensive tackle DeShawn Washington. At 6-foot-3 and 275 pounds, Washington is the 10th commitment in the Aggies' 2014 class and the first defensive tackle.

On his Twitter account, Washington posted "It's official, I'm going to be a Aggie," and also confirmed his commitment via text message to GigEmNation. He was one of several prospects in attendance at Texas A&M's junior day on Saturday in College Station, Texas. He joins Dylan Sumner-Gardner and Armani Watts as prospects who gave their pledge to the Aggies on Saturday.

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McKinney, Beaty pay off for Aggies 

February, 7, 2013
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With the recent staff changes and the promotion of running backs coach and recruiting coordinator Clarence McKinney to offensive coordinator, it seemed fitting that the person who inherited the recruiting coordinator title from McKinney was receivers coach David Beaty.

Beaty and McKinney are two of a kind when it comes to recruiting. Both are former high school head coaches in major metropolitan cities (Beaty in Dallas, McKinney in Houston). Both have been in coaching for more than 15 years.


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Justin Manning TweetChat 

February, 5, 2013
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GigEmNation recently solicited questions from fans via Twitter for ESPN 150 defensive tackle and Texas A&M commitment Justin Manning. Then GigEmNation's Sam Khan Jr. visited with Manning to ask him the questions the fans wanted answers to. Here's the Q&A with the nation's ninth-ranked defensive tackle, who chose the Aggies over Oklahoma and TCU:

@mikey_esquivel: What made you choose A&M?

Justin Manning
Damon Sayles/ESPN.comJustin Manning is ready to get to work and make an immediate impact at Texas A&M.
Justin Manning: "Just the whole recruiting class. It couldn't have been better timing and a better school. I just felt like everything was perfect. I love the coaching staff and the whole recruiting class."

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Signing day primer: Texas A&M 

January, 23, 2013
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Team needs: There are three key need areas for Texas A&M in this recruiting class: defensive tackles, linebackers and receivers. The defensive tackle need stems from the Aggies' scheme switch. The 2010 and 2011 seasons were spent in a 3-4 alignment, and recruiting was tailored to that. Once Kevin Sumlin arrived and hired Mark Snyder as his defensive coordinator, the Aggies switched to a 4-3, meaning another defensive tackle on the field, meaning more were needed. At linebacker, the Aggies say goodbye to a pair of senior leaders, Sean Porter and Jonathan Stewart, both of whom were starters. The other starting linebacker, Steven Jenkins, will be a senior this season. At receiver there are several contributors leaving as well. Ryan Swope, Uzoma Nwachukwu and Kenric McNeal were all seniors. Thomas Johnson, a true freshman who appeared in 10 games and was one of the gems of the 2012 recruiting class, withdrew from school and might not return. There's another scholarship spot at the position in the form of Brandal Jackson, who was on scholarship but not part of the 105-man roster at the start of fall camp.

Help is on the way: At defensive tackle, A&M scored commitments from ESPN 150 defensive tackle Justin Manning and ESPN 300 defensive tackle Isaiah Golden. Three-star prospect Hardreck Walker and three-star Jordan Points (who is already on campus) round out that group. There are six linebackers in the class, led by ESPN 300 ILB Jordan Mastrogiovanni. Three are already on campus and enrolled: Brett Wade, Reggie Chevis and Tommy Sanders. At receiver, the Aggies have plenty. Ricky Seals-Jones tops the list, prep school standout Ja'Quay Williams is already in school, and there's a pair of three-star receivers as well. Not to mention, No. 1 tight end prospect Derrick Griffin would be a receiver at A&M if he makes it in, and athlete LaQuvionte Gonzalez likely would be an inside receiver.

Other key commits: A pair of Under Armour All-Americans, guard Joas Aguilar and cornerback Noel Ellis, plus a U.S. Army All-American, safety Kameron Miles, round out a group 10 prospects that are among ESPN's top 300. Two quarterbacks are in the class (Kohl Stewart and Kenny Hill), but it's worth keeping an eye on them as Stewart is a potential high MLB draft pick and Hill took official visits to Baylor and Kansas State. Eight early enrollees in the class are already on campus (Chevis, Points, Sanders, Wade, Williams, Cameron Clear, Alex Sezer and Jeremiah Stuckey), and there are plenty of promising three-star commits, including guys like cornerback Tavares Garner and outside linebacker Darian Claiborne.

Other key targets: There aren't a ton of targets left for the Aggies at this point. Their focus is on a small handful of guys. Adding a defensive end would be ideal for the Aggies, and they're pursuing Washington commit Daeshon Hall and USC commit Torrodney Prevot in that regard. Hall visited recently, and Prevot could soon. They are also still looking at another receiver. Former USC commit Sebastian LaRue is one of those targets, and he was in on an official visit recently. They are also looking at Florida State commit Levonte Whitfield, who said he plans to officially visit Feb. 1.

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videoSAN ANTONIO – ESPN 150 wide receiver James Quick (Louisville, Ky./Trinity) has drawn plenty of attention for his play through two practices for the East team in preparation for the U.S. Army All-American Bowl.

He’ll garner even more eyes his way on Saturday when he announces his commitment during the game.

[+] EnlargeJames Quick
Damon Sayles/ESPN.comESPN 150 WR James Quick is set to decide between Ohio State, Louisville and Oregon on Saturday.
The 6-foot-1, 180-pounder said he is down to Louisville, Ohio State and Oregon. Though his decision will come Saturday, it could be finalized by Wednesday morning, as he sits down to discuss his options with his parents, who are in town for the event.

“I am basically going to ask them which coach they have the best relationship with,” Quick said. “There has to be a relationship with the head coach and family as well.”

When asked if there was a head coach among his finalists that was stood out to him the most, he said no. But Louisville coach Charlie Strong and his tendency of playing freshmen is intriguing to him and is one of the main reasons that Louisville is in the mix.

The sales pitch for all of them is pretty much the same: Join our program, and early playing time will likely be there.

“They are all basically saying that I am going to get early playing time. Some are saying that I am going to get the ball more than others,” he said. “It’s all about early playing time, really.”

Quick has taken official visits to Louisville and Ohio State. He wasn’t able to make it to Oregon for an unofficial visit but has the Ducks squarely in the mix because of his relationship with the coaching staff.

“I have built a good relationship with their coaches and the offense that they run. It’s up-tempo, which really excites a player of my caliber,” he said.

Newsmaker: Last week, offensive tackle Jake Campos (West Des Moines, Iowa/Valley) wasn’t expecting to play football over his break. On Tuesday, he was preparing for a nationally televised appearance in a U.S. Army All-American Bowl uniform.

Campos, a three-star Iowa State commit, was called Sunday afternoon as a replacement for injured lineman Chris Fox (Parker, Colo./Ponderosa). By 6 a.m. Monday, he was on a flight to San Antonio. At the end of Tuesday, he was fully taking on the responsibility of fending off stud defensive linemen such as Eddie Vanderdoes (Auburn, Calif./Placer), Justin Manning (Dallas/Kimball) and A’Shawn Robinson (Fort Worth, Texas/Arlington Heights).

“I was shocked at first, but then, I got really excited,” said Campos, a 6-7, 250-pound tackle who said he’s “110-percent committed” to Iowa State.

“It was so out of the blue, but it’s great to be here. At first, learning the plays was tough, but I got those down now. I’m just adjusting to right tackle. I was still working the kinks out, that’s all.”

Superlatives: The East defensive line really stepped up in afternoon practice during 11-on-11 action. Alabama defensive end commit Jonathan Allen (Ashburn, Va./Stone Bridge) was unstoppable. Virginia Tech defensive end commit Wyatt Teller (Bealeton, Va./Liberty) also stepped up his game from Monday, intercepting a pass in the morning session from Auburn-bound quarterback Jeremy Johnson (Montgomery, Ala./Carver) and playing even better in the afternoon. … The best hands on the West team may not be on a wide receiver. ESPN 150 tight end DeSean Smith (Lake Charles, La./Barbe) made some great catches on Monday, and he continued to shine on Tuesday. Smith an LSU commitment, is the No. 5 tight end in the country. … The catch of the day from the East goes to ESPN 300 athlete Tyler Boyd (Clairton, Pa./Clairton), who ripped a ball away from Florida defensive back commitment Nick Washington (Jacksonville, Fla./Trinity Christian). An uncommitted, four-star athlete, Boyd is expected to announce his college future on Saturday. … ESPN 150 running back Derrick Green (Richmond, Va./Hermitage) continued to be the best running back for the East. He shined in the early morning practice, with help from a very good offensive line.


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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.

Weekend Rewind: Texas A&M 

December, 10, 2012
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It was actually before the weekend began that Texas A&M got its most significant recruiting news that Aggies' fans are still buzzing about as Thursday brought the commitment of ESPN 150 defensive tackle Justin Manning.

The No. 8 tackle in the nation and the No. 88 player in the ESPN 150, Manning's acquisition was significant, especially considering that he is ranked as the top defensive tackle in Texas. It's a need position for the Aggies and with Manning on board, they now have five commitments at the position.

Thursday was also the day that ESPN 150 athlete Ricky Seals-Jones finalized his announcement date, which is Monday. Texas A&M fans are expecting good news when he reveals his choice to the world.

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Defensive tackle was an area of need for Texas A&M in its 2013 class, but the Aggies now have verbals from a handful of prospects at the position.

Earlier in the process, Texas A&M did a nice job of addressing the spot with pick-ups like the promising Isaiah Golden (Carthage, Texas/Carthage) and Kerrick Huggins (Dallas/Skyline), but Thursday the Aggies made arguably their biggest pick-up at the position.

In what can be considered a bit of an upset, the Aggies landed a verbal from in-state D-Tackle Justin Manning (Dallas/Kimball), and he really strengthens what was already a pretty good haul.

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DT Justin Manning commits to Texas A&M

December, 6, 2012
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Justin ManningDamon Sayles/ESPN.comESPN 150 prospect Justin Manning is Texas A&M's fifth defensive tackle commit for the Class of 2013.
DALLAS -- With one declaration, ESPN 150 defensive tackle Justin Manning (Dallas/Kimball) did more than verbally commit.

He officially became his own identity -- and decided against continuing a legacy.

The Kimball High School auditorium in Dallas’ Oak Cliff community erupted as Manning, one of the nation’s best defensive players, announced to family, friends and school representatives that he would play college football at Texas A&M. With the move, Manning became the Aggies’ 33rd overall commit of the 2013 recruiting class and the fifth defensive tackle of the class to give his pledge.

Ranked No. 88 in the ESPN 150, Manning chose Texas A&M over Oklahoma and TCU. Manning, recruited by wide receivers coach David Beaty, chose against following the footsteps of his older brother, DeMarcus Granger, a former Kimball star who played on Oklahoma’s defensive line from 2006-09.

“I can trust [A&M], and I feel like it’ll be a challenge,” Manning said. “I feel like I’m challenging myself to be better.

“Oklahoma has been my dream school since Day 1. The only doubts I had about them was when I arrived, would I feel too comfortable?”

Manning has gone on the record several times to discuss how difficult his process was. All three schools were very much alive in the race, but he said the decision ultimately came down to trust and potential success. The Aggies, under coach Kevin Sumlin and led by quarterback Johnny Manziel, have been outstanding in their first year in the SEC.

What added to Manning’s decision is how this year’s team is relatively young on both sides of the ball. Manziel is a redshirt freshman. One of the Aggies’ primary defensive players, defensive lineman Damontre Moore, is a junior.

“They have a lot of talent there, and I feel like I can get a national championship at least three years,” Manning said. “I’ve gone through my high school career trying to get to state, and when I think about it, it’s almost impossible to get to state if you don’t have talent at each position.”

Manning thanked the coaching staffs at Oklahoma and TCU for recruiting him and expects big things from both programs in the future. Oklahoma is an established Big 12 competitor that is in the running for a conference title every year. TCU has established itself as a Big 12 power in its first year.

“It was close; it was always close,” Manning said. “With TCU, it’s just a great school. The thing that stuck out is [cornerbacks] Coach [Clay] Jennings. Just the way he is, I feel like I’m back at high school with them. It’s a comfortable feeling.”

For Manning, the most comfort, however, relies in College Station, Texas. He expects to come in and be an immediate impact player for a program he has high expectations for.

“Bring your popcorn,” he said. “You’ll see.”

Weekend Rewind: Oklahoma 

December, 3, 2012
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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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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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Justin Manning confirms decision date 

November, 28, 2012
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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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SEC success opening doors for Aggies 

November, 21, 2012
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There's one thing that's clear about Texas A&M's quick success in its first Southeastern Conference season. It has gotten the attention of recruits.

The Aggies already had 28 commitments before the season started but have added three 2013 commitments plus a 2014 commitment.

[+] EnlargeKenny Flowers
Courtesy of Hutchinson C.C.Juco linebacker Kenny Flowers is Texas A&M's only commitment since the season began.
Mesquite (Texas) West Mesquite safety Kameron Miles, a 2013 prospect who on Wednesday decommitted from Tennessee and switched his commitment from Texas A&M that night, was the first pledge the Aggies have landed since their landmark victory over then-No. 1 Alabama. Four days later, they added City College of San Francisco offensive tackle Jeremiah Stuckey.

Even before that win, he was already having positive feelings about the Aggies, who offered him a little more than a week ago, because of their success. But the Alabama win certainly sent a message about how competitive the Aggies are in their first year in the league and will be in the future.

"I've been watching them since their close game against LSU and now beating Alabama," Miles said after committing to the Aggies. "For a school to be that successful in their first year in the SEC, that's an accomplishment. That really impressed me."

The Aggies have picked up two other commitments since the season began -- Stuckey and Hutchinson (Kan.) Community College linebacker Kenny Flowers who committed on Nov. 2. And they've remained in the hunt for several of their top remaining targets, including ESPN 150 members Ricky Seals-Jones, Justin Manning, Mike Mitchell and Isaac Savaiinaea. While the Aggies have made their impressions on each of those young men when they visited College Station, Texas, there's no doubt the on-field success has only helped their recruiting efforts.

"They're probably going to win Texas now," said Seals-Jones' father, Chester Jones, of the Aggies' momentum. "In the recruiting wars in the next four-to-five years, they'll probably be the top recruiting college in the state of Texas."


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OU hasn't made big impression on trail 

November, 21, 2012
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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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