Oklahoma Football Recruiting: Why Sooners Need to Draw in Justin Manning
Justin Manning is one of the best defensive tackle prospects in the nation. Bob Stoops and his Oklahoma football team need to add some talented DT's.
Seems like a great fit right?
About a year ago Manning thought so too. The brother of former Sooner DeMarcus Granger, Manning had Oklahoma at the top of his list. It looked to be a lock that he’d end up in Norman.
However, Oklahoma did not start recruiting Manning until very late into the process, well after he had received offers from a number of rival schools.
This lack of attention irked Manning, so he opened up his recruitment to a number of other universities.
Oklahoma must overcome this, and ensure that this behemoth DT ends up on campus.
It is a necessity that they reel in a defensive tackle like Manning, and at this point he’d become a statement prospect for the school.
So, here are a few reasons why it's essential that Oklahoma lands the Dallas native.
After This Season Oklahoma Will Be Very Thin at DT
In a somewhat questionable move, Oklahoma didn’t sign a single defensive tackle in the 2012 recruiting class.
This was an odd decision to Sooner's fans, because both their projected starters, Jamarkus McFarland and Casey Walker, are seniors, as is their reliable backup, Stacy McGee.
Behind that group there are a number of unproven freshmen and sophomores, and none have seen any significant playing time.
With such a distinguished group of seniors leaving campus after this season, wooing a number of talented defensive tackle prospects is a priority.
Oklahoma runs a 4-3 scheme, and in that set it is essential to have a pair of impact DT's.
They eat up blockers and allow the defensive ends to garner one-on-one matchups, and in the run game they are the first line of defense.
Manning would be an impact player for the Sooners. With Oklahoma's glaring need at defensive tackle, pushing for Manning should be a no-brainier.
Manning Is a Perfect Fit for the System
Manning is far-and-away the top defensive tackle prospect in Texas, and that's saying something.
The Lone Star State consistently produces some of the top talent in the country, and Manning is one of the best in his class.
More importantly however, he would provide an instant boost up the middle for Oklahoma.
He has great size for his position at 6'2", and still has a lot of room to bulk-up and add strength to his 275-pound frame.
Manning excels at filling up gaps and stopping the run, but what really separates him from other DT's is his ability to put pressure on the quarterback.
He is a great athlete for his size and explodes up the field to rush the passer.
This is a rare ability for a defensive tackle, and Oklahoma would do well to ensure that he's causing havoc in Big 12 backfields for them.
Oklahoma Must Win Recruiting Battles with Texas and Oklahoma State
In June, Manning narrowed down his dance card to eight schools via twitter. Listing TCU, OU, Texas A&M, USC, Oklahoma State, Arkansas and Texas in no particular order.
This list is essentially a who's who of the top schools in the mid-South.
However, like it always seems to, it will most likely come down to Texas and Oklahoma for this stud. Though, Oklahoma's in-state rival, Oklahoma State, shouldn't be discounted.
These kind of recruiting battles are important for each school.
They help establish a pecking order, and it's always important for OU and Texas to stay one step ahead of the other.
The Longhorns want to protect their home-state turf, and Oklahoma wants to continue to show that they can recruit just as well as Texas—even in the Lone Star State.
Players like Manning help establish a trend, and Oklahoma needs to ink him if they want to make it a positive one.
Mannings Decison Will Make a Statement for Other Recruits
It says a lot when an Oklahoma legacy isn't an automatic commitment.
Manning felt slighted by Stoops and his staff when they didn't start recruiting him until late into his junior year. By that time he already had multiple offers from other top-flight schools, so he decided to open up his recruiting process.
This shouldn't have happened.
Manning wanted to be a Sooner, and Oklahoma needed him to be.
However, Stoops butchered the opportunity, and now they must compete with a number of other universities for him.
This isn't good for Oklahoma's 2013 class and beyond.
Players pay attention to how others are treated, and if it becomes a perception that OU doesn't take care of its own, they will lose out on recruits.
This might not be fair to the coaching staff—they could have had a genuine reason for waiting to pursue Manning. But that's how other players will perceive this situation.
For Oklahoma, Manning is so much more than one 4-star DT. His decision will be a statement, a testament to how Oklahoma deals with recruits and treats family.
According to Manning, there is still a great chance he ends up in Norman.
"For me going to Oklahoma, it used to be that way, but not now," Manning said. "Now I've opened things up and I'm considering all the schools and a few others in my top eight. I do like OU a lot but to say I'm a lock to go there isn't true."
For Oklahoma's sake, they better hope he becomes a lock once again.