4-star defensive tackle Justin Manning has set a date for the decision between the final three schools on his interest list—Oklahoma, Texas A&M and TCU. Damon Sayles of ESPN.com reports that the announcement will come on December 7th.
While all three programs are great options, Oklahoma is the best fit, and that should help the Sooners land his commitment.
Manning is 6'3'', 275 pounds and runs a 5.0 40, according to 247Sports. So it's easy to see that he would fit with all three programs from a football standpoint. He has the size and speed to make an impact on any defensive line.
Also, as the No. 5-ranked defensive tackle in the country, according to the 247Sports composite rankings, he'll be talented enough to compete for time.
As far as program success is concerned, Manning has three great options on the table. Oklahoma is a traditional powerhouse in college football, TCU has had a ton of success the past few years and Texas A&M has become one of the hottest programs in the nation after its move to the SEC and subsequent win over then-No. 1 Alabama.
Sayles gives us some insight via his report on ESPN.com:
Manning, No. 88 in the ESPN 150, has said on multiple occasions that the winning school will be decided by how comfortable he feels at a program and by how trusting the members of the coaching staff are. Manning, a four-star athlete, is ranked No. 8 among defensive tackles and No. 12 among players in Texas in the Class of 2013.
Sayles also brings up the fact that Manning is the brother of former Sooners lineman DeMarcus Granger. This is where Oklahoma will find itself with the clear advantage.
If feeling comfortable with a program is one of Manning's main factors, what better connection is there than having a family member be a former player of said program?
Oftentimes, a football team or program can be so close that it's almost like a family, and a lot of that is done intentionally by the coaching staff and athletic department. Not only do the players feel like they are something bigger than them, but that connection oftentimes is extended to family and close friends that are important to the player.
This is a bit of a speculation (thus is the nature of college football recruiting), but I can only imagine that Manning felt a little bit of pride whenever the Sooners won a big game or his brother made a big play. That relationship should provide a special connection with Oklahoma that he wouldn't have with the Aggies or TCU.
There's also the fact that if he wanted to know about the staff and how "trusting" they are, all he has to do is ask his older brother and I'm sure he'd get the scoop. The fact that he has Oklahoma in his top three this far into the process should point to the trust factor being there, considering that if there was a reason not to trust, he would have most likely heard it by now.
Also, consider that Bob Stoops has been the head coach of the Sooners since 1999. So if Manning puts any of his trust in consistency at the head coaching position, Oklahoma should be looking very good.
Finally, as if that weren't enough, out of the four defensive tackles listed on Oklahoma's depth chart, three of them are seniors, which means Manning would have the chance to move up the Sooners depth chart extremely fast—and that's that's a huge plus in their favor.
Texas A&M or TCU would be great options for the 4-star defensive tackle, but Oklahoma would provide him with the best fit. He's got a connection to the program through is brother, there's consistency at the head coaching position and Oklahoma has a very favorable depth chart for defensive linemen.