The upcoming Cotton Bowl battle between Texas A&M and Oklahoma played out on the recruiting trail on Thursday, as 2013 Dallas (TX) Kimball defensive tackle
A consensus four-star prospect considered one of the top defensive tackles in the country, Manning had narrowed choices to Texas A&M, Oklahoma, and TCU in recent days. The 6-3, 275-pounder had held offers from many major programs, but LSU notably fell out of the race after taking two defensive tackle commitments in November.
Justin Manning discusses commitment (via Taylor Hamm)
On the surface, a victory for the Aggies on the recruiting trail is hardly uncommon these days. What was surprising about the decision was how the Sooners managed to lose out on a player whose older brother Demarcus Granger played at Oklahoma and appeared to all but be a lock to end up in crimson and cream by the time his recruitment played out.
In that sense, the Sooners made a monumental mistake early in the process by assuming that Manning was an easy sell. Oklahoma was later than several other schools to extend an offer and it may have been the difference in his college choice.
It's also a major loss -- Oklahoma does not yet have a single defensive tackle commit, but will lose three seniors from the 2012 team. The position will remain a major need.
Sooners analysts like Bob Przybylo of Sooner Nation agree that it was a significant defeat for Bob Stoops and company ($):
Other recruits going elsewhere were disappointments -- this is a gut-punch for the fan base. Maybe the ultimate gut-punch and a sign of just how the stock of the Aggies has never been higher, while the Sooners' stock has stagnated.
Maybe it wasn't about the failings of Oklahoma as much as it was about the job that Texas A&M did recruiting Manning and establishing a trust and comfort level that the Kimball product maintained all along was the biggest factor in his decision.
To that end, two Texas A&M coaches had stopped by the school on Thursday prior to Manning's announcement.
Now the 33rd commitment in the 2013 Texas A&M class, Manning will join an impressive group of defensive tackles that includes Carthage (TX)'s Isaiah Golden, Dallas (TX) Skyline's Kerrick Huggins, and Houston (TX) Westfield's Hardreck Walker.
If recruiting success sometimes depends on a positive feedback loop reinforcing itself, the Aggies are certainly benefiting from that right now.