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March 6, 2012
Sooners and Manning Clear the Air
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Even though there was a commitment over the weekend any Sooner recruiting news would be tough to rival the offer of Rivals100 defensive tackle Justin Manning. The 6-foot-3, 275-pound young brother of former Sooner run-stuffer Demarcus Granger had previously picked up offers from Texas, LSU, Michigan, Kansas State, Miami, Tennessee, and USC among a lengthy list of others.
However, for some time now people wondered why the Sooners had been hesitant when other programs had not.
The issue was presumed to be ready to be remedied at Oklahoma's first junior day on Feb. 4, however when Manning had to scrap his plan to attend at the last moment the possibility of an offer was further delayed because of the Sooners plans to make his offer in person.
The chance to do so was made possible when Granger picked up his younger brother and brought him to Norman for last weekend's junior day. Though Manning says he was not aware of the plan, it's a rumor he'd heard and something that was echoed by Bob Stoops on Saturday.
"It feels good to finally get it, I guess it was worth waiting for," Manning said.
"Coach Stoops said they wanted to do it face to face and wanted to make sure my grades were right. I liked that part of the visit a lot."
So did the delay of an offer bother him, or is it all now water under the bridge?
"I still am kind of thinking through it," he admitted.
Manning's brother, a five-star defensive tackle recruit in the class of 2005, was recruited and coached by the same position coach, Jackie Shipp, who is currently handling his own recruitment.
Over the weekend the two got the chance to continue to know themselves as more than the brother, or coach, of Granger.
"Coach Shipp said he wasn't trying to get me there to see the campus, I was there to get an offer," Manning explained. "Actually I was with coach Shipp almost the whole day."
Much has been made of Manning's grades but as a player who has been on the recruiting radar since early in his sophomore year it's hard to imagine him falling too far behind.
"My grades, it's always a big deal, but my grades are fine now," he said.
Even more than his grades people have wondered whether a Sooner offer would mean the end of his recruitment but according to the nation's No. 89 overall player nothing of the sort will be happening. In fact, he says he is still learning about all of the schools involved in his recruitment.
"I try not to focus on anyone too much, I want to try and get things right first before I'm trying to compare. I know my decision is a big deal regardless, but I'm trying not to think about it too much just yet," he said.
"I'm going to take all my visits and I think I'll have my decision by December."
Manning says he hopes to get to LSU in the near future but admits that while he and Oklahoma are still playing a bit of catch up there is one thing he left Norman certain of.
"It's a good fit, I know that," Manning stated. "But like I said, I try not to think too hard on it, I feel like one day I'm going to wake up and know where I want to go."