By JOHN SHINN
Defensive tackle is a big need in Oklahoma’s 2013 recruiting class. The void continued after Dallas Kimball defensive tackle Justin Manning gave his verbal pledge to Texas A&M over Oklahoma on Thursday.
Manning’s decision is a mammoth recruiting letdown for the Sooners. The 6-3, 275-pound defensive tackle is the younger brother of former Sooner defensive tackle DeMarcus Granger and one of the best defensive tackles in the country, according to every major recruiting service.
Rivals has Manning as the No. 6 defensive tackle in the country. Scout has him at No. 7. ESPN placed Manning at No. 8.
The Sooners are in need of defensive tackles because seniors Casey Walker, Jamarkus McFarland and Stacy McGee will all play their final collegiate game when OU faces Texas A&M in the AT&T Cotton Bowl on Jan. 4.
Freshman Jordan Phillips has played extensively this season, but Marquis Anderson, Jordan Wade and sophomores Torrea Peterson and Damon Williams played sparingly if it all. Only Williams got on the field this season.
The Sooners still don’t have a defensive tackle among the 15 players committed for the 2013 recruiting class. They do have defensive ends Dalton Rodriguez (Tulsa Union), Matt Dimon (Katy, Texas), and D.J. Ward, who entered his senior season as a four-star recruit at Lawton, but didn’t play after he transferred to Oklahoma City Douglass and then Southmoore.
National Signing Day is Feb. 6.