via a.espncdn.com Could DT Justin Manning commit to OU this weekend?
It's going to be a big weekend for the Oklahoma Sooners football team as they are both preparing to start spring practice on Monday as well as hosting their second Junior Day. It might be an even bigger weekend for OU fans as well, but will it be big in a good or bady way? Oklahoma fans have been patient, but if this weekend's Junior Day doesn't produce at least one verbal commitment that patience may not last much longer. We've had to sit and watch schools both near and far reel in multiple commitments while our beloved Sooners remained empty handed.
While JD1 was relatively successful, it has yet to yield the Sooners a verbal commitment for 2013. So goal #1 for this weekend, at least for OU fans anyway, is to get that first 2013 verbal under their belt.
As you'd expect with a program the caliber of Oklahoma, there will be no shortage of talent in Norman this weekend. Several of the Sooners top targets are expected to be in attendance and while the OU coaches have a well earned reputation for not pressuring kids into commitments, the fans will certainly be feeling (applying?) the pressure to turn this weekend into a successful one. Which knowing OU fans would mean no less than two commitments. As frustrating as it may be for some, we'll just have to wait and see how the weekend plays out, but most are confident that is a reasonable expectation.
After the jump, we'll get into the players expected to be in Norman this weekend. However before we do that we have to again remind you that things can change very quickly in recruiting. Plans change frequently and that kind of news doesn't always get out there quickly or maybe at all. So there is always a chance that all the names we're about to cover don't show up, just as there is always the chance that several nobody knows about surprise and show up in Norman this weekend. So with that qualifier, here are the players who are expected to make the trip for OU's JD2.
DT Justin Manning (Dallas, TX) VIDEO - If you spend any time here at CCM, there probably isn't much else we can tell you about Manning. He's the younger brother of former Sooner Demarcus Granger and arguably the top 2013 target on the Sooners recruiting board. It's hard to remember another player who has been talked about more amongst Sooner Nation that doesn't actually have an official offer yet. However that appears to be simply a technicality as he is almost assured of receiving that offer this weekend. Some potential very good news for OU fans came out earlier this week as Manning revealed through his Twitter account that he would be joined on the trip this weekend by his aforementioned big brother. If you're an optimist (which many here will tell you I'm definitely not), you would have to think that could bode well for the Sooners. If big bro is helping to sell Manning on OU, could a commitment be possible this weekend?
DE D.J. Ward (Lawton, OK) VIDEO - The #1 player for 2013 in the state of Oklahoma, the Sooners have made it very clear they don't intend to allow the state's top player to get away this year. They offered Ward earlier than they typically offer players and are excited to finally get him on campus in a more "official" setting (Ward has been to multiple OU games in the past). There has been some talk that a commitment is possible this weekend, but Ward has talked about taking his time and it won't be his first trip to OU so it's kind of difficult to see him get caught up in the moment and committing that way. Expect the coaches to do what they do, present their case and let OU sell itself.
OG Rob Boyd (Vian, OK) - Boyd is from a small Oklahoma town, so unfortunately it was difficult to find video (at least free video) of him. So you'll just have to take us at our word that he plays with a real mean streak and when we tell you he finishes his blocks, he REALLY finishes his blocks. He's stated that OU and Tulsa are his top two right now and after coming away very impressed from a Tulsa trip he took a couple weeks ago, it will be up the the OU coaches to do the same this weekend. The Sooners aren't likely to take more than a couple interior offensive linemen in this class, so it goes without saying they'd like one of those players to be the talented in-state product.
RB Keith Ford (Cypress, TX) VIDEO - As it stands today, Ford is the top rated running back in the state of Texas and the Longhorns have yet to really show interest. Is it a coincidence that their lack of interest is related to the fact that Ford originally grew up in Florida and thus wouldn't be an "easy" get for them because he didn't grow up dreaming of playing for UT? Maybe, but that's a little conspiracy theory for my taste. I'd prefer to think of it as Oklahoma being in on an incredibly talented back who by all accounts is as big a fan of theirs as they are of his. Ford is another player who many would not be stunned by were he to commit over the weekend or in the days after.
WR Marcell Ateman (Wylie, TX) - Ateman is a big kid (6'4") who effectively uses his size well against smaller high school defenders. He has been to Norman previously for football camps and drawn the eye of OU coaches for his performances. He doesn't have an offer yet from the Sooners, but that could certainly change this weekend.
WR Quan Jones (Wylie, TX) - In what can only be described as incredibly unfair by most if not all of their opponents, Jones and Ateman are actually teammates. That's right, dueling 6'4" targets on the outside which I'm sure has to intimidate other teams considerably. Like his teammate, Jones also does not have an offer from OU yet so it will be interesting to see if the Sooners are forced to choose between the two or if both eventually receive an offer.
LB T.J. Ponds (Wagoner, OK) VIDEO - It is understandable if some Oklahoma fans are a little wary of going back in on a star Wagoner player after their last experience. Kevin Peterson is the player we're referencing who committed to the Sooners last year only to switch shortly after to the cross state Cowboys. In spite of that poor experience, OU fans shouldn't let that could their judgment on Ponds who has been very vocal in his love for the Sooners. Based on some of his comments, he could easily be OU's first 2013 commitment if he were to receive an offer.
DE Dalton Rodriguez (Tulsa, OK) VIDEO - Rodriguez is another top in-state player, but contrary to what you might think many do not believe the Sooners chances are great with the Union product. Maybe the coaches can change their standing with him after an on-campus visit, but based on early reports they could be facing an uphill battle to do so.
DB Devanta Johnson (Tulsa, OK) VIDEO - If you're noticing a recurring theme here you're not crazy. There are a bunch of in-state kids expected in Norman this weekend and it's because this 2013 class appears to be an exceptionally good one for the state of Oklahoma. Johnson is another kid who could possibly commit with an offer.
DE Matt Dimon (Katy, TX) VIDEO - Dimon is another guy the OU coaches are high and and who has been very complimentary of the Sooners in interviews. Dimon does hold an offer from OU and has said he's excited to see the campus for the first time.
DE Jay Arnold (Rockwall, TX) VIDEO - Yet another d-end who will be in Norman this weekend. Arnold actually has a sister attending OU, so could that possibly give the Sooners a leg up for some of the Texas schools?
WR Ellis Jefferson (Denton, TX) - Another big receiver (6'4") as it would appear the Sooners clearly have an idea on the type of wide out they're looking for in 2013.
TE Jeremiah Gaines (Red Oak, TX) VIDEO - Gaines is an athletic guy that like a lot of TX h.s. tight ends spends a considerable amount of time split out.
CB Maurice Smith (Sugar Land, TX) VIDEO - Smith is another bigger (6'1") corner which seems to coincide with everything we've heard/read about what Mike Stoops is looking to do with his secondary.
LB Raaquan Davis (Rockwall, TX) VIDEO - Davis was originally supposed to be at Oklahoma's first Junior Day, but has to cancel at the last minute. He's said he is looking forward to the chance to get to know the OU coaching staff better.
DT Antonio McGhee (Bossier City, LA) VIDEO - A name that has only recently popped up, but a player at a much needed position for the Sooners. When I asked recruiting guru Josh McCuistion of SoonerScoop about him (name dropper, what!) he said "I really like him as a player. You can tell he's raw, but he's also got his best football ahead of him."
OT Dan Skipper (Arvada, CO) VIDEO - The 6'10", that's right I said 6'10", offensive tackle is a player at another position very much needed by the Sooners. Especially after missing out on nearly all their early offers at the position. Hard to say at this point how serious the interest is on OU's part, as I'd venture to guess this is as much a feeling out on both OU's and the player's part.
If anything changes or more names/news comes out, we'll try to keep you update here in the comments throughout the weekend. And I probably do a bad job of this, but if you have any recruiting questions please feel free to ask them in the comments or even email me and I'll do my best to try and answer them.