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December 6, 2012TweetFollow @JLMcCuistion
So Sooner fans are expecting someone to tell them that all is right in Camelot, to talk fans off the ledge and explain how it's all going to be ok.
Well, maybe I will, but first, let's put into perspective where things stand right now. Justin Manning's decision wasn't simply a loss of a quality talent, it wasn't simply the loss of a Sooner legacy, it was a loss at a position of huge need.
Oklahoma has five defensive tackles set to return and only one of those with real playing experience two of the remaining four seem either passed over or are debatably in place to remain a member of the team.
Simply put, Oklahoma has a serious need.
The thing that people are getting too forgetful of is the reality that any championship caliber defense, Manning isn't yet ready to help. Like most interior linemen he needs at least a year to redshirt and grow into the college game as he continues to learn proper hand placement, foot work, leverage, and many more of the basic tenets of the position.
That's not to say Manning wasn't a potentially key piece of the class, he just isn't the type of player to be prepared to fix what ailed Oklahoma's run defense.
So that begs the question - what can Oklahoma do now at defensive tackle, and can any of them offer immediate help?
For immediate help it's tough to start anywhere other than the junior college ranks where Oklahoma has offers out to Hutchinson (Kan.) C.C. four-star defensive tackles Ben Bradley and Toby Johnson. Johnson, though he can't help immediately due to an ACL tear suffered this season, is one of the nation's elite junior college prospects and could make his way to Norman with his roommate and good friend Bradley to follow up on his own official visit several months ago.
Joining the two Hutchinson products on Oklahoma's offer list is Athens (Texas) Trinity Valley C.C. three-star, and former Texas signee Quincy Russell. The 6-foot-3, 311-pound Russell took an official visit to Norman for the Oklahoma State game and came away impressed but many have felt for some time that Nebraska may be the leader for his signature.
Though they, like Manning, don't figure ready to make the impact Oklahoma seems to need at defensive tackle there are still some high school prospects who could potentially fill the void left by Manning's decision to further his career in College Station.
Leading the way is probably Miami (Fla.) University school three-star Maquedius Bain. The 6-foot-3, 308-pound prospect visited Norman for the Oklahoma State weekend but has said little of the trip since. It does seem the Sooners are in good standing for him but it would seem Oklahoma needs more than just one defensive tackle.
Notably the Sooners are still in pursuit of Bain's fellow Miami area defensive tackle, Keith Bryant, who decommitted from Miami this week. Bryant's family seems to want him farther away from Miami and though he is currently high on Florida State it's a situation that could pan out for the Sooners if they remain in his recruitment and can get a visit either on Dec. 14 or in the final weekends of January.
The final piece of the puzzle is Oklahoma's most recent offer at the position, Shaker Heights, Ohio three-star Donovan Munger. The interesting aspect for Munger is that the Sooners are, as admitted by him, are truly the only school recruiting him at defensive tackle while most of his other leaders, notably Ohio State, like him as an interior offensive lineman. Often this works as an advantage for the school giving a big guy the chance to play on the defensive side - it's a longshot for Oklahoma but perhaps this could provide an edge.