Defensive tackle a priority for OU in '13

When Oklahoma signed just one defensive tackle for the Class of 2012 -- Jordan Wade, originally a 2011 commitment who didn't qualify -- there wasn't panic. The rationale was the Sooners were loaded at the spot and some of the younger players would emerge.

One-fourth of the way through the 2012 season and nobody has emerged among that younger group. And OU is still without a defensive tackle commit.

It it time to panic for OU fans? No, not yet. The Sooners might still be waiting on that first pledge but that doesn’t mean defensive tackles coach Jackie Shipp isn’t doing his job.

With four months until national signing day, here is a look at five realistic defensive tackle targets for OU’s 2013 class:

Josh Augusta

Peoria, Ill./Peoria, 6-4, 275, No. 12 DT

Augusta’s situation gets more interesting with each week. OU was among the first teams to show interest in him back in the spring. The Sooners were targeting Augusta at defensive end. And as of last report, that was still the case. But the more things shake out with other prospects, Augusta might be a good fit at defensive tackle.

In the summer, Augusta expressed a strong interest in staying close to home. However, recently he said the Sooners are back among his favorites.

Enough to get a visit? That will be the deciding factor. If OU cannot get Augusta to Norman, the Sooners won’t have a realistic shot of pulling off this one for the 132nd-ranked prospect in the nation.

Maquedius Bain

Fort Lauderdale, Fla./University School, 6-5, 285, No. 6 DT

Bain, who is ranked No. 41 in the ESPN 150, is another example of the good work being done by the Sooners in the state of Florida. A one-time Florida State commit, Bain seems very open to of leaving the state for college.

The Sooners are on his short list, and he was hopeful to make an official visit last weekend for OU’s bye week. That didn’t happen, but it’s not an indicator that he has soured on OU.

It could turn out to be a blessing in disguise, too, as though a visit on a bye week might be a more realistic look at the campus, nothing can compare to a game day atmosphere. Win or lose, recruits are always high on what it’s like to be in Norman when the Sooners have a game.

Toby Johnson

Hutchinson, Kan./Hutchinson CC, 6-4, 290, NR

Johnson has made two trips to OU in the last two months. No matter how you try to spin him saying earlier he would like to play in the SEC, two trips in two months is a great sign for the Sooners. He made an official visit last week and is still sorting out where the rest of his official visits are going to be. The only other one locked down is Georgia, where he went to high school.

Helping OU out in the sweepstakes for Johnson has been the relationship between the junior college prospect and Shipp. Johnson believes he has made a lifelong friend with Shipp regardless of what school he ends up attending.

Seeing OU struggle against KSU’s run game can actually be viewed as a positive. Johnson isn’t looking to mess around. He wants to play right away. At OU, there's a strong chance he would get that shot.

Justin Manning

Dallas/Kimball, 6-2, 275, No. 8 DT

Like Johnson, Manning was on his official visit to OU last weekend. He was at Texas A&M recently and is looking at trips to TCU and LSU before wrapping up his recruitment.

Manning, who is ranked No. 89 in the ESPN 150, has seen everything there is to see at OU during his recruitment and all the times he attended games when his older brother DeMarcus Granger was playing defensive tackle for the Sooners.

OU appears to be the favorite at this point.

Quincy Russell

Athens, Texas/Trinity Valley CC, 6-4, 308, NR

If Johnson is the No. 1 juco tackle target for OU, then Russell is not far behind. The irony for OU fans, of course, is that Russell originally signed to play for Texas until he was unable to qualify academically.

Russell has stated he would love to stay in the Big 12, and if playing time is an important factor in his decision, the Sooners are a good fit.

There haven’t been in-depth discussions on when he will take a visit to OU or even if he will visit the campus, but OU is definitely in the running as Russell has no clear-cut favorite.