Sooners' top Texas targets for 2013
Oklahoma is in great position with junior prospects DT Justin Manning, RB Keith Ford
NORMAN, Okla. -- Oklahoma has broadened its horizons on the recruiting trail. States such as Arizona, California and Ohio are in play like never before with the addition of defensive coaches Mike Stoops and Tim Kish.
On the surface, it has appeared that the newfound interest in some of those states has come at the expense of OU still being a major player in Texas.
Through the first real month of 2013 recruiting, the Longhorns are a perfect 7-for-7 in head-to-head battles against OU. But as Texas most likely elects to slow it down, OU is about to ramp it up.
Here are five of OU's top targets in Texas for 2013:
George Baltimore (Mansfield, Texas/Mansfield, Safety, 5-foot-11, 195 pounds)
Offers: Baylor, Texas Tech and Michigan State
After having a photo of himself in an OU uniform as his Twitter avatar the last three weeks, he switched it to one of him wearing TCU gloves this weekend. He took an unofficial visit to TCU last weekend.
He was invited to Texas' junior day last weekend but opted not to attend, which should be considered a good sign for OU fans. If the Sooners opt to make a run at Baltimore, he could be the first safety in the 2013 class.
Also, be on the watch for cornerback Maurice Smith (Sugar Land, Texas/Dulles). Already with an OU offer, Smith will see the campus this weekend, too.
Keith Ford (Cypress, Texas/Ranch, RB, 5-10, 200)
Offers: OU, Florida State, Northwestern, Notre Dame, Michigan, North Carolina, Oklahoma State, Baylor, Texas A&M, Utah, Wisconsin, Alabama and Texas Tech.
With OU most likely targeting two running backs for the class of 2013, Ford would be a heck of a way to start things out. Ford, not originally from Texas, doesn't have that connection to the Longhorns.
He has listed OU in his top five and will be at junior day on March 3. His high school coach Gene Johnson said Ford has been high on the Sooners for a long time, so it didn't shock him to hear OU make the cut.
A junior day commitment is not out of the realm of possibility, but it would have to be a perfect visit where everything falls into place.
Darius James (Harker Heights, Texas/Harker Heights, OL, 6-5, 320)
Offers: OU, LSU, Tulsa, Baylor, Texas A&M, Texas, Mississippi State.
Here is one Texas offer that is still on the board. Most expected Texas to offer James and teammate Naashon Hughes. However, Hughes still doesn't have an offer from the Longhorns, which could change things with James, as well.
James and Hughes both have been invited to Saturday's junior day. James said the Sooners are looking at him on the offensive side of the ball.
With OU missing out on Texas high school linemen Jake Raulerson (Celina, Texas/Celina), A'Shawn Robinson (Fort Worth, Texas/Arlington Heights), J.J. Gustafson (Dallas/Jesuit) and Kent Perkins (Dallas/Lake Highlands), James is one of the few remaining top regional offensive linemen worth pursuing for the Sooners.
Quan Jones (Wylie, Texas/East, WR, 6-4, 192)
Offers: Arizona, Iowa State, Ole Miss, Baylor, Virginia, Washington State, Mississippi State, Purdue, Tennessee and Texas Tech.
Jones has camped at OU, has seen the Sooners play and clearly is interested. He was supposed to be at the Feb. 4 junior day but said he is definitely not missing Saturday's event.
He will be joined by fellow ESPNU 150 Watch List member teammate WR Marcell Ateman.
Justin Manning (Dallas/Kimball, DT, 6-2, 275)
Offers: Arizona, UCLA, USC, Michigan, Ole Miss, North Carolina, Oregon State, Baylor, Texas A&M, Texas, Kansas State, Miami (Fla.), Purdue, TCU, Tennessee and Texas Tech.
One of the biggest questions of this early recruiting period has been why Manning doesn't have an OU offer yet. That should change this weekend when Manning is in town for junior day.
Everything is lining up for OU and Manning, the younger brother of former OU star DeMarcus Granger. He is the No. 1 target for Texas at defensive tackle, but the Sooners have the inside track should junior day be a success.
Bob Przybylo covers football and basketball recruiting for SoonerNation. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.