Tennessee head coach Jeremy Pruitt is hoping to reel in one of the remaining 5-star recruits on Wednesday
With the introduction of the early signing period for college football, much of the anticipation of National Signing Day has subsided with high-profile programs now locking in top recruits as early as December. Yet, not every team fanatic and college football staff member needs to start praying to Saint Jude for help. There are still several quality players left, especially in the 4-star ranks, which could make for an interesting end to the 2019 recruiting cycle, and there always seems to be a top player or two who flips at the last minute before putting ink to paper on a national letter of intent.
With National Signing Day looming on Wednesday, much of the college football programs with a top-10 recruiting class appear set or maybe have room for one or two more signees. Per 247Sports, Alabama is in line yet again to land the No. 1 class in the nation, followed Georgia, Texas, Texas A&M, and Oklahoma. The back end of the top 10 has seen some movement since the early signing period with LSU (from fourth to sixth), Oregon (fifth to eighth), and Clemson (sixth to ninth) all dropping a couple of spots. Penn State has made a late push over the last few weeks, climbing from No. 13 to No. 10. With a few of the top-rated recruits still out there it adds to the intrigue for this week.
Any additional movement in the rankings will probably need to involve adding one of the top two remaining five-star recruits. So which programs are still in the running for the best players that haven't announced their decision?
Class of 2019 Top Uncommitted Recruits
OT Darnell Wright (6-6, 315)
5-Star, Huntington (Huntington, W.Va.)
Wright is the ideal offensive lineman with size, quickness, strength, and upside. His size allows for versatility to line up outside or inside, but he projects as a cornerstone left tackle. College teams from across the country have fallen for Wright, who has 23 reported offers.
Contenders: Based on his visit list, Tennessee, Alabama, Penn State, and West Virginia are in the running with the Volunteers appearing to lead the way. Wright is ranked 10th overall in the 2019 class and is second among offensive tackles. His addition can take a good class to great.
RB Jerrion Ealy (5-10, 200)
5-Star, Jackson Prep (Flowood, Miss.)
What once looked like a lock on the recruiting trail opened up on Jan. 8, leaving a few teams scrambling for a chance at a big-time talent. Darnell Wright was the last unsigned or uncommitted 5-star until Jerrion Ealy decided to back off his Dec. 15, 2017 verbal to Ole Miss.
Contenders: The Rebels still appear to be in the running, but official visits took place at Mississippi State, Clemson, and Alabama over the weekend. Even though Alabama has 28 commitments, the Crimson Tide are taking a run at bolstering their class even more with Ealy. Ealy’s Jackson Prep squad won a MAIS 4A state title in 2018, taking down Madison-Ridgeland Academy 33-27. For those keeping track, that is four consecutive state titles with Ealy in the backfield.
Prediction: Ole Miss because Alabama can only sign so many guys before someone is asked to grey-shirt
LB Henry To’oto’o (6-2, 230)
4-star De La Salle (Concord, Calif.)
De La Salle High School is a national powerhouse routinely making it to the California state title game out of the northern section. The Spartans were beasts on the field again in 2018 with an end-of-season No. 4 national ranking by MaxPreps after going undefeated until colliding with eventual national champs Mater Dei in the title game. To'oto'o was the Spartans' defensive anchor, as the team gave up just 11 points per game during its run to the state title game.
Contenders: The third-best outside linebacker in the 2019 class has 19 reported offers but the headliners appear to be Tennessee, Washington, Utah, and Alabama. After officially visiting Alabama on Jan. 25, head coach Nick Saban made the journey to Concord for an in-home visit.
DT Ishmael Sopsher (6-3.5, 334)
4-star Amite High School (Amite, La.)
Amite High School won a Louisiana 2A championship during the 2018 season, allowing just 114 points in 16 games. Sopsher's part in that and his work on the field has resulted in 22 offers for the Under Armour All-American.
Contenders: While the consensus may be that he will end up with LSU, Ole Miss, Alabama, and Texas A&M are fighting for his signature on their national letter of intent. The Tigers hosted Sopsher on Feb. 1 giving them the last shot at impressing the in-state standout.
CB Kaiir Elam (6-1, 182)
4-star Benjamin School (North Palm Beach, Fla.)
Elam is the last of the top 50 players in the nation who remains unsigned or uncommitted, and he might be the most heavily sought after in the group.
Contenders: With 41 offers, Colorado, Georgia, Miami, and Florida are doing their best to land one of the nation’s top corners. Due to proximity, the Hurricanes' new coaching staff has made repeated visits with Elam hoping to sway his decision.
Top 100 Recruits Remaining
Only two players in the bottom half of the top 100 are uncommitted — 4-star defensive end Charles Moore (Louisville, Miss.) and 4-star athlete Mark-Anthony Richards (West Palm Beach, Fla.). Miami has to feel good about their chances to sign Richards as a legacy recruit, but that is not stopping Florida and Georgia from trying to land the 6-foot-1, 195-pound playmaker. Moore’s recruitment was limited after an early verbal commitment to Mississippi State back in August 2017. But the 6-foot-four, 268-pound strong-side end decommitted back on Jan. 7. Official visits have been taken to Auburn, Florida, Florida State, and LSU within the past couple of days.
Charles Moore prediction: LSU
Mark-Anthony Richards prediction: Miami
— Written by Ryan Wright, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network and an established media professional with more than two decades' worth of experience and is a member of the FWAA. Over the years, Wright has written for numerous sites and publications and has his own recruiting site, www.recruitingnewsguru.com. Follow him on Twitter @RyanWrightRNG.