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Ten must-get prospects as National Signing Day nears

CLASS OF 2019 RANKINGS: Rivals250 | State | Position | Team

CLASS OF 2020 RANKINGS: Rivals250 | State | Position

George Pickens
George Pickens (Rivals.com)

MAKING THE CASE: Florida State or Maryland for Lance Legendre?

The Late Signing Period opens on Feb. 6 when programs across the country will be looking to add the final pieces of the 2019 recruiting picture. While 85 percent of the four and five-star prospects in the class signed during the Early Signing Period, some key targets still remain. The following 10 are must-gets for certain programs.

AUBURN

The top of the 2019 wide receiver rankings is as talented as the position has been in years, and Pickens was just edged out by fellow five-star Jadon Haselwood for No. 1 overall. The in-star product has been committed to Auburn since before his junior season, but did not sign in the Early Period. Georgia, LSU, Miami and Tennessee are trying to take him away from Auburn, and if they succeed it would be a big blow to Gus Malzahn and his staff.

FLORIDA STATE

Florida State used to make hay recruiting in the month of January, but there is no way Willie Taggart wanted to wait this long to add the most important position on the field to this 2019 class. The good news is a four-star option still exists, but the Seminoles must fend off Maryland and Tennessee down the stretch to land Legendre. A one-time Kansas commit, Legendre plans to announce his decision on National Signing Day.

LSU

Sopsher dropped from five-star status in the final update of the 2019 class rankings, but he remains in the Rivals100 and is a top target of several programs. Official visits were made to Alabama, LSU, Ole Miss, Oregon and Texas A&M, but this should come down to first two. LSU will never be able to eradicate Alabama’s recruiting efforts in its home-state, but every win it gets over the Crimson Tide strengthens their pull and a Sopsher win would be a clutch one.

MARYLAND

Maryland is not considered the favorite to land Cross, who is still committed to Florida State, but that does not make him any less of a must-get for the Terrapins. New head coach Mike Locksley signed just six in the Early Signing Period and hired Cross’ high school coach, Elijah Brooks, as an assistant coach last month. Florida State, Penn State and Georgia may all have a better shot here, but none need to sign Cross as badly as the local program does.

MIAMI

There are several must-gets for Mam and first-year head coach Manny Diaz in the Late Signing Period, but Richards tops the list. Not only is he the highest-ranked uncommitted target on the board, but Richards’ older brother is a Miami alum and the Hurricanes have been the odds-on favorite to land him for some time. That being said, Miami has seen other prospects they supposedly lead for go elsewhere in this class and cannot let it happen with Richards.

MISSISSIPPI STATE

This is the first, full recruiting class for Joe Moorehead at Mississippi State – the first chance to deploy his complete recruiting game plan – and so far, so good. The Bulldogs have a top-25 ranked class in 2019, but they only signed two-thirds of their commitments in the Early Period. To complete the plan Moorehead and Co. need to wrap things up in the late period, with Pickering being the priority No. 1.

OHIO STATE

Nester is the longest-tenured commitment on Ohio State’s 2019 list, but he’s also the only one unsigned. The retirement of Urban Meyer impacted the Rivals250 prospect greatly, and now Penn State and Virginia Tech are trying to flip him late. New head coach Ryan Day has not landed a new 2019 commitment since the Early Signing Period, when the Buckeyes signed 15 prospects. Keeping Nester is priority No. 1, but it does not look good with National Signing Day looming.

OLE MISS

Mingo committed to Ole Miss over the summer, but the Rebels are in a fight to keep the home-state kid from going to their in-state rival after he did not sign in the Early Period. Mississippi State has made a strong push to get Mingo to flip, while Florida State is also involved and got the last official visit this weekend. Wide receiver was one of the biggest needs Ole Miss had to address with this 2019 class, and Mingo is their highest-ranked commitment.

TENNESSEE

One of just two 2019 five-stars who remain unsigned, Wright has appeared a lock to Tennessee at many points over the past year. Being the team to beat for so long, though, is difficult to maintain because every other contender is trying to topple you. The latest salvos have been discharged by North Carolina and West Virginia. This still looks pretty comfortable for Tennessee, but anything but success here would be difficult to swallow for the Volunteers.

WASHINGTON

Washington is battling SEC programs down the stretch for California linebackers Henry To’oto’o and Daniel Heimuli. To’oto’o looks to be trending toward the SEC, but Washington is considered the team to beat for Heimuli. Seeing both four-star linebackers leave the West Coast for the Southeastern Conference would not be a good omen for Washington and the Pac-12 as a whole, as the Conference tries to reassert itself in the national picture.