Now, colleges are taking commitments from prospects that are still two years away from graduating high school; some three.
While the landscape of recruiting has changed, the talent of players has also advanced in recent years and is a giant reason for the recruiting transformation. With various underclassmen camps across the nation, players of younger ages with talent are being recognized by staffs at a much earlier rate.
For some players, they truly are special at a young age. Such can be said about Frisco, TX offensive lineman Jack Anderson.
Anderson has received early attention from college's thanks in large part to his big 6-foot-4, 280-pound frame and his willingness to reach out to coaches. It also doesn't hurt that he started as a freshman for his school, which has advanced three rounds deep into the Class 4A playoffs in three straight seasons.
The rising 2017 prospect has already drawn interest from TCU, Washington State, Oklahoma and Texas Tech among others. He hopes to add even more interest in the following months by reaching out to more programs.
"I just started getting recruiting interest because I started my freshman year on varsity and I started reaching out to schools," he said. "I haven't been getting many letters because of NCAA rules so most of the contact I get with coaches is me reaching out by email or calling coaches. I've also talked to them with the camps I've gone to."
Attending a camp last summer at Texas Tech also helped Anderson garner interest from the Red Raiders. He has family ties to the Big 12 program with his Dad an alum and his sister currently a student there. While Anderson admits he grew up a fan of the Red Raiders, seeing what other programs have to offer has opened his eyes to the recruiting process.
"That's how I've been so close with (Texas) Tech because my dad is a class of '90 and my sister is class of '17," he said. "I went to their summer camp and I always thought that was the school I wanted to go to but I'm opening my eyes to a lot of stuff."
Among the additional programs Anderson is evaluating closely is TCU. Anderson visited the Ft. Worth campus last Saturday to watch the Frogs' spring "scrimmage". It was the first time for the big lineman to be on campus and the visit left a good impression.
"I thought it was awesome," Anderson said of the visit. "For a private school, it was a lot bigger than I thought it would be facility wise. I knew they had a good football program but I was really impressed." One thing that caught Anderson's attention was the Frogs' offense. Although the Frogs didn't run the ball often in the scrimmage, Anderson did get a feel of what the run game could look like this season after a conversation with offensive line coach Jarrett Anderson.
"He told me they run the ball a lot more than that and that got me pretty excited because I love running the ball," he said of his talk with Anderson. "He said they didn't have their three starting running backs. The energy was awesome and I spoke with a few guys on the sideline; I felt pretty wanted there."
One player that stood out on the offensive line to Anderson was fellow center Joey Hunt. The young center knew after watching the Rimington Award Nominee that he had to meet him.
"That was one of the best parts of my visit," Anderson said of meeting Hunt. "I saw him playing and I knew I had to talk with him because I think we have a lot in common. He's a really good guy and from a small town. He said he was recruited as a defensive tackle but played some center in high school."
As the starting center as a freshman for one of the top teams in Class 4A, Anderson says he felt some pressure being the quarterback of the offensive line so early. After all, it was the first time he had played center after playing tackle all of his life.
Now, he has high expectations entering his sophomore season and even higher one's in the future as he continues working toward his goal of landing a college scholarship.
"It's kind of funny because right after I came out of eighth grade that summer they told me they need me to start at center and I started snapping for the first time ever right there," he said. "In eighth grade I played tackle, I've always played tackle. This year I may play center again because we have some seniors at tackle; our whole line are seniors except me. So, next year I'll play tackle and try to be the leader of the line; I'm going to try to be a captain my junior year."
Anderson will make his second visit to a Big 12 program in a week when he travels to Norman on Saturday to watch the Sooners in action.