Most prospects, including some of the most talented, don't have to worry too much about the recruiting process until the last semester of their junior year.
Noah Spence, a rising high school junior from Harrisburg (Pa.) Bishop McDevitt, however, has been thrust into the spotlight much earlier than most.
The 6-foot-3, 225-pound defensive end from Pennsylvania is one of the top players in his state regardless of class. He has the verbal offers to show for it. A dozen schools, including programs such as Notre Dame, Penn State, Pitt and a host of others have put written offers on the table, so it's a good bet that Spence will be rated as one of the nation's top prospects when those rankings come out a long time from now.
Spence spoke with Rivals.com this week and had a lot to say about the recruiting process. He has already become very familiar with some of the schools that are recruiting him.
"I've done some visits already," Spence pointed out. "I've been to Penn State, Pitt, NC State and Rutgers for unofficial visits.
"Penn State was a great visit. The coaching staff was great and the tour of the campus was excellent. I liked everything about the campus, the coaches and the way they treat their players.
"Pitt really felt like a family atmosphere. The coaching staff was great. It felt like a nice place. Everyone was warm.
"I like NC State, too. I liked the coaching staff, their facilities and everything like that.
"Rutgers was real nice. I liked the coaches a lot. They treat everyone as people. They really don't care about that freshman stuff. They're real down to earth, chill people."
Spence said he didn't visit those schools because they are his favorites, as he is wide open at this early stage in the process. Those were just the schools he was able to schedule something with.
"I plan on doing more visits," he added. "Not during the summer but during this (fall). I do want to get out to Notre Dame in the future, and I want to visit a couple more schools."
One big factor in Spence's decision, whenever he makes it, is going to be how he fits into the defenses of the schools that are recruiting him. He said some schools are recruiting him as a defensive end, but others like him as a linebacker.
"Some schools are looking at me for linebacker. Virginia offered me this year and said they'd like me as an outside linebacker. Maryland likes me as an outside linebacker. I'm thinking Notre Dame would want me as an outside linebacker, too," he explained.
"It really doesn't matter to me. It's just the difference between standing up and getting down. My coach moves me around so I play linebacker sometimes. I'm mostly experienced at defensive end, though."
It's no surprise that Spence is considered such an elite prospect at such an early stage in the recruiting process. In addition to his athleticism, which is superb, he was a highly productive player as just a sophomore last year.
Spence recorded 60 tackles and eight sacks while forcing four fumbles, recovering one, breaking up two passes and scoring a touchdown for Bishop McDevitt last year.
Though plenty of schools have offered, many others will surely jump into the mix soon.
"Down the road I think USC and Florida will end up offering me," he said. "They've had contact with my coach and they've visited my school. Oregon has had contact with my coach, too."