Over the last decade, the recruiting of high school athletes by college football programs has become just as big as the game itself.
Fans indulge themselves in keeping up with their school's recruiting endeavors—not just for the upcoming class but for classes one and two years down the line. National Signing Day 2014 is just over two months away, and coaches across the country will be focusing all of their attention on this single day over that time period.
However, recruiting of the 2015 class has been underway for sometime now, too, and after National Signing Day 2014 passes, much of the attention will shift toward next year's event. A number of programs have gotten off to a running start for the '15 class, including the Arkansas Razorbacks.
Head coach Bret Bielema has reeled in five commitments so far for 2015, per 247 Sports, and they are all considered to be top-notch recruits. Out of the five current commits, four of them are 4-star players, which is two more than the Hogs have for 2014.
The ball got rolling back in June, when 4-star quarterback Ty Storey, a Natural State product, committed to Arkansas over Alabama and Auburn, per Richard Davenport of WholeHogSports.com. Just over a week later, the Razorbacks secured a huge commitment from offensive lineman Zach Rogers, a Texas native.
Rogers was followed two weeks later by 3-star offensive lineman Colton Jackson, another big-time in-state player. Bielema got yet another top in-state prospect in August, when 4-star defensive end Jamario Bell decided to stay in Arkansas and suit up for the Hogs.
The latest to jump on board for 2015 was 4-star defensive tackle Hjalte Froholdt, a foreign exchange student from Denmark who played ball this past season in Ohio and committed to Arkansas over Michigan, Ohio State and Florida State.
Though there's still a lot of time before the 2015 class is official, Bielema and the Razorbacks have to be happy with how things have started. The biggest takeaway so far has to be Bielema keeping the best that the state has to offer at home.
Arkansas watched running back Altee Tenpenny opt for Alabama in the 2013 class, and recently, defensive tackle Josh Frazier also picked the Crimson Tide over his home-state Hogs (h/t Doc Harper of ArkansasFight.com).
That isn't a trend continuing into 2015, however, with three highly touted Natural State products already choosing the Hogs.
Bell, Jackson and Storey are all top prospects in Arkansas, and all three stayed true to their home roots. It's imperative to keep the best in the state at home if you want to build a successful program. While the Hogs haven't done that the last two years, Bielema has made it a point to put up a fence around his own backyard.
Bell has the prototypical long and lean frame that you look for in a pass-rushing defensive end. He needs to put on some weight and muscle, but he figures to have an immediate impact from Day 1.
Storey was also a huge get and has big potential. His arm strength and accuracy are quite advanced for a high school quarterback. Storey has a great pocket presence and could be the future under center.
Jackson, with some work, could be a solid piece on the O-line in the future, protecting Storey.
Will Gragg, the younger brother of former Razorback tight end Chris Gragg, is high on the Hogs radar and is another part of what is arguably the best recruiting class to ever come out of Arkansas.
It's a good sign to see Bielema keeping players from Arkansas in state, especially the best ones.
There's also Rogers and Foholdt. Rogers is country strong and appears to be a lock as a future stud on the O-line. He has all the intangibles to excel at the highest level in college football.
Froholdt will also be an anchor on the line, but on the defensive side. He possesses a quick first step off the line and seems to never stop when rushing the pocket.
There's a long way to go before everything is said and done for the 2015 class. A lot of prospects remain on the board that could make this class for the Hogs even better. However, you also have to consider the possibility of losing a recruit's commitment over such a long period of time.
Don't dwell on what might or might not happen, though. Instead, enjoy the start the Razorbacks are off to for 2015, because it's the best start the program has gotten off to in a recruiting cycle in a long time.
There hasn't been a lot to be happy about with the Hogs in a while, but there's an awful lot to get excited about on the recruiting trail.
For more info on the Arkansas Razorbacks, follow Bryan Heater on Twitter @BHeaterRivals.