Of the 16 Division I scholarship offers that landed in the hands of Taylor Dever, just one found its way into a frame " and then into a hallway closet, when coaches from other schools came knocking upon his front door.
It's not a stretch to say the University of Notre Dame had an inside track on landing Dever as a recruit. After all, he dreamt of being a golden domer since he was 9 years old.
Yet when he announced Friday that he would, in fact, accept the full athletic scholarship extended to him by Irish coach Charlie Weis, Dever emphasized that his decision didn't come down to merely childhood daydreaming.
"I think because it was such a huge decision for me, one of the biggest in my life, I was a little hesitant," said Dever, a Nevada Union senior. "Throughout the whole process, I wondered 'How am I going to decide?'
"You know, it was like 'Well, I really like this O-line coach, but I really like this other school, too.' There was just so much you're taking in all at once. That's why it's so overwhelming."
In choosing Notre Dame, the 6-foot, 6-inch, 295-pound offensive lineman joins a recruiting class that is currently ranked No. 1 in the nation by ESPN recruiting analyst Tom Luginbill.
The class is headlined by Jimmy Clausen, an Oaks Christian senior who many recruiting experts consider to be the top high school quarterback " if not player " in the country. Texas and USC are rated second and third, respectively, on Luginbill's list of top recruiting classes.
Dever made his decision less than a week after making an official visit to South Bend, Ind., and passing the cold-weather test of the Midwest. Dever didn't flinch at the fact the campus was snow-covered, something he's used to living up off Red Dog Road in Nevada City.
Something he wasn't used to was walking into Notre Dame Stadium, or visiting the very locker room where the likes of Knute Rockne, Frank Leahy, Ara Parseghian and Lou Holtz once delivered halftime speeches.
And once he left that locker room and stared at the sign urging players to "Play Like A Champion Today," he thought of the many times he saw the sign on TV but had never thought he would actually touch it.
"It was like 'Well, here I am. This is it,'" Dever said. "It was another point of realization that weekend. And I knew it.
"But wasn't the mystique of it all. I looked through that."
Dever, who said his decision essentially came down to two schools " the University of Washington and the Fighting Irish, said Weis was a big part of the decision to play at Notre Dame, but not only for football reasons.
"Coach's philosophy and what he represents, I stand for a lot of that," Dever said. "Coach Weis stressed that he was looking at me as a person first and then as a football player.
"But he has been around the game for so long and we know that he's considered an offensive mastermind. I didn't pick Notre Dame because Charlie Weis was an NFL coach, but he does know what he's doing."
The Irish have a 19-5 record in two years under Weis, with the losses coming against the likes of Michigan State, Ohio State, Michigan and USC, which has a 2-0 record against Weis.
Early on in the recruiting process, Dever didn't know that at one point he'd have to decide between schools such as Nebraska, Miami and Oregon. Fresno State was the first Division I program to offer a full scholarship.
From there things snowballed in a hurry.
"It was stressful at times," he said."I felt like I was on top of the world after that first offer. And then they started coming in and I actually had to start thinking about 'OK, if I had to decide today, where would I narrow it down?'"
Throughout the recruitment, Dever said he was fortunate to have both his family and Nevada Union's coaching staff standing by his side.
"Coach (Dave) Humphers has obviously been with me since the beginning," Dever said. "He's always given me great support. He told me he was there to protect me and to give me someone to lean on through this. Who I am today is somewhat due to his support.
"And (NU offensive line coach Steve) Kiwi (Moore). He's been great encouraging me and supporting me, especially when I went from JV to varsity. I don't think I ever had as much fun with any coach while still working hard."
When Dever made the visit to Notre Dame, he said it was important to him that he was escorted by his father, Tom, his mother, Lori, and his sister, Megan, a junior at Nevada Union.
"This all has been very exciting and draining at the same time," said Tom. "The goal for us was for him to remove any emotion from the decision and to create a level playing field, so to speak, for the evaluation process.
"We all face few big decisions in life " what I call the things that matter " and we wanted him to be find the right emotion. We wanted him to be able to point to it and say that's that what I want."
Even though he believes he was able to separate his decision from his daydreams as a child, Dever did say that the trip to South Bend was even better than he expected.
"When you think of Notre Dame, you think of the golden dome and the basilica. But to actually get out there and see that in person was pretty amazing," he said. "To step on that field and look up into those stands, it was pretty amazing.
"But there is a lot that is going to be expected. I'm not going to go to Notre Dame and just be happy to be there. I've been told there's a lack of depth on the offensive line and that I'll have the chance to play early.
"Ultimately, that's up to me and how hard I work. And that's something I'm pretty good at."
To contact Sports Editor Brian Hamilton, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or call 477-4240.