For four years, he was known simply as "Two-Star" - too small to be taken seriously and too undervalued to be properly appreciated.
Look at Trevin Wade now.
The Arizona Wildcats' cornerback will likely be taken sometime in this week's NFL draft, making him the most unlikely of UA players to forge a career at the next level.
After all, Wade was a recruiting afterthought - rated two stars out of five - as a high school senior, and underestimated throughout a solid four-year career. Wade's career stats earned him an NFL combine invitation; his impressive numbers there boosted his stock.
"In the beginning, nobody thought I'd be in this position. I knew all along," Wade said. "If you work for something, you can get it. I appreciated being a two-star. I'm sure I'll take that attitude to the next level.
"I know I probably won't go where I should."
Which, if the experts are to believed, is anywhere between the third and fifth rounds. National Football Scouting, one of two services used by NFL teams, ranks Wade as a second-round talent.
In four years at the UA, three spent as a starter, Wade registered 182 tackles, 12 interceptions and broke up 28 passes. He was a model citizen while in college, and, players said, a good teammate.
Still, some scouts viewed the 5-foot-10-inch Wade as an unknown commodity.
Wade struggled as a junior in 2010, slowed by a nasty thigh bruise, and eventually lost his starting job. The poor performance was overshadowed by rumors of personal, and personality, problems. NFL executives peppered him with questions about 2010 at the combine.
"Somebody told me I had a bad junior season because of a girl," he said. "That was the weirdest thing. That's probably the most ridiculous thing."
Wade rebounded as a senior, becoming one of the bright spots on a terrible defense. He intercepted two passes and forced a fumble in 11 starts, though he couldn't help the Wildcats' fortunes. Arizona went 4-8 under coaches Mike Stoops and Tim Kish.
Wade's agent, Michael Hoffman, was stunned at the lack of love received locally during his solid season. Analysts heaped praise on quarterback Nick Foles and wide receiver Juron Criner during the Wildcats' skid, but often left Wade off the list.
"Two-star" was overlooked, again.
"Maybe that just follows him," Hoffman said. "Every athlete's a competitor, but Trevin's a big competitor. That's what makes him special."
Wade has spent the last few months in his hometown of Round Rock, Texas. He trains with former University of Texas stars Jamaal Charles and Limas Sweed in nearby Austin and still keeps in touch with his former coaches. He'll watch this weekend's draft at his parents' home, then depart for his new team.
By then, he'll have a new nickname: "Third-Round" or "Fourth-Round."
"At the next level, it's even harder," he said. "I don't want to be one of those guys who says, 'Hey, I got drafted' or, 'Hey, I made a team.' I want to play for a while."
NFL Draft schedule
• Thursday: First round, 5 p.m. on ESPN and NFL Network
• Friday: Second and third rounds, 5 p.m. on ESPN and NFL Network
• Saturday: Rounds 4-7, 9 a.m. on ESPN and NFL Network
NFL Draft hopefuls
Name Projected round
QB Nick Foles 3rd-5th round
WR Juron Criner 3rd-5th round
CB Trevin Wade 3rd-5th round
S Robert Golden 5th-7th round
WR David Douglas 7th round-undrafted
RB Keola Antolin 7th round-undrafted
WR Gino Crump 7th round-undrafted
LB Paul Vassallo 7th round-undrafted
DE Mohammed Usman 7th round-undrafted
FB C.J. Parish 7th round-undrafted
LB Derek Earls 7th round-undrafted
FB David Hill 7th round-undrafted