As he entered the spring of his junior year, Sherman Oaks (Calif.) Notre Dame quarterback Kelly Hilinski was considered one of the top signal-callers in the West Coast.
In February, Hilinski picked up his first offer and it came all the way from the SEC: Arkansas.
"I couldn't be happier. It’s such a big relief,” said Hilinski immediately afterwards. “I’ve been waiting for this for such a long time now."
As the college football world would have it, controversy soon surrounded the program as Bobby Petrino was removed as head coach of the Razorbacks days before Hilinski was scheduled to take an unofficial visit.
Since then, the 6-foot-6, 220-pound prospect has been given an exercise in patience, hearing from a vast number of schools (and picking up a few Ivy League offers along the way), but chooses to remain patient and optimistic that he will find the right fit, both athletically and academically.
Over the past few months, Hilinski has heard from the likes of Duke, Colorado, Northwestern, and Oklahoma, and has lately been receiving attention from both North Carolina State and UCLA.
With his senior season in full swing, Hilinski is setting his sights on taking the Knights far into the playoffs, but he's given a little bit of thought to where he'll be taking his official visits.
"I'm not exactly sure about my trips yet. I know I'll be visiting Harvard, for sure, and Arkansas. I've been talking with North Carolina State; they are trying to get me out for a visit. I think I'm just going to take a few during the season. I'm at UCLA all the time, so I don't really need to take one there," he said.
The Wolfpack recently emerged on Hilinski's radar and he's been getting to know receivers coach and California recruiter Troy Walters.
"They got in contact with me a few weeks ago and told me that they had an offer to a player, and that they were waiting to see what he did, but he committed elsewhere. I've been talking with their coach, so we'll just have to see what happens," he said.
North Carolina State's offense features the 6-foot-6, 232-pound Mike Glennon, a quarterback with whom Hilinski has been impressed.
"It's crazy, he's breaking all sorts of records out there. Mechanically, he's very sound; they really produce great quarterbacks out there, so I really like that about them," he said.
On the opposite side of the country sits UCLA, a football program that Hilinski grew up watching and isn't shy about supporting.
"I've always been interested in UCLA; it was one of my favorite programs growing up. UCLA is a great school academically and athletically. I want to be a doctor and their pre-med program is amazing.
"I have a great relationship with [offensive coordinator Noel] Mazzone; I think he's a great coach. They are going to be doing big things at UCLA and I really want to be a part of that. I feel so comfortable with the school," he said.
Hilinski was on hand last weekend to watch the Bruins defeat Nebraska 36-30 and will be in attendance at the Rose Bowl on Saturday as UCLA hosts the Houston Cougars.
"Last weekend's game versus Nebraska was awesome, and I'm going to the game again this weekend with Khalfani Muhammad, Koa Farmer, and my brother [Tyler Hilinski]," he said.
With the recent parting of ways between UCLA and former commit Marietta (Ga.) Lassiter's Eddie Printz, a question mark surrounds the position in the Bruins' 2013 recruiting class. Hilinski, however, isn't getting too far ahead of himself and wants to let his performance on the field do the talking.
As he prepares to enter week four of his season, Hilinski has already managed to cross a few items off of his football bucket list.
He's learned to deal with pressure, as he's had every game televised this year, and even quarterbacked the Knights in Dublin, Ireland to a 27-15 win over a strong Chandler (Ariz.) Hamilton team. Off the field, Hilinski founded and organized a Habitat for Humanity chapter specifically for his football team.
With the strong support of his family and team, Hilinski continues to remind himself to take it "one day at a time" and has faith that the pieces will eventually fall into place.