Things started very early yesterday in Plantation Fa., for American Heritage defensive back Bryant Gross-Armiento. Even before he faxed in his national letter of intent to Rutgers, he was contacted by one of his future coaches.
"I woke up and got a call from coach [Dave] Cohen," Gross-Armiento said. "I was still half-asleep when I was talking to him. That continues to show me that they care. It feels good going to a program that's not only on the map but is getting better year in and year out."
Not long after that phone call, Gross-Armiento made it official as he inked his future in scarlet.
Shortly after that, he took part in a signing day ceremony at American Heritage High School that featured 25 athletes, seven of whom were football players.
That was just part of an exciting day for Gross-Armiento.
"I'm very excited for me and my family," he said. "It shows that hard work does pay off. I put in a lot of time to get where I am now. But I'm not satisfied. I'm still going to keep working."
Gross-Armiento's days on the football field started early, but college football wasn't on his mind at the beginning of that era.
"When I was in middle school and Pop Warner, I wasn't really thinking about it," he explained. "But I went to high school and I always had the talent. The big thing for me was that I didn't want to let it go to waste."
Gross-Armiento also remembered the time when he knew playing big time college football was a distinct possibility.
"Freshman year," he said. "I was still immature, I had that Pop Warner in me but I was good. Coaches were telling me that. I still had three years left but those years go by fast. At the end of my freshman year, I started getting in the weight room, classroom, I started watching film and being a student of the game.
"That's when I realized I have what it takes to get to the next level. But it's how I would carry it out. I could waste it or I could work with it and make something out of it. And that's what I did."
There also seems to be a hunger in Gross-Armiento that sets him aside from most high school football players.
"I'm a big competitor. I'm always about hard work. I'm very hungry and humble. In young athletes, it's tough to stay humble but I'm a very humble person. I like to keep to myself."
Gross-Armiento also credited his family with helping to this point, most of whom joined him for yesterday's signing day events.
"You have to have that close circle because there are people out there that want to knock you down. They are going say this and that but it's all about how you handle things. I think I've been able to handle it well."