The night before NC State's season opener against Louisiana Tech, sophomore center Quinton Schooley was admittedly nervous while the squad stayed in the team hotel.
"It was hard to express," Schooley noted.
The native of small-town Chanute, Kan., was not even planning on being at a college this fall much less getting ready to start for an ACC team. Schooley was supposed to be settling in for his second season at Butler Community College in El Dorado, Kan.
NCSU offensive line coach Mike Uremovich though made adding Schooley for the fall a priority after spotting him during a Butler spring practice. It was the first validation for Schooley that he was good enough to be playing major college football.
"I had my doubts cause I didn't get recruited of out of high school, and I was smaller, only 235, 240 pounds coming out of high school," Schooley recalled.
Since arriving at NC State, Schooley aggressively got into the film room and learned the offense to the point where throughout preseason camp he felt like he belonged. He still did not expect to be in the position he was prior to the opener.
"Honestly, no, not at the beginning of camp anyway," Schooley said. "I never thought I'd be here. It's crazy."
All it took was one snap though. One snap into the opener against Louisiana Tech and all the nerves and harbored doubts were gone.
"After the first play, you realize, 'I do belong on th field with these people, and I am good enough,'" Schooley said. "The first game got me into the zone. I felt that I needed to get that first game under my belt.
"Since then I've been adjusting to the speed and everything. I feel like I am doing pretty good."
That's not to say Schooley does not see room for improvement, but the growth he has already made gives him confidence.
"I feel like I have improved every game, and I feel like the teams we have played have gotten better, so I've had to step it up even more," he said. "I need to keep going, keep improving, but I've definitely improved since the first game."
A quarter of the way into the season, and Schooley feels like he is getting used to it, even if he is a bit of a big story back in Chanute.
"After the game a lot of people tweet me from back home, they all watch the game, everyone is really excited for me," Schooley said. "Everybody knows everybody in that town. There's been write-ups in the paper about every game, almost."