As a high school player, Jordan Carrell had a tough time getting anyone on the college level to notice him.
As a Colorado Buffalo, he was tough to ignore.
The 6-foot-3, 300-pound defensive lineman is one of 27 seniors for the Buffs, and he couldn't be happier about ending his career with a trip to the Valero Alamo Bowl, where CU (10-3) will battle Oklahoma State (9-3) on Dec. 29.
"We wanted to build that foundation for the years to come here at Colorado and we did exactly what we planned to do, and that's to win," Carrell said. "We didn't finish our complete goal in winning the (Pac-12), but I'm happy with where we were, and I have no regrets."
Getting to this point has been a long, but worthwhile, journey for Carrell, who starred at Roseville (Calif.) High School, before settling to play at American River College near home.
A junior college all-American, Carrell signed with CU in the spring of 2015.
For the past two years, he's been one of the best and most consistent players on Buffs' defense.
"It's just a blessing to be able to make it out of high school with no offers, go the JC route and have the opportunity play here at Colorado," he said. "It's just been an amazing experience. I'm just glad I was able to sign and be a Buffalo."
While being recruited by CU coaches, Carrell was told the program was on the rise, despite going 2-10 in 2014.
"They talked about how they were on the up and I believed and I just came here and got straight to work and it's all paid off," he said.
Carrell has played in all 26 games the past two years, with 25 starts. He has registered 103 tackles and 6 ½ sacks, with 5.5 of those coming this season.
"I think I came in here and did exactly what I told the coaches I would do and that's to play right away and I played in every single game," he said. "I didn't get injured in any games. I just credit my junior college for getting me ready for this level."
A former offensive lineman, Carrell was brought in to help bolster a thin defensive line last year, and CU head coach Mike MacIntyre is pleased with not only Carrell's play, but how he's grown as a young man.
"He has hit the expectations," CU head coach Mike MacIntyre said."I thought he would be a two-year starter when we were recruiting him. He had to prove that and do it and he's done it. He's gotten better and better really as parts of seasons have gone along.
"He's done really well in school. I've been excited for everything he's done and excited for what he'll do in the bowl game."
Throughout his college career, Carrell has been a motivated player with a strong work ethic. This year, however, his motivation went to a new, unexpected level after Carrell's father, Lawrence, passed away from a heart attack on April 23.
"We talked all the time during (the spring) when he came back, and we've talked a lot since then at different times," said MacIntyre, whose own father passed away in January. "He's handled it as well as you can handle it. I've been excited to see him mature through this."
Carrell dedicated his final season at CU to his father.
"Every single game, before I touched the field, I always looked to the sky," Carrell said. 'Any time I touched the field, I dedicated it to him."
There's no doubt Lawrence would be proud.
"He's looking down and he's proud," Carrell said, "and I wouldn't want to go out any other way."
Brian Howell: firstname.lastname@example.org, on Twitter: @BrianHowell33.