Before David Cornwell set out on this final leg of his high school career, he journeyed back to Omaha, Neb., the beginning of his football dream, to fulfill a promise.
Through every twist of the past five years, Cornwell remained loyal to Chase Sears. And Sears to Cornwell.
They met as eighth-graders in 2008 at Central Middle School. Cornwell played baseball. Sears wrestled. They both played football.
"I just knew," Sears said. "I knew he was going to be something big."
He may have been the only one.
"One of three," Cornwell said, laughing.
When Cornwell left Nebraska for Florida in 2011, he told Sears he'd return. Sears endured multiple concussions in wrestling and football, derailing many of his own dreams. But when he decided to enlist in the U.S. Navy, Cornwell had special reason to make that trip happen now.
Sears graduated from Millard South three months ago. He begins boot camp in Great Lakes, Ill., on Sept. 27. It's two months at the start of a five-year commitment. He said he would consider a career in the service.
"His job is much more important than mine," Cornwell said. "Obviously, I get more attention. But without guys like him, it wouldn't be possible."
They got together back in Nebraska earlier this month, revisiting old times. Who'd have thought, five years ago, they'd stand together of two such big leaps? Certainly not Sears and Cornwell.
Sears provides perspective. He keeps Cornwell connected to his past and focused on his future task to prove that despite his circuitous journey, the quarterback is worthy of the hype.