Faith, family, football.
A triumvirate instilled in the mind of a kid with an unyielding passion for the pigskin sport.
His passion was even more evident however, as he grew and especially when it was temporarily taken away.
So when Jacom Brimhall served his two-year Mormon mission right out of high school, it was a letter he wrote to himself that reignited his dream to one day play college football.
"When I served the mission you don't really have contact with your family except for emails one day a week," Brimhall said. "You don't get to watch TV, don't get to listen to music, so it was about six months in I wrote a letter to myself "Things I Miss Most" and No.1 was family and No.2 was football. Whenever I thought about it and got back and read that letter I was just like, ‘this is rough, man I missed it and I love it and it gets me excited again.'"
So when Brimhall, a 5-foot-8, 185-pound running back from Mountain View High School in Mesa, Ariz., finished serving his mission, he formulated a plan. He would sacrifice his dream of playing for Arizona State in an effort to play the sport he loved again and try his luck at Utah where he believed he would have a better shot of walking on the team.
Brimhall didn't know then that going to watch his former Mountain View teammate compete at Tontozona would be the factor that would ultimately lead to the greatest decision he ever made.
"I talked to Brandon (Matthews) in Tontozona, who I hadn't seen in two and a half years because he had served a mission previously too," Brimhall said. "And I came down and saw him and he said, ‘Man, you can do it, you gotta go talk to him (Graham)' and as soon as I stepped foot in the building I knew I had to come here. I knew this is where I'm meant to be, so I did everything I could after that to get here."
Once Brimhall saw a sliver of an opening on a team with such a deep backfield, he took it. He walked on and worked hard. He bundled up the adversities he would face, his small stature, his competition, the rust from not playing for years, and slung them over his shoulder to use as weight that would make him stronger.
He knew his work ethic was something that could separate him from the bunch. In high school he racked up 3,119 yards and 35 touchdowns in his final two seasons, prompting an East Valley Offensive Player of the Year award his junior year.
He worked on his speed and thought of his height as an advantage that, combined with his speed, would make him hard to decipher in traffic. His teammates nicknamed him "The Muscle Hamster."
Coach Todd Graham saw a unique spirit in the young man from Mesa and frequently praised him after practice. Brimhall eventually saw playing time on special teams in 12 games for the 2014 season.
"If I were the low of the low walk on or if I was a scholarship player, my mindset never really changed," Brimhall said. "It's ‘I need to come out here and compete.' When I go out there and I line up with a guy like Mike Bercovici and I got a guy like D.J. Foster next to me, or any of the running backs, I know I better bring it."
It was this year however, namely last Friday, when Brimhall's determination amounted to something more than just a green walk-on jersey.
Graham announced the scholarship spot this season was awarded to long snapper Mitchell Fraboni. That was that. Brimhall knew Fraboni was a well-deserving recipient. He knew the numbers and knew there was only once spot to give this year. Or seemingly so. Until Graham paused and then called Brimhall up.
"When Coach Graham pulled that joke on me I just couldn't contain my emotions," Brimhall said. "Thinking everything I had been through and my family and just what it means to me and my family this being my dream school and so I was balling like a baby."
Brimhall quickly spread the news to his parents who were overwhelmed with emotion. Brimhall's mother waited for him to come home at the front door that night. Both her and Brimhall's father had known the longing he felt to play the sport again. Not only to play it, but to do it well, a mantra he strives for in all aspects of life.
"My dream was to play college football ever since I was a kid," Brimhall said. "In high school I thought I was going to get the opportunity, but at the time I felt like it was expected of me to go on a mission and when I went out and started serving the mission I realized, there's things more important. So I knew I was going to try to play when I got back, but I didn't know if anyone was going to give me a shot.
"But now I got to come out here and play at my dream school. There's absolutely no doubt in my mind that's the best decision I've ever made."
He goes into 2015 having completed his mission, having moved his parents to tears and having earned a scholarship spot on a Division 1 team for the largest university in the country.
Faith, family, football.