There is a phrase quarterback Greg Jenkins can't, and might never, get out of his head.
Work like you're in second place and play like you're in first place.
It's a simple expression, but when the former Wesley Chapel quarterback repeats the axiom, it becomes clear that he has done more than just commit it to memory.
There is a sense of obligation to it.
He will need to follow it, because as he started practicing at Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College in Perkinston, Miss., nearly two weeks ago, he was working for a scholarship.
In that brief period, it appears Jenkins has brought that scholarship within reach.
"I'm here as a preferred walk-on, and as it's looking right now I'll be here for the fall starting," Jenkins said. "It's four freshman quarterbacks, and all of us are new to the system. Right now, I'm with the first team."
If he sticks with the first team and is the starting quarterback in the Bulldogs' Sept. 11 season opener against Southwest Mississippi Community College, he will turn that preferred walk-on status into a full scholarship.
Wesley Chapel football coach John Castelamare is confident his former three-year starter has what it takes to call plays for the 2007 NJCAA co-national championship team.
"He is so intense, he wants the ball every time," Castelamare said. "If his teammates can't do the job or are having a rough time doing the job, it's like, we need Greg and he'll come through somehow.
"He's got all the moves and quickness. He's a pretty confident kid when he has the ball in his hands, and they spread it open over there and he can throw. He throws well on the run, so he's going to be a double threat."
Jenkins has been known to quickly shake a defender, but his college situation was the opposite. It took months for this opportunity to come.
Jenkins and his family, as well as Castelamare, had been in talks to MGCCC and several other schools. In fact, Jenkins was considering heading to California's College of the Canyons to play defensive back, but the quarterback situation at MGCCC quickly dissolved.
The quarterback who led the Bulldogs to the national championship game, Genario McNealy, transferred to the University of Northern Alabama, while backup Jared Foster is no longer with the team after facing legal issues.
"They liked him from the time they saw him, it's just that they had two quarterbacks at the time," Castelamare said of Jenkins. "I hope everything works out well. It should."
The trying situation became a lesson to Jenkins.
"I'm blessed that I got an opportunity to play at the next level. I'm here now. I'm not going anywhere," Jenkins said. "It was frustrating. I had ups and downs. It was an emotional roller coaster. We all get tested. God tests us all the time, and I'm glad I made it through. Now I have an opportunity. I was worried.
"I was going to go to a junior college in California and play defensive back, but I was going to have to come out of the pocket a lot because they don't have scholarships at junior colleges in California. Right here, if I earn a starting spot after two-a-days, they're going to choose who will be the starting quarterback, then I have a full ride."
If the adage posted on the walls of the Wesley Chapel locker room isn't enough, free schooling and a shot at starting for the defending junior college co-national champions ought to do it.
"That's making me work harder than my competition and even harder in general," Jenkins said. "I'm pushing myself to limits I haven't been pushed to yet. It's making me a better player."