The magnitude of the moment didn't hit Marques Barron until he walked into a classroom full of football players, coaches, administrators, family and friends.
If it didn't hit him then, it surely sank in as he sat in between his parents, Curtis and Kara, and watched the tears trickle down Rob Scheidt's face as the Merced football coach expressed how excited he was for Barron and his family.
On Wednesday, Barron signed his national letter of intent to accept a scholarship to play football at UC Davis.
"To me, it was just signing a piece of paper until I saw all the people in the classroom," Barron said.
"Now, I realize it's much bigger than that. I get to go to college, I get to get my degree and I get to play football.
"Even bigger is hopefully it can inspire other people in this room to do the same thing."
Barron is the third person in his family to receive an athletic scholarship in the last three years.
His cousin, Jarrett Sparks, is currently playing tight end at Cal and another cousin, Allen Huddleston, is playing his freshman season for the University of the Pacific basketball team.
"I'm the last one," Barron said. "Growing up they were always pushing me around.
"Now I can say I'm at least at their level."
Barron recorded 81 tackles, including nine sacks during his senior season.
Other schools like Cal Poly San Luis Obispo and Sacramento State showed interest.
However, Barron quickly felt a connection to Davis where he plans to major in exercise biology.
"It felt like here," he said. "Talking to the coaches there reminded me of talking to our coaches here.
"They talk to you as a person and not like they're your superior."
It was a special day for Scheidt to see one of his players obtain one of his goals.
"I'm excited," Scheidt said. "I didn't think I'd get that emotional, but Marques and his family have gone through a lot this year with Kameron (Huddleston).
"It's good to see everyone here celebrating. It's a great day. I'm happy for him and his family. They're awesome people."
That's something UC Davis coach Bob Biggs discovered right away when he visited the Barron family.
"After meeting his family I was sold," Biggs said. "That was one of the best experiences I've had during a recruiting visit. You can tell his work ethic just being around his family. His family is not going to cut him any slack.
"You can tell he was raised right, he knows about team issues, he knows about working hard and what it means to sacrifice.
"He gets it. He's got a great personality and a great smile. He's that Jekyll and Hyde type of player where he'll tear you up on the field, but be your best friend when the game's over."
Barron's goal has always been to become a collegiate athlete.
He just thought it would be in basketball.
"I wanted it to be basketball," he said. "That was always my first love. I remember coach (Seneca) Ybarra, who told me I would get somewhere in football and not basketball.
"I'm not as talented in basketball, I'll be honest."
It was his football talent that helped make this possible, but just as important was his work in the classroom.
That's what he tried to explain to his friends and teammates on Wednesday.
"So many times there are good athletes who don't get it done in the classroom," Barron said. "Then there are smart people who don't want to work hard in football or whatever sport.
"If you work hard, you can get whatever you want."