Knoxville native and Princeton quarterback Quinn Epperly took home one of college football's most prestigious awards this season.
But getting there was far from easy.
"If you had to pick who would win the offensive MVP coming in to the year, my name was not at the top of the list," said Epperly.
Epperly was named the Ivy League's top offensive player of 2013.
"Being able to be a part of that and have my family there was just an awesome day," recalled Epperly.
Epperly turned heads in high school playing for CAK. He was two-time all-state, but had just three Division I offers at the FCS level. He chose to be a Princeton Tiger.
"I always believed if I was given the opportunity I could perform at a pretty high level," said Epperly.
He worked his way to third string during his freshman year, but a knee injury slowed him down.
"As an incoming freshman the coaches don't really know what you're made of," explained Epperly. "So, it's questioned. Is this guy faking an injury? Is he not willing to play through pain?"
His injury dropped him to sixth on the depth chart. The year was going so badly for Quinn his family wondered if he should come back home.
"He just said, no," said Kathy Epperly, Quinn's mother. "I don't quit what I start. And I'm finishing this."
Epperly saw limited time his sophomore year, but started the final game. He separated his throwing shoulder on the third play. Then he tore a ligament in his foot. He stayed on the field until his coaches wouldn't let him.
"I think that kind of gained the respect."
Epperly was in the good graces of his coaches and teammates, but his body wasn't cooperating. This summer, three weeks before fall camp, he got mono. One doctor said he couldn't play because of an enlarged spleen.
"I kind of laughed and said, I'm going to play football," said Quinn.
He was finally cleared to play. Epperly tied the school record with 25 touchdowns passes. He ran for 18 more.
Against Cornell, Epperly broke the FCS record with 29 straight completions.
"One of the other quarterbacks came up and was like, have you thrown an incompletion?" recalled Quinn. "I kind of assumed I had."
It was the finest season by a quarterback in Princeton's history. Epperly had 43 total touchdowns and over 2700 yards of total offense.
The Tigers finished with a co-Ivy League Championship, only a year after going 5-5.
"A lot of people said that I wouldn't stay up there, and I wouldn't last. That's not an option. I went here to play, I'm going to play. I'm going to stick it out and go through whatever I have to do."
Epperly is back home for Christmas, but his trophy is not. It will sit in his coach's office until next year's winner is announced. But as we know now, it's a safe bet no one's counting out Quinn this time