Each took a different path to get to Fort Scott (Kan.) Community College, but now that they're there receiver Brandon Kinnie, defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul and linebacker Jacquain Williams are going places together.
The first place they're going to is on an official visit to Nebraska this weekend. But in the long run they all hope to be in the place that has them hoisting the Jayhawk Conference championship trophy at the end of the season.
"I think we can really be great," Kinnie, who had seven receptions for 137 yards and four touchdowns in Fort Scott's 40-20 victory over Kilgore (Texas) College last week.
"But only we can determine that. We have to be determined to work hard and get after it. A lot of people are saying we lost a lot of pieces, but we're showing them already that we're going to be a team to reckon with in the conference. Our goal is win the championship and that's only going to be done with hard work."
Fort Scott is loaded with solid talent on both offense and defense, and there is no question Kinnie, Pierre-Paul and Williams are a big part of what should be a successful season.
Originally from Tampa, Fla., Williams is the 6-foot-4, 220-pound linebacker that earned all-conference honors as a freshman. He racked up 60 tackles, 11 tackles for a loss, two interceptions and one fumble recovery. Back as a sophomore that many consider one of the best in the league, he had three tackles and a tackle for a loss in the season-opening victory.
"I was just happy we made history," Williams said. "I played pretty good, but I know I could do a lot better than what I did last week."
Williams has had to take on a new role this season. He went from the crazy young guy that just ran around and made plays, to the seasoned veteran the younger guys look up to.
"It was hard for me to go from that crazy guy to being the leader," Williams said. "It was hard, but it was something that for us to win, coach said I had to do. I agree with him 100 percent. I'm still more of a vocal guy, but I also like to led with my actions."
Pierre-Paul's path to Fort Scott came via transfer from College of the Canyons in California. He was a unanimous all-Western Conference selection as a freshman after recording 49 tackles and 14 sacks.
"Fort Scott is like home to me now," Pierre-Paul said.
"It's more comfortable here. In California I wasn't really getting into the core classes that I needed to graduate and be qualified for Division I. They had me in a bunch of electives. Over here I'm getting all my core classes. It was more about it getting things taken care of with books."
Pierre-Paul only had one tackle and a tackle for a loss in the season-opener, but more are sure to come. He didn't start playing football until his junior year in high school. While in high school, he was a first-team all-Broward County pick. He signed with Central Florida after racking up 92 tackles and 15 sacks as a senior.
"I broke my leg in basketball," Paul-Pierce said. "That's what got me into football. I chose to play football and it became a lot of fun. I just kept playing from there. I ended up falling in love with playing defensive end."
"It's simple," he said. "I love sacks."
Kinnie landed at Fort Scott after playing at Grandview, Mo., in high school. He spent time on the same team with Kansas State junior quarterback Josh Freeman, but he did admittedly fall behind early academically and never really pushed himself hard athletically.
That all changed when he arrived at Fort Scott.
"I changed my work ethic," he said. "I used to do a lot based on ability. Here I was showed how to really work hard. I was showed how to work in the weight room. I was showed how to push myself as a receiver. I was pushed hard to better myself as a student.
"I've really improved my hands. I have a burst of speed now. I have more explosion than I ever did in high school."
Kinnie said he owes a lot of that success to coach Jeff Sims, his head coach and position coach.
"You don't have a choice but to go hard for him," he said. "I had to develop that work ethic because he doesn't let anything slide. It worked out great for me. I went from being only able to do two up-downs and then complain about it to doing a 100 of them and wanting to do more."
All three definitely want more for the Fort Scott program that has suddenly showed signs of life the past two seasons after struggling for quite some time.
"It would mean a lot to me and to all of the guys to have a great season," Williams said. "We put so much into this team. We all believe in each other and know that we can do things that nobody expects from us. We can do it, if we all stick together."
All three will be together on an official visit to Nebraska this weekend. The Huskers have offered scholarships to Kinnie and Paul-Pierre and all three seem excited about their trip to Lincoln.
"I can't wait to take my visit to Nebraska this weekend," Kinnie said. "I've been up there on an unofficial visit and I saw a lot of really exciting things. I'm going to watch the game and see how they really use their receivers."
However, don't expect a commitment from any of the trio this weekend.
"I'm really high on Nebraska, but I just want to keep going through the season and see how things play out," Kinnie said. "At first when I got the offer, I thought about committing. But since then I've gotten an offer from Arkansas and a lot of other people are interested in me. I was so ready to jump in, but after thinking about it I've told myself I have to wait and see how things go."
Williams said he sees himself playing closer to home.
"I'm looking more toward South Florida," he said. "I like how the coach talked to me when I was in high school. He told me he'd come and get me when I was done with junior college, and we've stayed in touch together. I remember that. But I want to see what it's like more at Nebraska for sure."
Pierre-Paul honestly isn't thinking about recruiting at this point. He is letting the Fort Scott coaches help guide him through the recruiting process and he wasn't even sure what schools have offered him a scholarship.
But what he is sure of is that he wants to help Fort Scott do something special this season.
"We all want to be 12-0 and champions," Pierre-Paul said. "We want to have that trophy at the end of the year. That's our biggest goal."