LeAnthony Reasnover came highly recommended to Kurt Barth. Barth's close friend and fellow Eureka College alum, Matt Fox, coached Reasnover at Momence High School and strongly endorsed him.
Then there were Barth's nephews, Ryan and Drew Barth. While at Fieldcrest High School, the now-Red Devils played a memorable playoff game against Reasnover and Momence.
"They really saw something in him," the Eureka College coach said.
It all set the bar high for Reasnover, a running back who will tell you the 5-foot-10 next to his name on the roster "might be pushing it a little bit."
Reasnover has measured up in every way that matters, to the point his coach said flatly Tuesday, "He is easily the most talented kid who's walked through these halls."
Then added, "And I think there's more to him yet."
Wouldn't that be something?
Already, the junior Reasnover owns six school rushing records: career yards (3,808) and touchdowns (55); single-season yards (1,834) and touchdowns (31); and single-game yards (355) and touchdowns (7).
Reasnover's 1,834 rushing yards, 192 points, 31 rushing touchdowns and 32 total TDs this season all rank No. 1 in NCAA Division III.
"I try not to pay attention to the numbers because I don't want my head getting too big," Reasnover said.
Truth is that is unlikely. Reasnover is as engaging as he is elusive. He is quick with a smile and has yet to meet a stranger.
Those qualities make him more than the star running back on Eureka's first conference championship team since 1995 and first-ever Division III playoff squad.
He has gone from a freshman needing to find his way — notably in the classroom and the weight room — to the student body's most familiar face.
"He's grown up so much. It's just been fun to watch," Kurt Barth said. "A lot of it is getting comfortable in the surroundings.
"We tried to talk to him and tell him early on, 'This could be your campus.' With his personality and willingness to talk and communicate with anybody and his success on the field, he really has the complete package. I think he's started to own that a little bit."
Reasnover has owned opponents during the Red Devils' eight-game win streak. After not scoring in the season's first two games, both narrow losses, he has been unstoppable.
There has been no recurrence of ankle injuries that hampered him the past two years. He worked in the offseason to strengthen them, part of a newfound commitment to weight training.
"I was one of those guys in high school who wasn't too much into the weight room," Reasnover said. "Once you get on the field and see guys getting bigger, stronger, faster every year, it pushes you to want to be the best athlete you can be."
After entering Eureka College at 5-8 and 225 pounds, Reasnover lost weight and has begun to reshape his body. He is now at 205, much of it in legs that are "very powerful," his coach said.
There has been an awakening academically as well. Like many freshmen, Reasnover had to adjust to college classes the first year.
"In high school, the teachers kind of help you. In college, you're on your own," he said. "I really had to get hold of some things on my own. That helped me be better on and off the field."
His coach likes it, too. Reasnover's midterm grade reports this semester were outstanding, leaving the follicly challenged Kurt Barth to say, "I might be able to grow my hair out again."
A criminal justice major, Reasnover said his mother, Katina Hankins, was a correctional officer for many years. His brother, Maurice, is in the U.S. Army.
Discipline, honor and justice are "kind of a family thing," he said.
On the field, Reasnover has worked in concert with veteran linemen Ryan Barth, Michael Slingsby, Jake Price, Tyler Willdrick and Jordan Lamb. He also has burst through holes opened by fullback Wesley Burris.
The strong bond between ballcarrier and blockers has led to some astounding games. After each, Reasnover's cellphone goes crazy when word gets out.
"Sometimes I have to silence it," he said. "Other times, I like seeing how everybody feels about it."
What's not to like?
The bar is high.
And getting higher.