All Cody Stufflebean really needed was an offer.
What Kansas State coach Chris Klieman delivered only confirmed it.
"Ever since I was little, the family has always went up there (and) my aunt graduated from there," said Stufflebean, who will sign his football letter of intent with Kansas State after school Wednesday on the first day of the NCAA's early signing period. "I've always been affiliated with it, and once I got the offer from coach Klieman, the offer felt a little bit different than all the other ones.
"That's when I kind of knew that K-State was the right fit for me."
K-State is expected to sign a majority of its 21 known commitments Wednesday for a class that is ranked between 40 and 50 nationally by recruiting analysts.
Stufflebean, a 6-foot-4, 245-pound multi-sport standout at McPherson High School, played defensive end and tight end for the Bullpups, but is listed as an athlete by recruiting services. He isn't sure where he will end up at K-State, but he is positive he made the right decision.
Family loyalty clearly played a role, but it was Klieman and his assistants who sealed the deal.
"I think it's definitely how real the coaching staff is," said Stufflebean, who committed to the Wildcats in June. "Because, whenever you call and talk to them, you don't just talk about what you're wanting to talk about.
"He talks about the family and how life's going and how he is and everything. It's just like you're having a regular conversation with any person, not the head coach of a new program that did really well this year."
Stufflebean already had received Division I track and field attention as a javelin thrower, but it wasn't until after Klieman took over the K-State program last December that he became a football recruiting target for the Wildcats.
His first football offer came from Akron last spring, and that immediately put him on the national radar.
Other Mid-American Conference schools came calling, and in short order Virginia Tech, Wisconsin and K-State were on his trail. Virginia Tech, Wisconsin and Colorado were his other three Power Five conference offers.
But it was clear that K-State was the favorite.
"He's grown up going to Kansas State football games forever and it's always been a dream of his," McPherson coach Jace Pavlovic said. "He did have some really good offers and he did want to look into some of those, but when he got to meet with the (K-State) staff one-on-one, he fell in love with it.
"They also have a great engineering program, and that's what he wants to go into."
After committing to K-State, Stufflebean did not disappoint on the field for McPherson, which advanced to the Class 4A state semifinals for a second straight year. He was rewarded with all-state honors from most print and online publications, including The Topeka Capital-Journal.
As a tight end, Stufflebean caught only 12 passes for 193 yards, but six of them went for touchdowns. He also had 44 tackles, including eight for loss with four sacks and 28 quarterback hurries at defensive end.
"He's a tremendous athlete, a multi-sport athlete," Pavlovic said of Stufflebean, who also excels on the basketball court for the Bullpups. "He changes direction really well and has great ball skills and it just happens that he's 6-foot-5, 245 pounds to boot.
"He's tremendously athletic, he's got the size (and) his work ethic is there. The kid never stops working, never stops grinding, he never stops competing, so when you've got all those things working for you, he's going to be a pretty special athlete."
Stufflebean has spoken both with K-State offensive coordinator Courtney Messingham, who also works with tight ends, and defensive ends coach Buddy Wyatt. But he still doesn't know where he ultimately will be deployed by the Wildcats.
Not that it's an issue for him.
"Honestly, I don't care where I play if I get on the field in front of 56,000 people in a game that's on national television," he said.
Messingham's offense relies heavily on fullback/tight end hybrids, and the Wildcats graduate two of their top three defensive ends, so there should be opportunities at either position.
"He'd be a great tight end, fullback type, but he's just a natural at the defensive end position," Pavlovic said. "I wouldn't be surprised to see him on either side of the ball.
"But even at that level, I think he can be a really special defensive end."
Signing day will bring closure to the recruiting portion of the process for Stufflebean, though he is more interested in what lies ahead.
"I'd definitely say it's kind of exciting, but at this point it's just kind of putting a pen to paper," he said. "It's not like I actually get to go up there and report for summer camp and being a part of the team and start lifting and stuff.
"But it's definitely a little bit exciting."