With grins from ear-to-ear as their friends and family looked on, David Keys, Bradley Adamson and Errol Dennis put pen to paper on Wednesday afternoon.
The Merced High trio joined the thousands of high school athletes around the nation who faxed off their letters of intent to four-year universities on national signing day.
Despite their efforts to keep their cool, the emotions of the moment got to all three over the course of the ceremony.
"Since I was like 12, this has been a dream of mine." said Dennis, who will attending NAIA Southern Oregon University in the fall. "It means so much that my family is here to be a part of it."
Never miss a local story.
Keys echoed those sentiments and gave an impassioned thank you to his grandfather who couldn't attend.
"It means a lot to have all my family out here. I couldn't have asked for anything better," Keys said. "Today is a dream come true."
Dennis is part of a 34-man class -- including Buhach colony's Leon Miles -- for a Raider squad that reached the quarterfinals in 2012.
"I really liked the campus. It's really nice up there," Dennis said. "I liked the coaches, the environment. I'm excited for the opportunity."
Adamson and Keys opted to stick to a pact the best friends had made long ago. The pair signed with Division 2 Black Hills State in South Dakota, completing a 31-man class for the Yellow Jackets.
"We'd always said if one school was on us a lot we'd try to mention the other's name to stay together in life," Adamson said. "They really showed me a lot of love and were surprised no one else had come along and grabbed me up, so that was pretty nice.
"It's a excellent program and they run the same stuff we do here, so that's part of the excitement."
Bears head coach Rob Scheidt said Wednesday afternoon was the culmination of four years of hard work both on the field and in the classroom.
"Our job as educators is to move kids on, so this is a good day," Scheidt said. "The kids went out and did a great job of promoting themselves and getting their names out there.
"I hardly had to be involved, which is great. It shows that they're motivated kids who are willing to go out and make what they want happen.
"They did a great job on the field and in the classroom and are all getting some kind of financial support from the schools."