Top North Melbourne draft pick Tarryn Thomas spent much of last year in awe of club captain Jack Ziebell.
To the point that Thomas was left pinching himself everytime he was able to have a conversation or just be in the same room with the noted Kangaroos hardman.
After enduring an arduous summer test at Arden Street, Thomas has finally accepted he is a part of the same team.
"I've settled in very well," Thomas told The Examiner.
"Right into the preseason now and playing in all the practice games with the boys.
"They've taken me under their wing and I am pretty happy with that."
For a change, it was nervous whispers at first from a few Prospect High students.
Thomas arrived back at his former school on Thursday for the first time since leaving for Melbourne, walking out of the back seat of the car with his mobile phone clutched tightly to his ear.
He just looked the part of a star in the making.
But underneath the North colours, Thomas was just as happy to talk shop with footy hopefuls Jack Chapman, Job Woods and Brayden Fellows.
The 2018 No.8 pick for the Kangaroos was even happier to be in familiar surrounds.
"I'm just here to show them my face, see the teachers and that, but I'm pretty happy to come back," he cheekily said.
"I want to be a role model to the younger boys. I just want them to look up to me, just being a Tassie boy."
He may have once relocated from Sydney's outer west at just 12 and back then was even a part of the Penrith Panthers Academy, but today Thomas takes a lot of pride being called a Tasmanian.
That move south ensured the elusive half-forward's destiny as North's inaugural academy selection last year.
Even AFL draft guru Kevin Sheahan nominated Thomas a certain top-10 pick two years earlier (he nominated Thomas at pick No.4).
"I've formed a good relationship with them over the years I'd been at the next generation academy," he said. "I thought that it all opened my eyes a bit so I feel I'm lucky I got drafted there."
Before North Melbourne, there was North Launceston.
Indisputably the most professional of all Tasmanian clubs after four premierships in five years, the Northern Bombers played their role in shaping the 18-year-old.
Thomas paid tribute to his three coaches - Zane Littlejohn, Tom Couch and Taylor Whitford - for bringing him up to AFL speed.
"Zane particularly helped me a fair bit in my first couple of years," he said.
"Taylor Whitford as captain took me under his wing, showed me his style and how he wanted me to train. So I feel I was pretty fortunate to play under them all."
Thomas still extends his modesty to his ambitions.
Despite the big raps, don't expect Thomas to be gunning for an opening-round game.
"Not really - I'm just taking it week by week," he said.