"I wanted to come here and I wanted to win a national championship," linebacker Eric Reimer said after the Bearcats clinched a spot in the 2013 NCAA Division II National Championship.
Jason Jozaites is no different.
After seeing Northwest in the 2009 title game, he knew that's where he wanted to be.
"It was one of those things where I said to myself, 'how cool would it be to play in a game that big and be on ESPN,'" Jozaites said.
And Bearcat head coach Adam Dorrel looks for football players that want to take their team to the big stage.
"We want a kid that wants to win. If a kid consistently talks about winning over other things," Dorrel said, "that's one of those things as a coaching staff where we say let's make this work."
The junior wide receiver grew up just 22 miles away from Chicago. And after earning all-state honors for football and hockey at Downers Grove South High School, he hoped to head to Michigan to play for Division II powerhouse Grand Valley State. But the Lakers turned him away.
"I was actually told that I wasn't big enough to go there to play," Jozaites said.
That's when he found Northwest.
"I just happened to be flipping through the TV, saw this game -- the 2009 national championship game on TV. I saw Northwest doing some great things against Grand Valley. And I'll tell you what, at that moment in my head I said you know what, I need to contact these guys."
Once Jozaites got to campus, he found out what it would take to succeed watching former all-conference receivers Jake Soy and Tyler Shaw work.
"Not a lot of people got to experience how hard of workers those guys are, and that was something I saw since my first day here. It really kind of helped my mentality of how I need to be in the weight room, how I need to be training on the field on those off-days."
Now Jozaites and the rest of his team's work has Northwest back in the promised land for the first time since 2009.
"It's a great experience. It's a great feeling. It's one of those things that you're going to remember for the rest of your life."