You've battled through spring practice and come out on top. You've won the starting job on an SEC football team.
The preseason media guide arrives and there's your name on top of the depth chart. It's even written in boldface because you're the starter.
So when, exactly, do you pump your fist and celebrate?
"Never,'' Daryl Vereen said with conviction Tuesday. "Never.
"It's never your spot. There's always somebody that's coming for it. You've got to come to work.''
Vereen is no freshman in the school of hard knocks. A senior who has moved from running back to safety to outside linebacker and given up his body on special teams, he emerged from spring as Tennessee's starting "Sam" linebacker.
He started one game last fall. But in 2011, he would be out there with the No. 1 defense in front of 100,000 fans on opening day.
The depth chart that shaped up at the end of spring is already looking obsolete. The cavalry has arrived in the form of Derek Dooley's latest recruiting class.
The Vols held their first scrimmage of camp Tuesday at Neyland Stadium. It's a whole new deal from the Orange & White Game.
"It looks significantly different at a lot of positions,'' Dooley said, comparing April to August.
Different as in deeper, bigger, more physical, more athletic. When the No. 1 defense took the field
Tuesday, true freshmen Curt Maggitt and A.J. Johnson went out ahead of Vereen and John Probst at linebacker.
"Those guys are big and physical,'' said Dooley, not even attempting to disguise his enthusiasm. "They're playing fast and aggressive. They just bring a presence we have not had at the linebacker position.''
Anthony Anderson, another senior on top of the preseason depth chart at cornerback, appears to have been overtaken by true freshman Justin Coleman.
Daniel Hood, a pleasant spring surprise as an emerging starter at defensive tackle, is fighting to keep his spot against the challenge of junior college transfer Maurice Couch.
"If he's a better player at this position, then go,'' Hood said, "because I'd rather see us get 10 wins and me playing no snaps than us getting no wins and me playing 40 snaps.''
Hood has been holding his ground nicely, but it's still early.
Dooley has shown no reluctance to push newcomers into the line of fire at the expense of veterans. In 2010, nine different freshmen combined for 52 starts.
"We're so used to playing freshmen around here,'' said Dooley, "we don't know what it's like not to have to get a freshman ready to play.''
So for veterans who have paid their dues, it's a bittersweet dilemma. You help the new guys through the transition to college, even though you know they're coming for your job.
It's part of the game. Quarterback Matt Simms did it last year, lending a helping veteran hand to young Tyler Bray, who took Simms' job in November and never looked back.
Vereen said he "bleeds orange." Thus, if his role is reduced to playing only in specific formations, he'll still show young Maggitt the ropes and cheer him on.
And feeling sorry for yourself is not allowed.
"You've got to keep your head up and go with the blows,'' Vereen said.
"If you keep your head down, you'll get left behind.''