Two years ago, college soccer fans were only starting to get a glimpse of Virginia Tech's Patrick Nyarko.
The Ghanaian freshman terrorized opponents but few outside the ACC heard of him.
"He's the reason we're in every game," said Hokie coach Oliver Weiss after a 2-1 Tech win at Virginia in which Nyarko scored both goals. "He's a special kid and a special player."
Last year, Nyarko doubled his output from eight to 16 goals, but still remained a secret.
This year, with an influx of experienced players from England and Germany, Nyarko hasn't had to carry the Hokies, but his influence has grown.
Nyarko's winning goal against Old Dominion last weekend was only his sixth of the season but it moved the Hokies into the quarterfinals for the first time.
Finally, everyone is learning what Hokie fans have known for three seasons. Nyarko just might be the most talented player in college soccer.
But he ended up at Virginia Tech by accident.
Nyarko grew up speaking Twi in Kumasi, the capital of the Ashanti region, and learned English by watching ESPN and CNN on television.
Weiss had some soccer contacts in Ghana, and he stumbled upon Nyarko, whose father wanted him to concentrate on his studies and refused to let him play soccer in school.
Soccer and education were a hard sell when Weiss came calling, but Nyarko's father, a banker, relented after hearing of Tech's academics.
"If education wasn't involved, that conversation would have lasted maybe a minute," Patrick Nyarko told the Richmond Times-Dispatch. "My father would just say 'No.'"
Nyarko, a psychology major, and Joshua Boateng, another Ghanaian who has since transferred to Liberty, marveled at the academic facilities available to students when they arrived in Blacksburg in 2005.
Nyarko's father was put at ease.
Year GP-GS G-A-P
2005 15-12 8-6-22
2006 20-17 16-8-40
2007 20-17 6-10-22