Frank Gore listened apprehensively as his high school coach outlined everything he had to accomplish in the classroom to realize his dream of playing college football.
The list was daunting.
"He broke down and started to cry," Coral Gables High coach Joe Montoya recalled. "I told him, 'If you really want to play, you have to do these things.'"
Frank Gore wanted to play football - that has never been in question.
Gore exhibits the same drive today as a second-year 49ers running back as when he was a junior in high school. He has overcome tremendous personal challenges to rank second in the NFL with 1,043 yards rushing, entering Sunday's game against the St. Louis Rams.
Gore set a 49ers-record with 212 rushing yards in a 20-14 victory against the Seattle Seahawks. He was named NFC offensive player of the week on Wednesday for the second time this season.
Yet, with all his natural ability and a relentless desire to maximize his football skills, Gore could have seen it all end after a record-setting high school career.
Gore was enrolled in special-education classes in English and math during his first two years at Coral Gables because of a learning disability, affecting his comprehension of written material.
Montoya knew if Gore did not make up credits from the two years of regular classes his missed, he would not qualify for college. His aspirations of a professional career would likely be finished.
"When he realized he was that far behind, Frank told me, 'I don't know if I can make up all this work,'" Montoya said. "I said, 'Yes, you can. You just have to take it one thing at a time.'"
Gore spent countless hours in night school and summer classes the next two years. There were times when Gore showed up late for football practice or had to leave early. Other times, he missed practices entirely when there were conflicts with his studies.
He entered high school with a reported third-grade reading level, but after an intense two years of work, Gore's reading skills had risen to 10th-grade level.
"I worked hard at it, and I had a lot of people help me," Gore said. "I went to a tutor and everything."
All the while, Gore lived in one of the roughest neighborhoods of Miami with his mother, Liz, a single mother of three who was battling kidney disease and had started dialysis treatments.
"He went through a lot and you could tell that it bothered him at times," Montoya said. "But his way out of everything would be to go to the field and just play and practice. That's how he dealt with it."
Through all the turmoil, Gore established himself as perhaps the greatest high-school running back South Florida has ever seen. He set a Dade County records with 2,953 yards and 34 touchdowns as a senior.
"We would run certain plays, traps and counters, and Frank would see it, hit it, turn the corner and ... see ya," Montoya said.
Gore turned down scholarships to several major NCAA Division I schools that were better equipped to handle his academic challenges, Montoya said. Gore decided on the University of Miami, so he could remain at home to assist his mother.