It was a long time coming for wide receiver Dustin Ebner.
In his 18th career game, the Arvada, Colo., native was finally able to taste touchdown glory in the second quarter of Colorado's 42-14 loss to UCLA.
With the Buffaloes knocking on the Bruins' door for their first score of the game, quarterback Jordan Webb found Ebner on a short post-route. After catching the ball, Ebner maneuvered himself between two defenders and walked into the end zone for his first career touchdown. At the time, the touchdown cut UCLA's lead to 14-7.
As soon as the ball was snapped, Ebner said he knew he had a chance to score.
"When I got to the line of scrimmage, I saw their corner was in press coverage," Ebner said. "Jordan backpedaled and I saw their safety back off. My eyes got big because I knew it was going to be a big play."
The touchdown might have been a culmination of four-and-a-half years of hard work for Ebner, which began as a walk-on after the first day of fall classes in 2008.
After redshirting the 2008 campaign, Ebner saw action in eight games the following season, catching three passes for 15 yards.
However while most student-athletes usually see an increase in playing time after getting their feet wet as freshmen, Ebner wasn't able to as he missed the first half of the 2010 season with a broken fibula, suffered in the team's first full scrimmage of training camp. He was finally able to dress in the 10th game of that season, but he watched the entire final three contests from the sidelines.
He played a little bit in the 2011 season, but with the team lacking wide receivers in 2012, Ebner has seen the most playing time of his career in the first five games this season. He made his second career start in week two versus Sacramento State and picked up a 41-yard catch the following week against Fresno State.
And along with his touchdown, Ebner finished the week five contest versus UCLA with two catches for 28 yards, marking his first multi-reception game of his career.
"Dustin is a fifth-year senior, he is a kid that has been here and worked hard," said coach Jon Embree. "I was happy for him. He made a few plays out there (against UCLA). It was good for him to make that play (the touchdown catch) in traffic."
For Ebner, the hard work paid off not only in the game with the Bruins but also after last season as Embree and his coaching staff offered him a scholarship during spring practices.
"It was one of the best feelings I've ever felt," Ebner said of being put on scholarship. "When I was a freshman coming in here, I didn't think that I would have an opportunity to earn a scholarship. I thought I was going to just be a part of the team and I was going to do what I was asked. To get a scholarship and to be playing for the Buffs has meant the world to me."
Already a University of Colorado graduate-he got his degree Ecology and Evolutionary Biology in December 2011-Ebner is currently finishing up some prerequisite courses for dental school and is still just helping out where he can on the football field.
"I come here every day to work. I just put in the effort," Ebner said. "These coaches are outstanding. I know that they are going to put the right people in the game at the right time. I go with the flow and do what I can do."
As the 2012 season continues, expect Ebner to be targeted more, and hopefully his touchdown catch versus the Bruins won't be his last.
However, he will always remember his first one.
"It was awesome," Ebner said.