If you play football at Notre Dame, then the story of Rudy Ruettiger – the underprivileged, undersized defensive end who defied great odds to gain admission to the school and make the team – has been engraved into each and every player for years.
Likewise, the University of Texas has its own legend, Freddie Steinmark: a talented, but undersized safety who earned a scholarship to play for the Longhorns in 1968 and 1969 but passed away after the discovery that he had played through a season with a cancerous bone tumor just above his left knee.
But, unlike Rudy, whose story was turned into a hit movie, Steinmark's legend has not often been mentioned among the great sports tales in American history.
Friday marks the official release date for the movie "My All-American," in which actor Finn Wittrock portrays Steinmark's true, inspiring story.
The movie is a must-see – and, of course, is a tear-jerker (even for the toughest of football fans) – but as you wipe your eyes during the closing credits, Redskins fans will notice a familiar name being acknowledged: quarterback Colt McCoy.
McCoy – himself a two-time All-American for the Longhorns – played a large role in recruiting players for a tryout meant to find players to make the football scenes "look good and look real" on screen.
It was McCoy's first foray as a "general manager," he said jokingly.
"So we went out and recruited a bunch of guys, had tryouts and I was out there helping them," McCoy said. "A lot of those ended up being some of my old teammates, and I tried to get the word out."
McCoy said he also had a hand in trying to "make sure everything in the story was accurate and real," which was the No. 1 objective of "My All-American's" director Angelo Pizzo (who wrote "Rudy" and "Hoosiers") and producer Paul Schiff.
"I was able to get a hold of just about everybody who was still alive from that team, knew Freddy, and then the producers would sit down and just talk," he said. "We wanted to make sure all the accounts that we have from books and history are all the same and accurate."
McCoy – who doesn't make a cameo in the movie, but found roles for both of his brothers – held a special screening of "My All-American" Nov. 2 for select Washington, D.C.,-area high school football players via the Fellowship of Christian Athletes to inspire them to become better leaders in their communities.
"You guys are leaders of your school and that's one of the reasons I wanted you guys to come out here is because this is a great movie and a great story, but you guys are writing your own story," McCoy told the students. "Live the life that you want to live and live the life that Jesus has called on you to live. Be the man you know you're supposed to be. Be the example."
Also in attendance that night were several of McCoy's teammates, including linebackers and former Texas stars Keenan Robinson and Jackson Jeffcoat, who were glad to see Steinmark's story hit the big screen.
"That was something Coach [Mack] Brown talked about a lot," Jeffcoat said. "He used to say like, 'We want guys to play like Freddie Steinmark. Give your all for Texas.' Like the guy was tough, he had character, and he just worked his butt off."
Jeffcoat gave credit to McCoy and the rest of the film crew for keeping close to Steinmark's story – and the Texas pride that comes with it.
"Yeah, I thought it was realistic – I liked it," he said. "I thought they did a really good job. The guys were athletic, they could move. They didn't just have some random guys in there."
McCoy said he enjoyed seeing the entire movie-making process in action, from start to finish.
"I certainly wouldn't say I'm in the movie industry, but it was cool to watch how it all came together, how it all happened, kind of step-by-step," he said. "I think the main reason behind this movie, and behind the privately-funded part of it, is that they wanted to put something on screen that a whole family could go watch, enjoy, and leave that movie theater feeling like they just spent their money in the right way and got a good inspirational true message from, and I'm all about that."
And what did McCoy think of the final product?
"When I first saw it, it was awesome," said McCoy, who has seen "My All-American" a few more times since that initial screening. "I watched it with the guys who were on that team. They're old men now, but it was fun to just be in the same room as them. Those guys were real emotional, and it brought back a lot of memories for them. So that was a pretty surreal moment for me."