Tom Phillips is named the round 9 NAB AFL Rising Star nominee after tallying 24 disposals in the Magpies' stirring 18-point win against Hawthorn.
Parts of his game required work as a 16-year-old who failed to make the Eastern Ranges' cut. The Oakleigh Chargers gave him a chance after a year of playing for Caulfield Grammar.
Phillips spent a second year at TAC Cup level as an overage player before Collingwood selected him with the No.58 pick in 2015.
"I wasn't too physically developed or ready at that stage, in their opinion, to be what they wanted and it's almost done a service to me," Phillips said.
"It pushed me harder to want to achieve what I always set out to achieve – to play at the top level.
"Finally getting the opportunity at Oakleigh was really great for me to be able to showcase my talents … everything that's come towards me I've tried to take with open arms."
Phillips won a bronze medal at the national championships in the under-17 2km steeplechase in 2011 and represented Victoria three times in cross-country running.
"That nervous energy, adrenaline and anxiety when you're running is not too dissimilar to when you step out in front of 50,000 to 100,000 people on the MCG," he said.
"There is still that fire in the belly and energy to compete and beat the guy next to you … it's a contest, whether it be running or whether it be hunting the football – it doesn't matter.
"I have that ultimate belief in myself I can outrun anyone."