When Tope Imade's recruiting process comes to an end next February, he, coaches, friends and teammates could look back on this month and say one thing: It was the deadlift that started it all.
What began as Imade, a 2016 3-star interior offensive lineman from Arlington, Texas, simply accepting a challenge from his coach is quickly turning into an impressive athletic feat that's turning the heads of college coaches. Last week, Imade set the Bowie High School deadlift record by picking up 515 pounds.
The previous record of 500 pounds was held by 2015 4-star offensive tackle Madison Akamnonu, who signed with Texas Tech last month. Imade, who measured in last week at 6'5" and a slim-looking 320 pounds, finished the feat surrounded by screaming teammates who were excited for the powerful athlete.
"My coach kept challenging me to add more weight. He kept adding, and I kept lifting," Imade said. "Eventually, it got to 515, and I got it up.
"It was heavy, but I had my teammates there encouraging me."
Bowie head coach Danny DeArman watched Imade deadlift 450 pounds in athletics class earlier in the week. Imade wanted to attempt more then, but they ran out of class time. Imade went to DeArman and told him he wanted to finish what he started.
DeArman said Imade lifted 450 pounds, then 475. After that, Imade was on a mission.
"He asked me what the record was," DeArman said. "I told him it was 500. He said, 'I want 515.'
"I whistled and got the players to gather around. I told them he was going for a new record. When he lifted it off the ground and got it to his mid-thigh, he paused it, and all of the kids went crazy."
The deadlift video made its way around social media, and it ultimately helped Imade land his two biggest offers to date. On Monday, he was offered by both Washington and Texas Tech. Imade now has six offers, the others being Texas State, Arkansas State, Illinois State and Tulane.
"I didn't even know my coach was videotaping," Imade said. "After the video, I started getting more interest. I think it had an impact on recruiting."
When Imade picked up the Texas Tech offer, he rewarded the program for being the first Big 12 school to take a chance on him. He told Daniel Paulling of 247Sports that the Red Raiders automatically will be in his top three.
DeArman calls Imade "Grizzly Bear" because he "doesn't know if he knows his own strength." Imade currently has a 325-pound bench press and a 500-pound squat, but DeArman said he hasn't been tested to his full potential. Imade said he wants to deadlift 600 before he graduates high school.
Imade added that he hopes the video will help him add more offers to his growing list. He's ready to show what type of lineman he can be at the collegiate level.
"I want to show I'm a great run-blocker," Imade said. "I'm also a great pass-blocker with a really good work ethic."
As for continuing his efforts in the weight room?
"I'm always going to attack the weights," he said.
Damon Sayles is a National Recruiting Analyst with Bleacher Report. All quotes were obtained firsthand. Player ratings are courtesy of 247Sports' composite ratings. Follow Damon via Twitter: @DamonSayles