CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (CBS19 SPORTS) -- The journey to signing day for Eb McCarthy Jr. was long, but the Albemarle star running back had a helping hand in his older brother Kevin, another former Patriot.

"More than just football, little things about how to be professional, talk to people, even during football practice, which hole to go through, who's going to come after the linebacker misses, just little stuff like that," McCarthy Jr. said about his brother Kevin, "Everything I've learned has pretty much been from him."

As Kevin's little brother, the bar was set high for Eb before he ever put on an Albemarle uniform, as a 12-year-old playing little league.

"You kind of see a kid from afar that looks different physically than everyone else and a lot of us were like 'who is that?' and when I looked at his frame and watched him run I already knew who he was, I was like 'that's Kevin's brother," Albemarle coach Brandon Isaiah said, who coached both Eb and his brother Kevin, "So from that moment on whether he knew it or not the expectations for him were going to be high."

Despite the clear potential, McCarthy was originally supposed to come along slowly as a backup. But when he was thrust into the spotlight as a sophomore, Eb exploded onto the scene for the Patriots with his performance in a 27-23 win over Charlottesville a prime example.

"Think he might have had like 30 carries or so and I just remember I kept handing him the football and I could see in his eyes, he wanted a break, but his pride wouldn't let him tell me he wanted a break," Isaiah said.

"Never ran so many times in my life, I was getting hit every single play by three people, all my highlights from that game there was like five people on my back. I don't know how I made it out of that game," McCarthy said, "30 carries it sounds chill, but it's not."

McCarthy rushed for more than 3,400 yards in his career, but it was not until this past season when Albemarle began to see the results in their record. The Patriots went from 4-8 in 2019 to 8-3 and co-Jefferson District champions, behind McCarthy's first team all-district season, rushing for more than 1,230 yards and 15 touchdowns.

"In 2019 is when [Philadelphia 76ers center] Joel Embiid started the 'Trust the Process' saying and that was just going around the media and I knew it would definitely carry on," McCarthy said, "It did hurt at the time, but it's life it's not supposed to be easy."

This year's team was led by predominately the group of sophomores who endured the 2019 season, as well as the 2020 COVID-19 shortened season.

"Last year's team was just a special group because we've been through so much with COVID, obviously struggling and trying to rebuild the program culture," Isaiah said, "These kids are pretty much the foundation of that resurgence."

The Patriot captain now prepares for his future running the ball for VMI, hoping to carry the flag with the Keydets as the first D-I football player out of Albemarle in nearly a decade.

"As long as they look up to me and see what I've done, know that it's not going to be easy, not one bit of it was easy," McCarthy said, "I think we'll have a lot more D-I athletes in the future."