From a town of 1,000 and a high school graduating class of 37, all the way to the Bears.
That's the path that Shea McClellin has journeyed, his life grounded by growing up on his grandparents' farm in Marsing, Idaho, and nurtured as a well-kept secret at Boise State. He was raised on that 20-acre farm on Chicken Dinner Road in Marsing after his grandparents adopted him as a toddler.
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"My mother didn't have enough money, and my dad didn't really want a part of me, I guess you could say," McClellin told the San Diego Union-Tribune last week. "But my mother was there for me. She tried as much as she could to see me, be there for me.
"(My grandparents) stepped up and did what they needed to do. More than anything, they taught me how to be humble, and that's something I'll (have) with me for the rest of my life."
Boise State coach Chris Petersen has known all along what NFL scouts realized this past season and many draft prognosticators didn't figure out until after the Bears chose him 19th overall.
"Shea McClellin is a trained assassin on the football field," Petersen told the Idaho Statesman. "That guy has been such an unbelievable player for a long time for us and completely and totally underrated, I think, in the public eye. I don't think so much in our opponents' eyes and certainly not in our coaches' eyes. I just think all that's coming to light right now."
McClellin has been under the radar for a long time, but that's understandable when a player comes from a tiny high school and then plays in the Mountain West Conference. He didn't coast to the big time. Often he toiled in relative obscurity, overshadowed by a prolific offense.
"I think it's very tough just because I came from a small school, and I wasn't rated very high," McClellin said Friday afternoon at Halas Hall. "Boise State really liked me. They thought I could do big things (and) it played a big role in my life. Coach 'Pete,' helped me out so much, not just for football but in life, teaching me to be a man. That's why, as a team, we're great. Props to coach Pete and the rest of the coaches there because they definitely get us right, not only as players but as young men as well."
No one disputes the speed, character or work ethic that helped McClellin pile up 16½ sacks the past two seasons. The level of competition he faced and his lack of size draw some scrutiny, but at 6-foot-3½ and 260 pounds, he ran a 4.63-second 40 at the Combine. The only defensive end who ran faster was West Virginia's 245-pound Bruce Irvin, who went 15th overall to the Seahawks.
Only three linebackers ran faster.
"To all the doubters, I'm going to have to go out there and prove myself, and I'm used to that," McClellin said. "I came from Boise State. We had to prove ourselves every week, so I'm used to that, and that's what I'm out to do every day."
It'll be different in Chicago, a town that, before Friday, McClellin had only experienced while on a layover en route to somewhere else. In his home town there's already a billboard dedicated to his Boise State exploits, and he's known to everyone by just his first name, as much due to the size of the town as his fame.
"There always some little adjustments," McClellin said. "Life off the field, people are going to treat you differently. On the field, just the speed of it (is different). For myself, I don't think that's an issue. I think for everyone it takes a little bit of time. Other than that, I think the hardest thing will probably be just the mental aspect of it. You've got to get your mind right for sure and just be able to handle everything."
McClellin doesn't have to do everything for the Bears, just give them a better pass rush than they had last season, when they were 29th, with just 33 sacks, 16 less than their opponents.
"I can't wait to play alongside (Julius) Peppers, (Brian) Urlacher, (Lance) Briggs, the whole defense," he said. "It's going to be awesome."