My path to the pros
All-Pro fullback Le'Ron McClain recalls the days before he got paid to play
My mom says I would stand in front of the TV and watch football all the time growing up. So when I was 6, she signed me up for flag football at the Fort Wayne, Ind., Boys & Girls Club. I also played baseball and basketball.
I was on the Redskins in my youth football league, and one game we were playing against the Raiders, who we could never beat. But I had four sacks and ran a fumble back for a touchdown. I was probably 7 or 8 years old; it was one of my best games as a kid.
The middle school days
We moved to Alabama going into the second semester of sixth grade. My mom wanted to move there. That's where, as a 14-year-old, I met coach Lattimore, who was a great mentor to me. He knew my mom worked a lot, so he'd always come to the other side of town to get me for practice and make sure I was on time for games. I just thought that was a really special thing because I could tell he cared about me.
The high school days
I played both basketball and football through my sophomore year at Tuscaloosa County High. But after thinking about how to take my career to another level, I decided to focus solely on football. It worked. I formed a weightlifting/conditioning program with some of my high school friends and had two big seasons as a junior and senior. I was the No. 2-ranked fullback in my class, and was recruited by Alabama, Auburn, Mississippi State, Tennessee and Georgia. My running back coach at Alabama, Sparky Woods, always said, "Approach practice like a professional and you'll get to the next level." He was right.
More rising stars retrace their paths to the pros:
Maya Gabeira | Paul Goldschmidt | Brandon Jennings | Cam Newton | Jozy Altidore | Ashton Eaton | Maya Moore | Michael Crabtree | Ian Kinsler | C.J. Wilson | Nnamdi Asomugha | Bernard Pollard | Richard Seymour | Michelle Wie | Brittany Lincicome | Gordon Hayward | DeMarcus Cousins | Matt Flynn | Jairus Byrd | Rey Maualuga | Domata Peko | Le'Ron McClain | Glen Perkins | Jeff Halpern | Jay Feely
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