Kyle DeVan starting in the Super Bowl smashes the cookie cutter used by NFL scouts.
The former Oregon State offensive lineman's journey to the biggest pro football game of the year wasn't linear. There were so many setbacks he almost quit.
At one point he tried to get on with his life as a substitute teacher and assistant wrestling coach in his hometown of Vacaville, Calif.
He gave his dream a final shot, and it turned into a starting job with the Indianapolis Colts, a stellar season at right guard and a showdown with the New Orleans Saints on Feb. 7 in Miami.
"It has been fun, a dream come true," DeVan said. "I would have never envisioned it. I'm so thankful to be here. I'm just trying to take advantage of my opportunity."
DeVan was an undrafted free agent with the Washington Redskins in July 2008. Scouts told the 6-foot-2, 306-pounder he was too short, small and slow to be drafted.
He was released two months later and quickly signed with the New York Jets, then released again a month later.
The Jets put him on the practice squad for the season and then released him at the end of the season.
With no options for the 2009 season he returned home and tried to figure out what do. DeVan's agent, Leo Goeas, kept looking for a team for him, and tried to keep him motivated.
"He just had to stay with it and be in shape and he did," Goeas said. "Nothing was given to Kyle. He had to earn it, and he has more than solidified himself. Now he has to take advantage of something most only dream of."
What inspired DeVan were the wrestlers he worked with at his high school. He was a California state heavyweight champion in high school, and seeing their work reminded him of his old desire.
Goeas found DeVan an opportunity with the Boise Burn, a team in the now-defunct Arena Football League. DeVan played three games in the spring of 2009.
"It was a great decision to play there," DeVan said. "It humbled me. It took me back to my roots. It showed me that I still loved the game, and I loved playing it."
Out of the blue in April, the Colts called looking for a spare lineman. They needed a versatile athlete who could play all three positions since they suit up seven linemen a game.
He worked out with the team and signed a two-year deal later that night. Then he started learning the system and getting ready for the season.
"The timing was great," Goeas said. "I just kept his name out there, and he was ready to go when they called. He was in shape and had a great workout. The rest was learning the system. It's a complex system."
DeVan was just another body in training camp, but he worked and studied hard. Little by little he was given more opportunities and became a fixture on the second and first string in practice.
The ability to see the entire play develop helped him feel confident running the plays at all three line positions.
"Their offense is a brilliant offense, but it takes a brilliant guy to learn it," Goeas said. "When he got to training camp he had enough understanding and confidence to make it. Now he can keep up with Peyton (Manning) as he checks into different plays."
DeVan was inactive early then became one of the seven who suited up. He played in 15 regular season games, starting nine.
A rotation started in the third week and by the eighth week he was a starter.
"My goals were to get on a team, play and then start," DeVan said. "I reached those goals early. The coaches say they are going to put the five best linemen out there."
DeVan continued his success through the playoffs.
He had never attended an NFL playoff game as a fan before and didn't know what to expect, but after the first play he adjusted and it was just like any other game.
"I've tried to enjoy the last few weeks," DeVan said. "I was nervous that first (playoff) game. I'm sure the Super Bowl in Miami is going to be crazy, but the Colts played in the game there in 2007, so they'll be able to show me how it's done."
To get some insight into the life a Super Bowl competitor, DeVan called former OSU teammate Adam Koets during the bye week to find out what to expect in how things go. Koets played in the Super Bowl with the New York Giants in 2008.
Super Bowl week will be busy for DeVan between preparations for the Saints and being a celebrity. However, he plans to enjoy his rare and coveted position.
He wasn't supposed to be in the NFL, let alone the Super Bowl.
"The three inside (offensive linemen) guys on the team, we all had to battle to get where we are," DeVan said. "That's what makes this sweet. We are still too short, small and slow. But in football what matters is how you perform."