Living the NFL dream: Central grad Garland excited to join Broncos
Ben Garland had two childhood dreams, and will get a chance to fulfill both.
The former Central High School defensive lineman signed a free-agent contract with the Denver Broncos this week.
“I was a big Broncos fan growing up,” Garland said. “This is a dream come true. When I was little, I had two dreams, going to the Air Force Academy and being a Denver Bronco.”
The 6-foot-5, 275-pound nose tackle is one of 19 post-draft free agents signed by the Broncos. He joins former Fruita Monument standout Riar Geer, who signed over the weekend after finishing his career at Colorado.
They report Thursday for the team’s rookie minicamp in Denver.
The Broncos attended Garland’s pro day workout in the spring. Garland said he also received interest from the New Orleans Saints.
After Garland graduates from the Academy, he gets a 60-day leave within a 90-day period. He hopes to use that window to complete training camp.
If Garland makes the team, he’ll have to figure out a way to honor his minimum two-year active duty commitment with the Air Force while training and working out with the Broncos.
“Hopefully, I’ll make the team and serve my two years now,” Garland said. “My first responsibility is to uphold my duty to the Air Force. I may have to work a creative schedule. It will be very tricky, but it takes a lot of hard work to achieve any dream.
“I may get up early to serve the Air Force, then go to the Broncos and finish with the Air Force late (at night).”
Garland, who majored in systems engineering management, started two years for the Falcons’ nationally ranked defense. He earned second-team All-Mountain West Conference honors in 2009 despite playing most of the season with a broken left hand. He led Air Force in tackles for a loss with 10.5 for 46 yards and sacks with 4.5 for 30 yards. Garland recorded 45 total tackles, broke up two passes and forced one fumble.
“Ben Garland has been an outstanding cadet at the Air Force Academy,” Air Force coach Troy Calhoun said in a press release. “I know Ben, like so many young men who were terrific college football players, also holds a dream to one day play in the National Football League.
“I completely back Ben’s priorities of earning his commission as an Academy graduate in five weeks, serving as a fine officer in the world’s best Air Force, and in the future, pursuing a possible opportunity to play in NFL regular season and playoff games.”