Central grad Garland makes Broncos’ roster
Central High School graduate Ben Garland is proof dreams can come true with a little persistence.
Five years after signing with the Denver Broncos as a free agent, Garland, 26, made the final 53-man roster, the team announced Saturday.
“I remember watching the Broncos in Super Bowl XXXII and my mom taking me to the parade after they won it,” Garland said in a phone interview Saturday evening with The Daily Sentinel. “Ever since I was a little kid, I wanted to be an Air Force officer and play for the Broncos.
“Any kid out there in Grand Junction that wants to be a Bronco can do it. It’s like what Coach (John) Fox says, we decide who makes the team, not them.”
The Air Force Academy graduate originally signed with the Broncos in 2010 and competed with the team as a defensive end in the preseason before spending 2010 and 2011 on Denver’s reserve/military list while fulfilling his obligations to the Air Force.
Garland, a defensive end for the Falcons, returned to the Broncos in 2012 as a defensive tackle, but he was cut and placed on the practice squad. He switched to the offensive line last year, was cut again and placed on the practice squad.
The 6-foot-5, 308-pound lineman returned for another tryout this season and started for the first time in the Broncos’ preseason finale Thursday against the Dallas Cowboys in Arlington, Texas. He is listed second on the depth chart at left and right guard.
Garland credited his personal faith and training in the Air Force for making the team.
“He’s got that determination like no other,” Executive Vice President/General Manager John Elway said in an article on the Broncos’ website. “He’s very bright, and he’s tough, and he just worked his tail off to earn a roster spot on the team. He’s just going to continue to get better and better, too ... He’s got the qualities where we believe he can be a very good offensive lineman.”
The Broncos open the season against the Indianapolis Colts at 6:30 p.m. on Sept. 7 at Sports Authority Field at Mile High.
“Ben deserves it,” his former Central line coach Tony Santy said. “He worked hard and never stopped. He’s always had that mentality. I think (the Broncos) liked him all along.”
Garland was an All-Mountain West Conference selection at Air Force and a first-team all-state pick as a senior at Central, where he graduated in 2006.