August 26 2012; Denver, CO, USA; Denver Broncos defensive end Ben Garland (63) rushes the line during the fourth quarter of a preseason game against the San Francisco 49ers at Sports Authority Field. The 49ers defeated the Broncos 29-24. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports
If there’s one player I’m rooting for harder than others to make the 53-man roster in 2014 for the Denver Broncos, it’s Ben Garland.
Garland is a college defensive end/defensive tackle turned offensive guard who has been growing in that role over the past year since spending yet another season on the Broncos’ practice squad.
For those of you who aren’t familiar with the story, let me catch you up. Garland was a college free agent, part of the same rookie class as Demaryius Thomas, Zane Beadles, Eric Decker, and Tim Tebow, but he came to the team to try out and work in camp knowing that he would not be able to even compete to make the roster until 2012, when he’d return from a two-year commitment to the Air Force.
Garland was picked up by the Josh McDaniels regime, and has stuck on the roster in some capacity despite all the change at the top with decision makers. In fact, the team has thought so highly of Garland, that he has competed in the pre-season and on the practice squad as both a defensive lineman as well as now a guard, the position where he has hopefully made his home and found a way to stick on this Broncos’ roster.
There’s no better time for Garland to do it than this year, after so much shuffling around the offensive line with players coming and going, guys getting hurt, etc. The Broncos have solid depth across the offensive line, but that doesn’t mean there are not spots open for competition. Prior to Orlando Franklin officially moving inside to the left guard spot, the Denver Post considered Garland a sleeper candidate to start at that position this year.
If he looks better at left guard in camp than Franklin, that could very well be the case and Franklin could flip back over to the right tackle spot.
But there’s a lot more to like about Garland than his work on the field, his dedication to his craft and being open and willing to changing positions. In addition to serving our country, Garland is one of the most active Broncos in the community and recently hosted the ‘Bags to the Future’ fundraiser. Per the official team site:
The bag toss tournament was held to benefit SoDE Solutions, a non-profit organization Garland and friends from the Air Force Academy started about five years ago.
The group currently works in 15 countries with a mission of “creating sustainability and changing economic situations in order to be part of the solution in ending sex-trafficking and furthering missions.”
Garland’s impact strikes deep in the community, but it’s impressive the amount of respect he has commanded from his teammates. His actions off the field have spoken so much louder than anything he’s accomplished to this point in the NFL, aside from the fact that despite not having played in a single game, he’s managed to stick on the Broncos’ roster in some capacity since the 2010 NFL Draft.
“Ben’s kind of like a role model for me,” Malik Jackson said. “I want to do as much as I can for the community.”
“When you have things like this with guys that have their foundations, you really want to show up and say I’m a part of this.”
Garland has inspired so many in the Denver community, and he’s also inspiring his teammates. What an inspiration and story it would be if he were able to be part of the Broncos’ 53-man roster and suit up for that season opener against the Colts.
It would be an incredible moment that would stick with so many for a long time.
Garland has certainly set the example off the field, and this year he finally has an opportunity to stick and make the Broncos’ roster, something that’s been in the works since 2010 when he was coming out of the Air Force Academy.