ENGLEWOOD — Almost a decade ago the Denver Broncos took a chance on a former Air Force offensive lineman Ben Garland.
Fast forward to present day, Garland is still in the league playing most recently for the San Francisco 49ers. Now the Broncos are taking another chance on another local Falcon football standout who, just like Garland, is born and raised in Colorado.
"I grew up watching this team," explained Broncos rookie offensive lineman Nolan Laufenberg. "I have been a fan of them ever since I was growing up and to be able to play for them is really cool"
The Castle Rock native never thought he would get to football's biggest stage.
"I think my family is out of this world excited," explained Laufenberg. "However much I'm excited they are probably twice as much excited."
The man who sports the number 69 at Broncos training camp practice never imagined his football career would go this far.
"When you are in high school you always say football has to end at some point for everyone. So my decision to go to the Air Force Academy was kind of due to the lineage in my family with a bunch of Air Force people and just setting myself up for when football is over."
Yet now, the former Air Force All-American is playing for the hometown team, something his former Falcon teammates & coaches aren't surprised by.
"He is an NFL-caliber type of guy," said Air Force running back Brad Roberts. "Just following directions and hardest workers in the room, he has what it takes to go the NFL, for sure."
"It will be kind of interesting to see, in a couple of years, where they are too," added Falcon head coach Troy Calhoun.
But for right now Laufenberg's attention is simple: adjust to the NFL game.
"Coming from the Air Force Academy there isn't a lot of passing, so learning pass blocking and stuff like that," added the 6'3, 312 IBS lineman.
Because the second lieutenant knows nothing is guaranteed.
"Getting as much knowledge as I can from the veteran players, working with the coaches and just keep improving my technique. Everything that I can work on in that facet and keeping my nose to the grind so I do not get distracted by all of the outside things is how I am going to try to make the roster."
In order the play for the Broncos, Laufenberg, with the approval of the United State Secretary of Defense, had to delay his service time to the U.S. Air Force for five years. Nolan has the option to begin his service time earlier if he want to end his NFL career or can pay back the Air Force Academy for his tuition, if he want to continue his NFL career after 5 years.