May 28, 2012

Rookie Bio - Omar Bolden

As another season is upon us the Broncos secondary continues to age. As it seems to have become a yearly tradition, the Broncos try to infuse a little youth into the secondary. This year was no different as a number of changes were made to the secondary personal. One such player is Omar Bolden.

Omar Bolden was born December 20, 1988 in Ontario Califronia.

Date of birth: (1988-12-20) December 20, 1988 (age 23)
Place of birth: Ontario, California
Height: 5 ft 10 in (1.78 m) Weight: 202 lb (92 kg)

He graduated in spring 2011 with a B.I.S. degree in Interdisciplinary Studies (Justice Studies/Sociology).

Bolden attended Colony High School in Ontario, California, where he starred at running back and defensive back. Bolden was first brought up to Varsity as a Freshman against Ontario High School to play running back. This game was played at Chaparral high school due to a massive fire that prevented any local games from being played. His first two carries of his high school career resulted in fumbles.

As a senior he ran for 2,003 yards (143.1 yards per game) and 26 touchdowns and amassed over 2,500 all-purpose yards. He averaged 143.1 rushing yards-per-game as a senior and also caught nine passes for 150 yards (16.7 yards per catch) and one touchdown. On defense, he totaled 80 tackles, two blocked punts and one interception. Bolden was named CIF Central Division Most Valuable Player and the Inland Valley Player of the Year after leading Colony to its first CIF title in 2006. He led the Mt. Baldy League in scoring and rushing yards in 2006 and won the league rushing crown by over 1,000 yards. He also recorded over 700 rushing yards and six touchdowns as a junior, despite missing four games due to injury, but still earned All-Mt. Baldy League honors and was chosen as Colony High's Most Valuable Player.

He was a 2007 graduate of Colony High School. Considered a four-star recruit by Bolden was listed as the No. 7 all-purpose back recruit in the nation. He ran a 4.35 40-yard dash at the 2006 Los Angeles Combine, the fastest by any player at the camp and the fourth-fastest among participants at′s 13 nationwide high school combines throughout the year. Ranked as the preseason No. 37 player overall in the West and the region's No. 6 cornerback by also rated as a four-star prospect by and Not only these guys but he was highly rated by others. Listed as a preseason All-American and the No. 43 cornerback in the nation by SuperPrep and also regarded as the No. 36 player in the state of California and the state's No. 6 cornerback by SuperPrep. He was rated as the No. 7 all-purpose back in the nation and the No. 31 player in the state of California by He was regarded as the No. 5 running back in California by and listed as the No. 16 cornerback in the nation by He also was named the No. 38 player in the Farwest in the postseason by SuperPrep.

Omar Bolden grew up watching Heisman Trophy winners Carson Palmer, Matt Leinart and Reggie Bush. Southern California, where his heroes played, was "my school," Bolden believed.

Even now, years later, it's somewhat mystifying that Bolden would choose to play football at Arizona State rather than USC. Many remember his televised signing-day announcement, still viewable on YouTube, when Bolden was about to don a USC hat and instead flipped it at the camera and pulled an ASU hat from behind his back.

"I wasn't mad, no hatred," Bolden said. "I wasn't trying to be disrespectful. I really didn't like the way they recruited me. It was the bunny with the carrot in his face. They played with me. I didn't like that.

"If they wanted me, give me the (scholarship) offer. Honestly, if they would have gave me the offer, I probably would have committed there."

USC dragged its feet on an offer in part because of doubts about whether Bolden would qualify academically. The concern was legitimate - Bolden wasn't cleared for enrollment until six days after preseason practice began - although Bolden never doubted himself.

"I kept telling them (USC coaches), 'Look, I'm going to give you my word as a young man becoming a young adult that I'm going to make it,' " he said. "I had plenty of other schools that offered me and believed in me. I didn't think it was fair to keep them waiting, either. I felt I made the right decision. I have no complaints, no regrets. I love it here."

It doesn't hurt that at the time ASU was 9-1, ranked seventh and alone atop the Pac-10 standings at 6-1. Five-time defending Pac-10 champion USC (8-2, 5-2) was No. 11. Bolden received several other offers, from schools including Michigan, Nebraska, Oregon State and Washington. He was one of ASU's most highly-acclaimed signees of the 2007 class. This was due to his blazing speed and the ability to star either in the offensive backfield or the defensive secondary and considered one of the most exciting athletes in the state of California in 2006. At the time he was praised for his ball skills as a defender, mainly resulting from his experience on offense.

"This kid is like ice water or something, because nothing is too big for him," cornerbacks coach Al Simmons said. "The greatest thing is his confidence. He's been confident even when he struggled a little bit. He's playing better, so now he's getting more confident. He's got a great mind-set, because if he doesn't make a play, it's over and he can move on and feel like he can still win a majority of the snaps and win the game for us. I don't think he'll let this game or any other game affect how he's going to play."

That assessment is no surprise to Bolden's former coach, Anthony Rice. Bolden was a star his last season for Rice's Ontario (Calif.) Colony High team that won the state Southern Section Central Division.

Colony opened in 2002. Bolden played varsity for four years and was integral to the progression from a 1-9 record to 12-2 and a title.

"You don't see a lot of kids like that," Rice said. "He's hungry all the time to succeed; that's what makes him a great athlete. The kid is humble, willing to work and willing to listen."

Bolden said he constantly is learning, not only from Simmons and Tryon (senior corners) but also from other teammates.

"I wouldn't say I'm taking his style," Bolden said of Tryon, "but I like the way he carries himself on the field. His swagger. He's kind of teaching me to get my own swag. That's one thing I didn't have coming out of high school."

Maybe not as a cornerback. But it takes nothing but swagger to turn down USC and help ASU turn the corner.

Bolden was an instant starter as a freshmen and earned Freshmen All-American in the 07 season.

As a true freshman in 2007, Bolden played in all 13 games, making nine starts for the Sun Devils. He became a starting cornerback in the fifth game of the season, and remained a starter for the rest of the year. He made his first career tackle in season-opening win over San Jose State on Sept. 1. In his first career college start, he intercepted a pass in the second quarter and returned it 29 yards for a touchdown to help ASU to a victory at Stanford on Sept. 29. He also had four tackles (two solo) in the win over the Cardinal. He recorded two tackles and a pass break-up at Washington State on Oct. 6 and against Washington on Oct. 13. He collected a season-high five tackles (three solo) in win over California on Oct. 27 andhad three tackles and two pass break-ups at Oregon on Nov. 3, and posted three tackles at UCLA on Nov. 10. He recorded four tackles and a pass break-up in victory over Arizona on Dec. 1. He matched his season high with five tackles (four solo) in Pacific Life Holiday Bowl against Texas on Dec. 27. He recorded 33 tackles (24 solo), six pass break-ups and one interception, which he returned for a touchdown, on the season. He earned First Team Freshman All-American honors by the Football Writers Association of America, as well as Second Team Freshman All-American honors by and College Football News. He was selected to the Pac-10 All-Freshman Team by The Sporting News. He won the Bill Kajikawa Sun Devil Award, given to the team's most outstanding freshman, at the team's year-end banquet.

In his sophomore season, Bolden started all 12 games at cornerback and finished fifth on the team with 49 tackles (37 solo). He totaled seven pass break-ups and two interceptions on the season. Bolden received Honorable Mention Sophomore All-American by College Football News that year. He had two tackles in season-opening victory over Northern Arizona on Aug. 30 and recorded three tackles in win over Stanford on Sept. 6. He collected six tackles (all solo) and a pass break-up against UNLV on Sept. 13 and posted a season-high seven tackles (six solo) and had a pass break-up against No. 3 Georgia on Sept. 20. He had five tackles (four solo) at California on Oct. 4 and recorded his first interception of the season at No. 8 USC on Oct. 11. His interception came on the second of three straight possessions in the third quarter that the Sun Devils picked off Trojans quarterback Mark Sanchez. He collected six tackles (five solo) and a pass break-up against Oregon on Oct. 25 and had four solo tackles, including a tackle for loss, at Oregon State on Nov. 1. He totaled four tackles and two pass break-ups in win at Washington on Nov. 8 and posted two tackles in victory over Washington State on Nov. 15, as part of a defensive effort that produced ASU's first shutout in 12 seasons. He recorded five tackles (four solo) and a pass break-up in win over UCLA on Nov. 28 and had three tackles at Arizona on Dec. 6, and collected his second interception of the year when he picked off Wildcats quarterback Willie Tuitama in the end zone late in the second quarter.

2009 was the first bad year Bolden had at ASU. He recorded an interception, a pass break-up and four tackles (two solo) in the first four games of the season before suffering an injury in practice during the week leading up to game at Washington St. He sat out the remaining eight games of the year in order to be healthy for the 2010 season. He did return a kick 89 yards for a touchdown against Louisiana-Monroe, his first career kick return for a touchdown. He gathered 123 yards on two kick returns.

By 2010 he was a unanimous 1st Team All PAC 10 selection as a redshirt junior. He excelled in a dual role, both as a cornerback and kickoff return specialist. He was one of only four unanimous selections for the 2010 All-Pacific-10 Conference First-Team as selected by the league's coaches. He also earned Midseason All-Pac-10 team. He had team high seven pass breakups for the season, which also matched his career high he set in 2008. He also led Sun Devil defense with three interceptions for 85 yards and collected 52 tackles, including 37 solo stops for the year. He brought home Kickoff Returner Performer of the Week honors Sept. 18 vs #11 Wisconsin due in part to a 97 yard kickoff return at the end of the first quarter to give the Sun Devils their first lead of the game. He earned College Football Performance Awards Football Bowl Subdivision Honorable Mention Cornerback Performer of the Week Oct. 9 by having three tackles, including two solo and a three-yard tackle for loss in the game and intercepting the Huskies' final pass to clinch the win for ASU. He received an Honorable Mention Defensive Back Performer of the Week Nov. 6 vs USC due to his five tackle (four solo) performance as well as a 66 yard interception return. He returned 11 kickoffs for 321 yards and a 29.2 yard average. For his work as a return specialist, Bolden also was named Second-Team All-Pac-10. He earned Hard Hat player recognition for his work in ASU's offseason strength and conditioning program.

In March of 2010, the much loved Bolden was granted an additional year of eligibility for the Sun Devil football team, as his medical hardship petition was approved by the Pac-10 due to missing almost the entire 2009 season because of injury.

But 2011 just wasn't meant to be. He missed the entire season due to an ACL injury. Even though he was still named a team captain and earned Hard Hat player recognition for his work in ASU's offseason strength and conditioning program.

In summary he was a highly recruited cornerback who was a five-year member of the Sun Devil football team and a four-year starter in the Sun Devil defensive backfield. He appeared in 41 games in his career, including all 25 played during his first two seasons at ASU. He made 22 consecutive starts from the fifth game of his freshman season in 2007 to Sept. 19, 2009. He recorded seven interceptions and 21 pass break-ups in four seasons and also had 138 career tackles (100 solo). Plus he was named to several Freshman All-America teams in 2007.

Scouting Report
Bolden is a superb cover corner capable of playing on an island. He is at his best in bump-and-run coverage, where he can recover after stabbing. He is also effective in zone, where he can trigger his foot and drive to make a play on the ball. He has speed to start at the next level and the body control to adjust on a ball while covering at full speed.

Bolden has played inconsistently and can get caught looking in the backfield while playing zone. He is a solid all-around prospect, but he may have trouble working out of the slot early in his career in sub-nickel packages, as he solely has worked outside at Arizona State.

NFL Draft
Bolden was a productive three-year starter at left corner for Arizona State. He missed the final eight games of the 2009 season due to tweaking the MCL in his right knee and sat out in 2011 with the ACL injury. Therefore his recovery and return are integral to his value. When healthy, he is a big, athletic cover corner with second-round value and the ability to start immediately.

Out of one of the worst experiences a college football player can experience, Omar Bolden emerged with a new, and entirely positive, perspective.

Bolden could have left Arizona State with a fifth year of eligibility remaining to enter the NFL draft in 2011. Instead, the popular and talented cornerback called a news conference to announce he wanted one more year with the Sun Devils.

A few months later, during spring practice, Bolden tore his ACL — an injury that ended his final college season before it began. Bolden considers himself a budding cornerback and CEO. To think, an injury on the field led him to become an inspirational entrepreneur off it.

Usually such an affable and upbeat person, Bolden slipped into a funk over the prospect of sitting out again. Soon, those feelings turned into a vision as he hit on an idea: What can he do to brighten someone's day?

Like that, he created a "Positive Living" movement. He began a website touting the benefits of optimistic thinking and designed elastic bracelets. He also sends out uplifting messages. Bolden developed a personal mantra of "positive living" that he preaches in interviews and includes, in hashtag form, at the end of most of his social media messages.

"I've always been a positive, high-energy guy," Bolden said. "But it really came about when I got hurt. It was a really hard time for me. I really wanted to come back and help my team win. For me to lose that whole season, it was pretty hard. I just have a tight circle of close friends and we're real big on positive energy. It kind of just started as 'live positive, live positive.' We turned it into 'positive living.' Then, we started tweeting about it."

"Before you know it, a lot of people were just catching on and it turned into a movement. It wasn't planned, it just happened like that."

Bolden remained a part of the Arizona State team, so much so that he was selected a captain. He said he attended every practice, every defensive meeting and traveled to each game. It helped him cope with the fact that he wasn't playing, though it couldn't replicate the experience he needed to prepare for the NFL.

"I stayed involved. I traveled to every game, went to every practice, went to every meeting," Bolden said. "I played my part. But it was just hard to watch."

Had the knee injury not erased his senior season, Bolden likely would have been a first- or second-day draft pick. Instead, he fell to the fourth round — where the Broncos drafted him. In the 2012 NFL draft Bolden was selected 101 overall by the Denver Broncos.

With that venture taking off, he's now eager to begin his other business: Being a shutdown cornerback.

The team drafted him in the fourth round, believing they received a steal of a deal as he slipped down the board due to his injury-filled past.

No matter where he was picked, he's here now. And that's all he cares about.

The power of positive thought at work.

He has been cleared by the Broncos' medical staff and said he has felt completely healthy since early March.

"It's good to be back on the field, just competing again," said Bolden. "Just to have the opportunity to be out here and play in the NFL and for the Broncos, it's an amazing opportunity."

"I'm just excited to have this opportunity to play in the NFL," Bolden said. "Coming off a knee injury, missing a whole year, I see myself as very blessed and fortunate. A lot of guys would love to be in my position, so I'm going to take full advantage."

When healthy, Bolden was a standout defensive back for the Sun Devils. He had three interceptions and broke up seven passes in 2010, giving a glimpse of what he could do.

Even when he wasn't healthy, Bolden was still a contributor. Last season, he was a voted captain in part because of his energizing and engaging attitude.

About that time, he began hatching his idea of inspiring others. It was his way of keeping from tumbling into a melancholy.

"I've seen many of my friends go through the same injury and distance themselves from everything, from football and friends," Bolden said. "I didn't want to go down that road. I learned from their experiences."

His website has a mission statement that counts this as its principle tenet: "It is about making the decision to be a positive impact on the lives of the people you are around on a daily basis. A family member, friend, co-worker or even a stranger. You have the ability to affect people's lives with a simple action. Let that action be positive. Life is too important to let opportunities slip by."

That edict now empowers Bolden.

Bolden joined other Denver rookies at Dove Valley team headquarters for what marked his first practices since he was injured almost a year ago. His last full-speed work came late in his 2010 season.

Bolden, listed by the Broncos at 5-foot-10 and 195 pounds, played left cornerback and had a variety of special-teams roles, including kickoff returner and gunner on punt coverage, for Arizona State. Bolden lined up at left cornerback during the weekend minicamp, but he probably will move around when the rookies join the veterans for the Broncos' first full-squad minicamp.

"I thought he played well and he reacted to our install very well. He has good football awareness and football intelligence," coach John Fox said Sunday at the conclusion of the rookies' minicamp. "It's just a matter of learning to compete at this level at a consistent basis, and I believe he can do that."

Bolden can't wait until he has a chance to pick up pointers from perennial Pro Bowler Champ Bailey. The Broncos also have veterans Drayton Florence and Tracy Porter for Bolden to lean on as well.

"They've been around for a long time. There's a reason why they're still here," said Bolden, who no longer wears a protective knee brace. "Seven-to-10 years later, I want to be one of those guys that are still around. I'm just going to do my best to stick in their pocket, stick in their ear and learn as best as I can."

With such an abundance of defensive backs, Bolden's role in the upcoming season may be in special packages on defense or possibly as a special teams contributor. He was a returner at Arizona State, even bringing back a kick 97 yards against Wisconsin in 2010.

Willing to slip into that role again?

"If they give me the opportunity, yes, I'm going to take it and run full speed with it," Bolden said. "I've got my speed back; I'm ready," Bolden told reporters at Dove Valley.

As a kickoff returner, he averaged 30.8 yards on 17 returns, with two touchdowns.

"Any time I can get my hands on the football, I like it," Bolden said.

Bolden is surrounded by quite an ASU support system with quarterback Brock Osweiler being drafted by the Broncos in the second round and receiver Gerell Robinson coming on board as a college free agent.

"It's always good to come in with somebody you know," Bolden said. "Obviously, you come in with a class full of rookies and everybody's going through the same thing. But when you can look to your right or to your left and know that you've been through similar situations like this for the past three-to-four years with guys that you kind of consider as your brothers, it helps.

"It makes it a little easier to transition to the NFL."

Measurables: 5-10 1/2, 195-202 pounds Was one of the strongest defensive backs at the scouting combine with 24 repetitions in the bench press and ran a 4.45 40-yard dash at his April pro day.

Upside: He was one of the fastest players in college football and plays the ball well with at least six pass break-ups in three of his seasons. Active player who had 52 tackles from the secondary in 2010 to go with 49 tackles in 2008. High enough character that he was named a team captain this past season despite the fact he was out for the year. Can also play in the return game.

Question marks: A huge medical question given he lost most of two seasons with knee injuries, including ACL surgery a year ago.

If Bolden can stay healthy and learn the Broncos playbook he could have a very productive year and career ~ Aussie.

Reference: AZ Central, AZ Central 2, DenverPost, DenverPost 2

May 20, 2012

Rookie Bio - Brock Osweiler

Brock Alan Osweiler was born November 22nd, 1990 in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho and is now an American football quarterback for the Denver Broncos. He was born to parents John and Kathy Osweiler of Kalispell and he has one brother, Tanner, who played football at Montana Tech. He resides in Kalispell, Montana.

Date of birth: (1990-11-22) November 22, 1990 (age 21)
Place of birth: Kalispell, Montana
Height: 6 ft 7 in (2.01 m) Weight: 242 lb (110 kg)

Osweiler has a major in Sociology and Political Science at ASU

High School

Osweiller attended Flathead High School in Kalispell, Montana. He played both football and basketball. He was coached by Russell McCarvel at Flathead High School.

During his playing days at Flathead High School Osweiler excelled on the gridiron and basketball court. He was listed as the 25th-best pro-style quarterback in the country by and rated 47th at his position by He was named the 2008 Gatorade State Player of the Year for Montana, giving Arizona State two of Montana's past three Gatorade State Players of the Year, joining former Sun Devil offensive lineman Matt Hustad, who won the award playing for Helena High School in 2006-07.

As a sophomore, Osweiler threw for 2,454 yards and 22 touchdowns, but he gained national attention due to his senior campaign performance. In 2008, he led the state of Montana in completed passes (189) and passing yards (2,703), ranking second in pass attempts (303) and passing touchdowns (29). He also led the Braves in rushing with 162 carries for 700 yards (4.3 ypc) and thirteen touchdowns. He scored three times on the ground and totaled 84 rushing yards on 18 attempts (4.7 avg.) and completed 15-22 passes (68.2 pct) for 163 yards and two scores against Sentinel on Oct. 3, 2008. He threw for 243 yards and four touchdowns against Great Falls on Oct. 11, 2008 and collected a season high 115 rushing yards on 22 attempts (5.0 avg.) with three touchdowns and added 178 passing yards on 12-19 attempts (63.2 pct) with one touchdown versus Glacier on Oct. 17, 2009. He threw for 309 yards on 18-23 passing (78.3 pct.) with five touchdowns through the air, while adding 50 rushing yards on nine attempts (5.6 avg.) with two scores against Hellgate on Oct. 24, 2008. He threw for 2,454 yards and 22 touchdowns as a sophomore in 2006.

As a standout basketball player in high school Osweiler was more known by recruiters for his basketball skills. In 2007 he originally committed to Gonzaga University as a sophomore before deciding to strictly focus on a collegiate football career. As a junior on the hardwood in 2007-08, he averaged 24.9 points, 14.5 rebounds, 2.5 assists, 2.3 steals, and 1.8 blocked shots on 48-percent shooting from the field and was rated as a three-star basketball recruit by


Brock Osweiler had sprouted to 6-foot-7 as a high school sophomore when he started to thinking that maybe his future was in football, not basketball. Though Osweiler had already given an oral commitment to play forward at Gonzaga, Osweiler figured he might as well at least start to see if any college football programs might be interested in him.

Osweiler put together a DVD with football highlights from his 10th-grade year at Flathead High.

"Within a few weeks, I got a call from Florida State asking, 'Is he really a sophomore? Is he really that big?'" said Russell McCarvel, Osweiler's coach at Flathead High. "They were really excited. From there, it just started building. It was at that point that I knew where all this was going, and that long-term he'd have a better opportunity to end up exactly where he did."

McCarvel brought his smart phone with him to his son's baseball game last Friday evening, for the second day of the draft, in Kalispell. He probably paid more attention to the draft tracker on his phone than he did to the action of the field, especially as the Broncos' pick at No. 57 approached.

Osweiler became the first offensive player and the second overall athlete of the 2009 class to commit to the Sun Devils, pledging on April 30th, 2008. He was also offered scholar-ships from Alabama, Florida State, Stanford, Tennessee, UCLA and Washington State.

In 2009 he was a true freshman and played in six games of the season. He made his first career start Nov. 14 vs. Oregon and became the first ASU true freshman to start at quarterback since Jake Plummer in 1993. He threw 24 completions for 249 yards and two touchdowns and had just two interceptions on the season. He finished with a 86.39 passer efficiency rating and averaged 41.5 passing yards per game and gained 60 yards on 16 rushing attempts, including a long of 19. He went 11-27 for 153 yards and a touchdown, and completed three passes of 20+ yards Nov. 7 against USC and threw his first career touchdown pass in the fourth quarter of a win over Idaho State Sept. 5.

In 2010 he did not throw an interception all season and appeared in six games. He went 6-10 for 60 yards vs. Portland State and came on in relief of an injured Steven Threet to help lead ASU back from 17-0 deficit to win vs. UCLA 55-17. He had his best passing performance on Frank Kush Field since 2007 in the game by throwing for 380 passing yards, four touchdowns and one rushing touchdown. The 55 points scored was the second-highest total against a Pac-10 school in ASU history and he was named ASU athlete of the week due to his performance. His first start of the season came in the Territorial Cup where he finished the game 22 of 49 for 267 yards, one touchdown in overtime thriller win to bring the Cup back to Tempe. He earned Hard Hat player recognition for his work in ASU's offseason strength and conditioning program.

2011 was his first season as the starter, Osweiler re-wrote the Arizona State record book for passing and became the first quarterback in the history of Sun Devil football to throw for over 4,000 yards, finishing the season with 4,036. He set new school records for completions (326) and attempts (516) and threw for 26 touchdowns, the fourth most in school history. He completed 63.2% of his passing, setting a new school record for completion percentage and threw for a career high 487 yards against Arizona, tying a school record with his 63 pass attempts. He had six 300-yard passing games on the season, including four over 350 yards and three times threw for three touchdowns (Missouri, at Utah and Cal). He was the tallest quarterback in the nation. Osweiler earned All-Pac 12 Conference second-team honors from The NFL Draft Report, as the Maxwell Award Watch List member and ASU team captain started all thirteen games, ranking second in the league and 11th in the nation with an average of 317.3 yards per game in total offense.

Osweiler was a three-year letterman, including the 2011 season, his first as the starter. He brings incredible size and tremendous athleticism to the position. He is a playmaking threat in and out of the pocket and is more mobile than his size would indicate. Osweiler started 15-of-25 games at Arizona State, completing 412-of-680 passes (60.5%) for 5,082 yards, 33 touchdowns and 15 interceptions, as he scored four times on 137 carries for 221 yards (1.61 ypc). He joined Rudy Carpenter (.610; 799-of-1,309; 2005-08) as the only players in school history to complete more than 60% of their passes during their careers at ASU. He was MVP of the 2010 Territorial Cup game, a win in Tucson and had seven 300-yard games. He graduated high school early to join the team for spring practice in 2009. In 2011, Osweiler became just the fourth player in Pac-12 Conference annals to throw for over 4,000 yards in a season, setting the school annual mark with 4,036 yards. Nick Foles of Arizona also had 4,334 yards in 2011, as they joined other league 4,000-yard passers; Cody Pickett of Washington (4,458 in 2002) and Derek Anderson of Oregon State (4,058 in 2003). Along with Foles (4,321 in 2011) and Pickett (4,273 in 2002), Osweiler also joined the conference’s exclusive club as that trio are the only passers in the league to tally 4,000 yards in total offense, ranking third on that list with 4,126 in 2011. He completed 36 passes vs. Arizona in 2011, the third-best game total by a Sun Devil and his 63 pass attempts vs. the Wildcats tied the school record first set by Paul Justin vs. Houston in 1990.

Osweiler (pronounced OSS-why-lur) made the most of his starting opportunity in 2011 and hopes to convert that record breaking campaign into the professional ranks.

The Sun Devil passer is very light on his feet and shows good flexibility rolling out and throwing from the outside hashes. Perhaps due to his basketball experience, he can not only slide and move laterally out of the pocket, but has the arm strength, body control and balance to make all the throws on the move, along with the ability to fire the ball deep with impressive accuracy. A diligent worker in practice and a player who can often be found watching opposing game film.

A few weeks after playing in the Las Vegas Bowl, and with a new coaching staff taking over the program, Osweiler decided that he was going to leave school and announced on January 9th, 2012 that he was entering the 2012 NFL Draft.

Osweiler, who started 15 games at Arizona State and declared for the draft after his junior year, had told people close to him that he felt good about the Broncos' interest in him after a private workout for executive vice president John Elway and the coaching staff.

After picking Arizona State over a host of other big-time college football programs, Osweiler gave up basketball after his junior year.

"It was a gamble for me because there haven't been too many quarterbacks that are my size that have played in the NFL. Really when it came down to it, it was basically my love for the game," Osweiler said. "I was a very passionate basketball player, really enjoyed the sport. I played it my entire life. When it really came down to it, at the end of the day, towards the end of my junior year, I just loved the game of football too much."

Noel Mazzone arrived in Tempe to become the Sun Devils' offensive coordinator a year later, in January 2010, and recalled his first impression of Osweiler as a tall, energetic kid with a "charismatic" personality.

"He was kind of a charmer," Mazzone said. "The first thought when you see him is, 'Is this guy really serious about what he's doing?'"

Mazzone said he had his answer two days into spring practice.

"One of the things I worked on him hard with was you have to become a student of the game," Mazzone said. "That's where he took the biggest strides — the work in the classroom, the work after practice, the work in the offseason."

He spent the spring working out with Mazzone. Osweiler went through throwing sessions with Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers (who played for Mazzone at North Carolina State), Chiefs quarterback Matt Cassel and former Bronco Tim Tebow.

"Philip was kind enough to come up and spend a couple of days with Brock." Mazzone said. "Philip is 6-5, kind of a taller guy. Every move (Rivers) made, (Osweiler) was just taking it in."

After his selection by the Broncos, Osweiler, who is only 21, raved about his opportunity to learn from Manning, who signed a five-year contract in March. Osweiler's first contract will be for four years.

"I think Brock was just excited about the opportunity to work with Peyton and see how it works, how he goes about his business," Elway said after the draft. "I think that part of the thought process there, too — not whether we've got Peyton for another three or four years — was get somebody in here, to be able to work with him over time (so he) can really grow."

Scouting Report
Osweiler is an intriguing early-entry prospect out of Arizona State. He started for Dennis Erickson's Sun Devils for just two years before opting to leave a year of eligibility on the table with the mass exodus of both the ASU coaching staff and a solid group of senior starters. A good athlete for the position. He has the arm strength to be a first-day pick but hasn't shown the consistency that is characteristic of guys who deserve first-round money.

Osweiler has a very deliberate, quick-twitched setup which he employs on a consistent basis. His athletic ability allows him to play the position naturally and with ease. He slings the ball naturally, as well, and even though he pats the ball before throwing, his release is so compact and effective he isn't hindered by this habit in the slightest. His shining asset is his arm strength; he can hit nearly any NFL-caliber throw at this point in his career. He is a good leader and looks in control in the huddle and on the field. He is above average from an accuracy standpoint, and he really has a good grasp on when to add touch to the ball or to zip it. He has the pocket presence of a first-day pick and doesn't go down easily. He is good to extend plays with his feet.

Osweiler had on-the-field judgment issues throughout his career at ASU and isn't reliable to protect the ball from turnovers. It seems as if he starts to get rolling in a game, and the more confidence he builds, the more of a gun-slinger mentality he adopts. This severely hinders his play. When under control, early in the game, he is athletic, accurate, and a good game manager. He will need to learn to hone in some of the competitive traits that have helped lead him to success up to this point. He is likely a developmental prospect who could struggle if forced to play early on.

Officially listed by the Broncos at 6-foot-7, rookie Brock becomes the tallest quarterback in the NFL. His tall-guy brethren in the NFL include Baltimore Ravens starter Joe Flacco, Carolina Panthers backup Derek Anderson and New England Patriots backup Ryan Mallett, each at 6-6. Here's what people are saying about Osweiler's height:

"I really don't see too many negatives that come with it because of the athleticism that I have. Without a doubt, my field vision is a huge asset because of my height. A lot of shorter quarterbacks have to slide in the pocket to find windows, while I can just look over the line sometimes." - Osweiler.

"He was probably the only one at the combine who was trying to sneak down and trying to be shorter than he is. But there's only ever been one guy who was that size and that was (Dan) McGwire at Seattle, and I don't think he was nearly as athletic as Brock. I really don't see how the height can hurt you if you're athletic enough. ... To me, being a guy when you're standing in a huddle behind be-hemoths, being able to see is always a benefit. To me, if you're athletic like Brock is and you're tall like he is, all that's going to do is help him. I don't think it's going to be a hindrance to him." John Elway, Broncos executive vice president.

"He plays like he's a 6-3, 6-4 guy. He's a very athletic guy." Noel Mazzone, former Arizona St. offensive coordinator. "He rushed for nearly 700 yards for us as a senior. The thing that really stands out is when you watch him move, you don't think he's that big, don't realize he's that tall. He will never be mistaken for Michael Vick, but he moves well enough to make some plays with his feet."

NFL Draft

Just over a month before the NFL Draft, another young quarterback sat down with Jon Gruden to be initiated on national television. The interview was for the ESPN series Gruden’s QB Camp, where the fiery former head coach interrogates and dissects NFL prospects down to their tattoos. At times throughout the series Gruden has reduced confident college football stars into mumbling oafs. In many ways, the popular series has become a young quarterback’s introduction to the hard-knock world of professional football.

In late March, Gruden blitzed his latest sitting target, Brock Osweiler, the kid from Montana on the verge of entering the NFL only three years after graduating from Flathead High School and with only one full season as Arizona State University’s starting quarterback.

"You are one of the most mysterious quarterbacks in this draft I think," Gruden said with squinted, suspicious eyes.

He reminded Osweiler of his decision to leave college as a junior with limited starting experience, a talking point naysayers use as ammo when predicting Osweiler’s future. But others, including ESPN’s NFL Draft specialist Todd McShay, believe he’s a top-five quarterback in this week’s draft.

"You’re sure you’re ready for this?" Gruden said, staring intently at Osweiler. "This is what you want, isn’t it?"


The stories first emerged like myths. They spread across the Flathead Valley, and then Montana, and then the Pacific Northwest. A 6-4 middle schooler who already had the frame of a college athlete was dominating youth sports like a Goliath among boys. He once scored 50 points in a game. That athleticism on the basketball court translated to the football field, too. His abilities, for a kid at any age, were uncommon. Very uncommon.

Brock Osweiler was not a mystery for very long.

In 2006, Division I college basketball programs were already courting the 6-foot-7, 220-pounder before he even completed his first basketball season at Flathead High School. His mystique hit a major growth spurt between freshman and sophomore year when he committed to play at Gonzaga, one of the best college basketball teams in the country.

Had he stayed on that road, there’s no telling where Osweiler would be today. The world of college basketball is full of talented athletes his size. Only a few go on to play in the NBA.

But in football, someone like Osweiler – taller than everyone yet coordinated and agile – is a rarity, especially at a skills position like quarterback.

"You don’t get an athlete like him very often," former ASU head coach Dennis Erickson told the Beacon last week. "He’s just so athletic for that size. That’s very, very unusual. You don’t see guys like that."

Until recently everyone believed Osweiler stood 6-8, which would make him the tallest quarterback in the NFL currently and tied for the tallest ever. But an official measurement at the NFL Combine in February revealed he’s really 6-6 7/8. That’s still taller than anyone playing right now. There have only been three NFL quarterbacks in history who were 6-7 or taller, with Dan McGwire the tallest at 6-8. All three had short life spans in the NFL, more ammo used against Osweiler.

"But he doesn’t play like he’s 6-8," former University of Montana All-American quarterback Grady Bennett said. "To me he’s always had the feet and movement like a 6-3 quarterback."

Bennett was the head football coach at Flathead when Osweiler was a freshman and sophomore. Even then people were saying Osweiler was too tall to play QB beyond high school. But Bennett competed at the NFL Combine the same year McGwire did. Besides their height similarities, there’s no comparing McGwire and Osweiler, Bennett said.

That’s why Bennett and others told the young kid to be patient about deciding his future.

As the Braves starting quarterback from his sophomore year until graduation, Osweiler wrote himself into the record books and became one of the most prolific high school quarterbacks ever in Montana.

Russell McCarvel, who became the Braves head coach when Osweiler was a junior after Bennett moved to Glacier High, remembers getting phone calls from colleges across the nation, including Florida State, Stanford and UCLA. Everyone wanted to know about this mythical Montana quarterback they kept hearing about.

"Without a doubt, what has set him apart, besides his size, is his work ethic," McCarvel said. "There’s a lot of big QBs, but his work ethic is outstanding. He’s also got a great thirst for football knowledge. And he wants to be great."

By junior year, college basketball was out of the picture. On April 30, 2008, Osweiler announced his commitment to play football at Arizona State under Erickson, who first heard of Osweiler thanks to longstanding Montana ties. Erickson played quarterback at Montana State in the late 1960s.

"We watched him his senior year and it was a no-brainer for us," Erickson said, adding, "He just has a personality that overwhelms people. He’s a true leader."

On Nov. 14, 2009, Osweiler made his first start. It turned out to be a baptism by fire. His debut came on the road in the raucous Autzen Stadium against 13th-ranked Oregon where he would get injured early on. He played sporadically throughout the rest of the season with limited success and dropped down the team’s depth chart. Erickson left it up to him to prove he deserved another shot.

On Nov. 26, 2010, ASU trailed UCLA 17-0 and the starting quarterback went down with an injury. Erickson called on the sophomore to fill in off the bench. The kid from Kalispell led the Sun Devils to three straight scores and a 55-34 comeback win.

"The rest is pretty much history," Erickson said.

The following year Osweiler had the best statistical season ever for an ASU quarterback. The Sun Devils’ season ended in the team’s first bowl game in four years, but Erickson was still fired. Two months later, Osweiler announced he was forgoing his senior year and entering the NFL Draft.

"I thought this day would come," Erickson said. "I was hoping it would be another year, but there’s no question in my mind he’ll be a heckuva good player in the National Football League."

There have been 62 players in the NFL from Montana, according to Flathead High currently has one – Lex Hilliard – while former Brave Mike Reilly is quarterbacking in the CFL.

"He has wanted to be at this level for a long time," McCarvel said of Osweiler, whom he still keeps in touch with and recently visited.

Having a Montana kid on the doorstep of the NFL is something that brings the state together like a small community cheering for one of its own, Bennett said.

"To have a guy like Brock really go big time and have the success he’s had, it’s good for the community. It’s good for the state. It’s good for football in Montana," Bennett said. "It just makes everybody proud."


A brief moment of silence lingered along with Gruden’s question: "You’re sure you’re ready for this?"

"Without a doubt, coach," Osweiler replied emphatically. "This has been a dream of mine since I was 8 years old, to be an NFL quarterback."

Osweiler went on: "One of my favorite quotes is ‘the greatest pleasure in life is doing what people say you cannot do.’"

People said he was too tall to be a Division I quarterback. People said a Montana kid would never start for ASU. Now some people are saying he’s not ready for the NFL.

"With my leadership, with my toughness, with my work ethic," Osweiler said. "I’m going to do everything within my power to prove those people wrong and show what truly matters is the person inside."

His words echoed the growing legion of fans and believers who think he will have a strong career.

Gruden sat back in his chair listening with arms crossed. His head began nodding like a teammate believing in his quarterback’s game-winning drive. The suspicion seemed to leave Gruden’s eyes. For a moment, he even revealed a smile.

At the combine Brock Osweiler didn't lift, run or throw and he came up a little short in one of few tests to which he submitted. To be exact, 1 1/8 inches short.

Still, the former Arizona State quarterback believes he can show NFL scouts a lot about himself here, even if doesn't touch a football.

"I want to show GMs, head coaches that starting only 15 games in my college career was enough," Osweiler said, when asked what he hoped to prove at the combine. "Get me in the meeting room and let me show you the person, the leader, the competitor that I am, and the football player."

Osweiler is skipping the physical tests, he said, because he hasn't quite recovered from the mid-foot sprain suffered late in the bowl game in December. He plans to do all of the tests on March 30, ASU's pro scouting day.

As for coming up short? Osweiler had a little room to work with. At ASU he was listed at 6-8.

"I guess our height measurements at ASU are off a little bit," Osweiler said, smiling. "But, shoot, I think 6-6 is still an OK height to play quarterback. We're an eighth of an inch off so I'm going to round up and say I'm 6-7."

Osweiler's height is one of several subjects teams have brought up in the interviews at the combine. All want to know why he chose to leave school after only one full year as a starter, and some want to know more about a throwing motion that one coach, who preferred to remain anonymous, called unorthodox.

"He's an extremely talented guy, but I feel he would have benefited from another year in school," one scout said.

Osweiler left, he said, because "I felt I had I had done everything I could in my time at ASU. I had absolutely no regrets in my three years. I gave everything I had every single day to our football program, and I just felt like I was at a time and a place where I was ready to take my game to the next level and take on new challenges."

His departure, he said, had nothing to do with the firing of Dennis Erickson and the hiring of Todd Graham. Osweiler said he had several amicable meetings with Graham and offensive coordinator Mike Norvell before deciding to leave school.

"This was more of a personal decision," he said.

But was it wise?

Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III are the top two quarterbacks in the draft. A handful of scouts and coaches here said Osweiler is in the next tier, along with Nick Foles of Arizona, Ryan Tannehill of Texas A&M and Brandon Weeden of Oklahoma State.

"I think Foles has the frame and his physical skill set is just a hair below Osweiler's," one scout said. "He might be more seasoned than Osweiler, though."

Osweiler has interviewed with several teams at the combine, including the Chiefs, Seahawks, Eagles, Redskins and Bills.

"Brock was really impressive when I talked to him," one NFL assistant said. "My first impression was, 'why are you coming out early when you've started only (15) games?'"

Osweiler gave the same answer he did to reporters: He was ready.

To prove it, he's emphasizing to coaches that he had great responsibility in Arizona State's scheme, including leading classroom sessions late in the week.

"On Friday night in the hotel, I would go over the game plan with our entire team," he said. "I would take the play-call sheet and go through each play as the coaches sat back and monitored the situation.

"Saturday mornings before we got on the bus, I would run a quick film session, putting up coverages of the defense so our guys could see what they were about to go into. That's a lot of the things I added when I became quarterback and brought to Arizona State."

If that sounds like something that would be said in a job interview, it's not a coincidence. The combine is one large, invitation-only job fair.

Osweiler sounded ready to tackle anything thrown at him, including the notion that especially tall quarterbacks don't make it in the NFL.

"I don't feel like there has ever been a quarterback who is 6-7, 240 pounds and has the athleticism I do and can make every throw on the football field," Osweiler said. "So I ignored all those comparisons and played football the way I was taught to."

His Pro-day results are as follows:
4.83 in the 40-yard dash
1.66 10-yard dash
2.79 20-yard dash
4.32 20-yard shuttle
7.11 three-cone drill
33-inch vertical jump
9’8” broad jump
Bench pressed 225 pounds 24 times
33 7/8-inch arm length
9 7/8-inch hands
79 3/8-inch wingspan.

On Friday, April 27th Brock Osweiler's life changed forever when he was drafted by the Denver Broncos in the 2nd round of the 2012 NFL Draft.

Since Osweiler concluded his junior season at ASU there has been many rumors about his future. Would he return to the Sun Devils for his senior season? Would he transfer to another school after the firing of head coach Dennis Erickson and offensive coordinator Noel Mazzone? Would he declare himself eligible for the NFL? In the end Osweiler decided to take his chances with the NFL.

Prior to the draft many scouts and so called draft gurus said that Osweiler would have been better served to finish his college career at ASU before turning pro. To be fair, if Brock would have done that he would have to run a whole new offensive system under new Sun Devil coach, Todd Graham. Even more important, he would have to change from a pocket passer to the leader of a spread offense where he would have to carry the ball more.

As the second round of the draft concluded it appeared that Osweiler not only made the right decision by turning pro, but might possibly have gotten the best opportunity that any quarterback could possibly ask for with his draft position.

Osweiler was taken by the Denver Broncos in the second round. He was the fourth overall quarterback drafted and the first to be taken on day two of the draft. By going in the second round he is not expected to start right away or withstand the pressure of carrying a franchise early in his career.

"For Mr. Elway to take me in the second round and show that trust that he has in me and the upside he thinks I have, I want to go out and there and prove him right," Osweiler said. "I want to be able to have him look back 10 years from now, 15 years from now and have him be very proud about that selection and let him know that he did make the right selection."

Not only will Brock be given time to learn the offense in Denver before he is expected to contribute on the field but he will be tutored by two of the best quarterbacks in the history of the NFL. He will be backing up Peyton Manning, who the Broncos signed as a free agent this off season. His style of being a big, strong pocket passer is very much like the skill set of Manning which will be a great example to learn from. Manning can help Osweiler not only on the field but off it as well. For his entire career Manning has been known for his leadership and attention to detail, both areas that Brock can improve on. Oh, and by the way, legendary quarterback John Elway is in the Broncos front office and can help tutor Brock as well.

It is evident that the situation could not have set up much better for Brock Osweiler. As long as he puts in the hard work needed and follows the examples of Elway and Manning there is no doubt that Osweiler can have a long and productive NFL career.


Broncos head coach John Fox feels like he’s the guy they can develop to take over when Manning retires.

"I don’t think it’s one of those things where Peyton Manning feels threatened by any stretch," Broncos coach John Fox jokingly said, according to The Associated Press per "All in all, I thought (Osweiler) is what you’re looking for in a prototypical quarterback. He’s the guy we liked that we think has a bright future in the future."

Osweiler is looking forward to the opportunity to learn from Manning and doesn’t mind the fact that he’ll be sitting for the next two to three years.

"I could not be any more excited to be going to Denver to learn from Peyton Manning," he said in a conference call, according to The AP per "A lot of quarterbacks might be upset having to sit behind somebody, where I look at it as a tremendous opportunity to learn from one of the best, if not the best to ever play the game."

"I’ll be ready to roll," Osweiler said. "Regardless of whatever the situation is this year, I’ll be ready when my name gets called."

Reality is still sinking in for Brock Osweiler, who is now a quarterback for a storied NFL franchise and working alongside two of the greatest signal callers ever.

"It's all pretty surreal," he said in a conference call Thursday, less than a week after being drafted by the Denver Broncos. "I'm so fortunate to be going to a great situation."

Osweiler, 22, is fulfilling a dream he's had ever since growing up in the Flathead Valley, standing in knee-deep snow tossing a football at a target, focused on playing professional football.

"My entire life, my soul vision, since I was 7-8 years old, was to be a quarterback in the NFL," he said.

Today, he's playing for one of his home state's favorite franchises.

"I could not be any happier with the situation I'm going to and the city I'm going to," he said. "It's such a special opportunity."

The Broncos, under the guidance of former NFL great John Elway, the team's executive vice president of football operations, had their eye on Osweiler. After Osweiler announced he would forego his senior year at Arizona State University, Denver was one of the first teams to contact him. Elway and head coach John Fox talked extensively with Osweiler at the NFL Combine. By draft time the Broncos were trading around picks and positioning themselves to be able to take Osweiler with the 57th overall pick.

He said he wasn't very surprised to get a phone call from Denver Friday night of the draft. Immediately after the pick was announced, Elway expressed his excitement about landing the quarterback.

"Mr. Elway's been great," Osweiler said. "He has full confidence in me and that's why he said he drafted me. He sees a very bright future for me."

Osweiler said the former Bronco great shared some lasting advice in one of their first conversations since the NFL Draft.

"He basically just told me 'embrace the situation, have fun with it but work your tail off. If you continue the work ethic you showed at ASU, you'll be just fine,'" Osweiler said. "I can only thank him for putting me in the situation I'm in, to be able to sit behind a future Hall of Fame quarterback and pick his brain every day."

Osweiler said he looks forward to learning from one of the game's best – Peyton Manning. Manning joined the Broncos this offseason, making the team an immediate contender. Denver has two other quarterbacks on the roster, 26-year-old Caleb Hanie and second year player Adam Weber.

Osweiler said the challenges he faces right away will be learning Denver's complex offense, which centers around a quarterback like Manning who constantly reads defenses at the line of scrimmage and makes changes accordingly. Nevertheless, Osweiler is relishing the challenge ahead.

"My job sitting behind Peyton is not only to push him and get him prepared for each game each week, but also to learn from him on a daily basis," Osweiler said. "It's not his job to babysit me or pass the torch. It's my job to be looking over his shoulder and learn from him and find out why he's so great."

Osweiler said he's been working on his throwing motion and training in preparation for the upcoming rookie mini camp.

And as he arrives on the big stage of the NFL, he doesn't seem to forget where he came from.

"Kalispell is truly the place that shaped me into the person I am today," he said. "Kalispell taught me my work ethic and my determination. A lot of that credit goes to my parents, but also the good old Flathead Valley."

Only time will tell what becomes of Osweiler ~ Aussie.

Reference: Flathead Beacon 1, Zimbio, Flathead Beacon 2, DenverPost

May 18, 2012

WR Rod Smith joins Ring of Fame; CB Bolden signs

Rod Smith becomes 23rd Member of Broncos Ring of Fame

Denver Broncos CEO and Owner Pat Bowlen announced today that Wide Receiver and fan favorite Rod Smith will have his name and number hung from the Ring of Fame facade at Sports Authority Field at Mile High on Sunday September 23, 2012. The Induction ceremony will take place during halftime of the Week 3 contest against the Houston Texans.

"Players like Rod don’t come through your door very often, but he came through ours every day with a purpose and hunger to be great," Bowlen said in a statement. "Rod’s production and numbers -- as outstanding as they were -- paled in comparison to his commitment to winning and the respect he commanded from each and every one of his teammates throughout his career. Emerging from an undrafted player to one of the best to ever play his position, Rod has truly earned his place among the greatest Broncos of all time.

"I am thankful for everything Rod contributed to this franchise during his time with the Broncos, and I congratulate him on his well-deserved election to the Ring of Fame."

The Ring of Fame was created by Bowlen in 1984 to recognize former players and administrators that played significant roles in the franchise's history.

Smith is the first former Bronco elected to the group since tight end Shannon Sharpe joined in 2009. He's the third receiver in the Ring of Fame, joining Lionel Taylor and Haven Moses.

"You couldn’t ask for a better teammate than Rod Smith," Elway said in a statement. "His work ethic, the way he competed and the positive influence he had on others were all qualities that made him one of the best. What a great Bronco who is so deserving of being honored as a member of the Ring of Fame.

"Although he had plenty of catches and touchdowns in his career, the only things that mattered to Rod were winning and competing for Super Bowls. That’s what was most important to him, and it showed in everything he did. Whether it was in the passing game or running game, you always knew Rod would give 100 percent on every play and do whatever it took to help his team win.

"Rod brought his lunch pail to work each day, took nothing for granted and made himself into an elite player. He’s a true pro. In addition to being one of the greatest undrafted players of all time, he’s one of the greatest wide receivers to ever play the position.

"I’m thrilled Rod has been elected to the Denver Broncos Ring of Fame, and I look forward to celebrating his induction this season."

Smith went undrafted in 1994 and signed with the Denver Broncos. His first NFL catch came on a last-minute 43-yard Touchdown pass from John Elway in a 38-31 win against the Washington Redskins on September 17, 1995. In his fourteen years as an NFL player, all with the Broncos, Smith had 8 seasons of at least 1,000 receiving yards. He had two seasons of at least 100 receptions (2000: 100; 2001: 113). Those 113 catches in 2001 led the league. He was a starting wide receiver of the Broncos' back-to-back Super Bowl championships in 1997 and 1998. In the Broncos' 34-19 win in Super Bowl XXXIII, Smith had 5 receptions for 152 yards (the 4th highest total in Super Bowl history), including an 80-yard TD reception. He was a finalist for the Walter Payton Man of the Year Award in 2004.

A hip injury that he suffered in 2006 required a complete hip replacement and Rod announced his formal retirement from professional football on July 24, 2008.

"The Broncos fans are special to me, and I appreciate all you guys really supporting me. I love when I see little kids running around the mall and they have on a No. 80 jersey --- It just makes me smile. They don't know how much that means to me. I'm letting you know, if I don't come up to you personally, I appreciate you, every single one of you."

"Fate put me (in Denver) and I'm glad."

Awards and accomplishments

First and only undrafted player to reach the milestone of 10,000 receiving yards, and the 24th in history to eclipse that figure.
The most catches (849), receiving yards (11,389) and touchdown receptions (68) of any undrafted wide receiver in NFL history.
Holds Denver Broncos franchise records in career receptions (849), receiving yards (11,389) and touchdown catches (68).
Ranks 1st on Denver's all-time yards from scrimmage list (11,737).
Most Reception Yards - Season 1,602 (2000)
Most Consecutive Games With a Reception - 124 (1999-2006)
Most Combined Yardage Career (Rushing/Receiving/Returns) 12,488 (348/11,389/751)
Only the sixth player in NFL history to have 100 receptions against at least three teams (Kansas City Chiefs, San Diego Chargers and Oakland Raiders).
AFC Offensive Player of the Week (Week 15; 12/17/05 against the Buffalo Bills at Buffalo).
Associated Press 2nd-team All-Pro (2000, 2001).
Football Digest 1st-team All-Pro (2000, 2001).
USA Today 1st-team All-Pro (2000).
College and Pro Newsweekly 1st-team All-Pro (2000).
Pro Football Weekly All-AFC (2000, 2001).
Division II Hall of Fame (Inducted in 2008)
College Football Hall of Fame (Inducted in 2009)

It is appropriate that Smith’s induction comes against the Texans. He has some friends on Houston’s staff, including their head coach Gary Kubiak, who played for the Broncos from 1983-91 and then was the Broncos Offensive Coordinator from 1995-2006. Texans Offensive Coordinator Rick Dennison played Linebacker from 1982-90 and coached in Denver from 1995-2009. Wade Phillips (who was the head coach during Rod’s rookie year) coached the Broncos from 1989-94. Assistant O-Line coach Jim Ryan played Linebacker for the Broncos from 1979-88 and coached from 2004-08. Quarterbacks coach Karl Dorrell coached from 2000-02 and Strength and Conditioning coach Cedric Smith from 2001-06.

Gary Kubiak had plenty to say about his former charge:

"I’m not surprised. Of all my time in Denver, obviously we had some great players through those championship years, but no greater example of what it is to be a pro and be a great leader and a great Bronco than Rod Smith, in the community and on the field.

He was a free agent who made his way up through football the hard way and then became a great player. I still recall that big play he made in the Super Bowl against Atlanta, but he made many of those. For me as a coach, he was always the guy in the meeting room that held things together. I can’t tell you how many times I would get upset or something and he would walk over to me and tap on the shoulder and say, ‘I got him,’ or, ‘I got it,’ like, ‘I’ll go take care of that; you don’t worry about it.’ Great man, great person, great football player. Very happy for him, and I guess that’ll be exciting to see when we go down there.

Rod was an unselfish player. Did a lot of dirty work for our football team, kind of like Kevin Walter does for the Houston Texans, as a blocker and those types of things. Here’s a guy who went from a free agent to a leader of a World Championship football team, and you can’t say much more than that.

He’s a prototype football player. That’s what you’re looking for. A lot of guys have talent. There are guys that can run 4.4 and there’s guys that can run 4.6 and play like they’re 4.4, and that’s what Rod was. He played faster – he played better – than everything said he was supposed to play. He was very smart, had it all under control and did it all in one place for many years. That doesn’t happen very often nowadays, so hats off to him."

Smith had a stellar collegiate career at Missouri Southern. He finished his college days with league records in career receiving yards (3,043) and Touchdowns (34). Rod also broke the school's catch record (153), along with being named by several groups as a 1st-Team All-American in his senior year. In his final campaign, Smith caught 63 passes for 986 yards and 13 Touchdowns. He was named the school's Outstanding Graduate in 1994, after completing his collegiate schooling with degrees in economics and finance, general business, as well as marketing and management. Those diplomas have made Rod a successful businessman after his retirement from the Broncos. He is currently a coffee merchant and owns several investment properties.

This honor by the Denver Broncos could not happen to a more deserving man in my opinion. Rod Smith has been the underdog who is living proof that hard work and dedication can and will create success. He is a class act and as humble a man as you could meet.

With two Super Bowl Rings, three Pro Bowl appearances (2000, 2001, 2005), and a controversy-free career noted for professionalism, Smith left the Denver Broncos as one of the most well-loved Broncos players of all time.

"It’s a huge deal," Smith said of the honor on a conference call. "I got a chance to speak to Mr. Bowlen today and just really thanked him for allowing me and my family to be a part of his family. He really allowed me a chance to work for the best organization in all of pro sports."

Smith thanked every player he ever played with, along with a slew of former coaches who he credited with helping him achieve success in the NFL.

Throughout the day, he estimated that he received 50 text messages from those people congratulating him on the news.

"A lot of people are excited, and I’m excited as well," he said. "It’s a testament to where you came from. There are a lot of people that shared that honor with me, not only the people I grew up with from my immediate family, but every guy I ever played high school football with or through college and on and on and on. It’s a huge deal."

It an honor that Smith says means even more to him because of all the other people that share in it as well.

"I’ve always dreamed of that and wanted to have my name next to those guys up there who meant a lot to not just that organization but to the community as well," Smith said. "It’s one of those things where the whole entire community gets a reward. They just pick one person to accept it. I’m just glad that I’m the person that they picked."

One coach that Smith singled out as a major influencer on his career was his wide receiver coach, Mike Heimerdinger.

"Oh man, (he was) everything," Smith said. "If it wasn’t for Mike Heimerdinger, I can promise you we wouldn’t be on the phone right now because he saw more in me than I saw in me at the time. Sometimes that is all you need, for somebody to believe in you more than you even believe in yourself. What I did was borrow his belief in me. He told me I had the talent and had the skills. He spoke those things every single day and then I went out there and I had to go to work for them. … Mike, I’m telling you – to the day I die, he always is going to be a huge part of my family."

Smith, who rose from an undrafted free agent to the all-time leading receiver in Broncos history, was known for his unyielding work ethic. He said that because of the way his career began as an undrafted free agent out of a Division-II school, he always had the mindset that he’d have to outwork other players for his spot on the roster.

"I embraced the path and I didn’t worry about the path," Smith said. "I knew where I wanted to go and I knew I was going to outwork everyone else. When they were gone, I was still working. When they were asleep, I was still working. I tell people that all the time, work works. I wanted to be the best teammate I could be. I knew if I was better, it made our team better.

"You have to clock in and sometimes you don’t clock out,” he continued. “In the NFL, I never clocked out. Once I got in, I didn’t clock out. The day I clocked out was the day I retired. … You want to wake up when you want to wake up. Don’t let them wake you up. That was just kind of my approach."

On what kept him in the league for 14 years:
"My Drive. The hard part wasn't making it in the NFL, it was staying in the NFL. I outworked everyone to keep my job. When they were sleeping, I was working. I did that each and every day."

On the statistics he assembled as a Bronco:
"All I cared about were the Wins. I'm proud of what I accomplished, but the "W's" were all that really mattered."

KK from MHR: Speaking of "topping," how are you going to top Shannon Sharpe's skydiving stunt on his Induction day?
"I ain't gonna do anything stupid like that. I'm not going to jump off anything higher than 3 or 4 feet." I don't know, I haven't thought about that. It'll have to be something special. Mr. Bowlen is paying for it, but I'll tell you right know, I am definitely not jumping out of an airplane. I'm putting that word out right now. Maybe a long fancy car or something. I'm sure it'll be something nice."

On the Hall of Fame:
"I don't get a vote, otherwise I'd vote for me. What do you base it on, catches? I got those. Yards? I got those too. Touchdowns? I mean, why not? My numbers are better than a lot of guts in there."

"I blocked for some Running Backs that gained a lot of yards. That is something I'm real proud of. Me and [Ed] McCaffery were real good blockers. It's all about the team."

Andrew Mason (Max Broncos) asked the final question.
AM: Tell us about your very first catch, that 43-yard Touchdown in the last minute of the Week 3 contest against the Washington Redskins to win the game?
"Ah man, I was playing Special Teams and I stunk. Redskins Strong Safety James Washington had knocked our other Wide Receivers out of the game. We only carried 4 receivers active for the game, so I had to play. I just did what I had to do to put myself in a position to make a play and do the best I could to help my team win. I told my coach that I was terrible all game. I'm just glad we won. Later on I got a call from James. He told me if it wasn't for him, I'd would never have had the career I had. (Chuckles)"

Photo gallery of Rod Smith

A Mile High Salute to Rod Smith, the 23rd member of the Denver Broncos Ring of Fame.

CB Bolden Signs

The Broncos have announced that they signed 4th round pick, CB Omar Bolden to a 4 year contract. Bolden is the first of the Broncos draftees to sign a contract.

Bolden the 101st selection in Aprils NFL Draft totaled 138 tackles, 5 tackles for a loss, 21 pass break ups, and 7 interceptions during his career at Arizona State. Bolden also contributed on special teams with 523 return yards, and 2 total Touchdowns.

Bolden missed all of the 2011 season due to a ACL injury that he suffered, but he figures to compete for playing time at Corner with Chris Harris, Tracy Porter, and recently signed Drayton Florence.

"This is all exciting for me," Bolden said during the club’s rookie minicamp. "I really love this game. Just to have the opportunity to be out here and play in the NFL and for the Broncos, it’s an amazing opportunity."

One down, six to go.

Another busy day of Bronco news in the books ~ Aussie.

May 15, 2012

Denver Broncos Defensive Line Coach Wayne Nunnely Retires

After 36 years of coaching football -- including 17 in the NFL -- Wayne Nunnely is retiring from the game.

"It has been an absolute dream come true for me to coach for 36 years," Nunnely said in a statement. "I am so thankful for all the opportunities I have been given to have a positive impact on others through the game of football. More than anything, I am proud of the accomplishments of the teams and players I have been so privileged to work with over the years."

Nunnely coached the Broncos defensive line for three seasons after spending 12 years coaching that position for the San Diego Chargers and two for the New Orleans Saints at the start of his NFL career.

While the defense became his passion in the professional ranks, it wasn't always that way.

"I was a running back," Nunnely told before the team's 2011 season opener. "I was coaching running backs the first year of my first college job. Our D-line coach quit that spring and for some reason, I always say it was God’s will, he came to me and asked if I would coach the D-line. I coached it that year, left there, went to another school, coached D-line, went back to running backs for about eight years, and ended up with the D-line once again at UCLA – my last college job. And then I was in the NFL after that – I’ve been coaching the D-line ever since. It was meant to be to coach the D-line, because my expertise at that time was running backs, but the good Lord saw fit for me that he knew in the future I was going to be coaching D-line."

And he excelled coaching that position.

His lines have contributed to seven seasons in which his teams have ranked among the league's top seven clubs in rushing yards per game allowed -- including No. 1 with San Diego in 2005 and 1998.

In his first season with the Broncos, he coached the only line in the league comprised entirely of first-year full-time starters, and the team's three down linemen helped the Broncos rank seventh in the league in both yards per game and yards per play allowed in 2009. In addition, his group played a role in the club's 39 sacks -- the highest total in seven years and 10th-best output in the league that season.

Last season, Nunnely coached an entirely new defensive front for the second consecutive season in addition to implementing new schematic responsibilities with the defense’s conversion to a 4-3 base. Elvis Dumervil earned his second career Pro Bowl selection in 2011 and the defensive line helped the Broncos post 41 sacks to mark their highest total in 11 years.

"Wayne has been an outstanding teacher and mentor for so many players and coaches throughout his career," Head Coach John Fox said in a statement. "His passion for the game is something that I greatly admire, and it’s one of the many reasons why he was so valued and respected as a coach. Although I only had the opportunity to work with Wayne for one season, it was a pleasure to watch him coach. His positive influence on the defensive line was an important part of our team’s success."

"When Wayne reflects on everything he accomplished in his career, I hope he is as proud as I am of what he has done as a coach. I am happy that Wayne will have the opportunity to spend more time with his family, and I congratulate him on a great coaching career."

During his time in the NFL, Nunnely coached a number of talented players, including three Pro Bowlers in Jamal Williams, Marcellus Wiley and Dumervil.

"He’s a great man and a great mentor off the field as well," Dumervil said of Nunnely. "He helped me become a mature person off the field. He’s a great technician coach. He was always fiery and he always had it in gameday, practice -- he always came with it every day to work. Those were things I learned from him, no matter how you feel, you have to come to work every day, day in and day out. It’s all about consistency and he showed a good example and was a role model for our defensive linemen."

Defensive tackle Kevin Vickerson called Nunnely a "perfectionist," and said the defensive linemen will miss him this season.

Defensive end Robert Ayers agreed.

"He definitely was, in my opinion, a very great coach in this league," Ayers said. "He’s very established, and if you look at his résumé and the guys that he’s coached there are a lot of Pro Bowlers and a lot of great players. He’s going to be missed and we definitely learned a lot from him. He brought a lot to work. Guys fed off his tenacity. His passion for the game was intense and we all fed off that."

One of the first African-American head coaches at the Division I level, Nunnely spent 18 years coaching in college including a four-year stint as the head coach of his alma mater, UNLV.

Nunnely, 60, is married to Velda and they have three sons, Steven, Channing and Aaron, and one daughter, Amber.

"This was not an easy decision, but it was the right one for me and my family," Nunnely said. "At this stage of my life, I want to devote more time to my wife, Velda, and the rest of our family. They have been with me every step of the way through an incredible career that I’ve been so blessed to enjoy. The NFL has a wonderful retirement plan, and it’s time for me to begin the next chapter of my life."

"I will truly miss being around so many dedicated players and coaches here in Denver. I look forward to watching the Broncos and wish them all the best this season."

Nunnely was very well liked. The last couple of years at Training Camp it was common to hear the rich baritone announce the theme for the Denver Defense, "Nobody runs on the Broncos!" This is a coach that players and even the fans loved. Nunnely has a good nature to him and a contagious laugh to go along with it. He was always cordial to the fans at Training Camp and would come over to chat and sign autographs.

Wayne started coaching 36 years ago in 1975. He coached at Cal Poly Pomona, CSUF, University of the Pacific, USC, UCLA as well as a tenure at Head Coach foe his alma mater UNLV from 1986-89. Nunnely coached Running Backs at first because he was familiar with the position. He played Fullback with the Running Rebels.

After 18 seasons as a college coach, Wayne graduated to the NFL, joining the the New Orleans Saints in 1995. He coached them for two seasons. He then spent 12 years (1997-2008) coaching the Defensive Line for the San Diego Chargers and has been with the Broncos for the past three seasons.

The D-Line may be in good hands with Mr. Rodgers, but we are going to miss that baritone battlecry, "Nobody runs on the Denver Broncos!"

With Wayne Nunnely retiring, Jay Rodgers — who spent the past three seasons as a defensive assistant with the club, including working primarily with Nunnely and the defensive line in 2011 — now takes over as the club’s defensive line coach. The 35-year-old Rodgers is entering his fourth year with the Broncos and is the younger brother of special teams coordinator Jeff Rodgers, who begins his second year in that position for Denver.

"I’m excited for this opportunity,” Rodgers said. “I am extremely grateful to Coach Nunnely for all I’ve learned from him over the past three seasons."

Rodgers is in his fourth season with the club after working nine seasons at the collegiate level.

"The defensive line will be in good hands with Jay Rodgers, whom I’ve worked with very closely for the last three years,” Nunnely said. “He is very deserving of this opportunity, which he has earned through his hard work and knowledge. Jay has many great qualities as a person and coach that will make him successful in his new role."

Head Coach John Fox said he has no doubt that Rodgers’ time with Nunnely "has prepared him for this opportunity that he has earned," and defensive end Elvis Dumervil agreed.

"He’s a young, bright coach," Dumervil said of Rodgers. "He knows a lot — he’s been around. I think he’s extremely smart. He’s learned a lot from Coach Nunnely as well and I think his future is bright. It was very fortunate to be able to have Coach Rodgers on staff and get him in. But, also sad to have Coach Nunnely retire."

The Broncos will be back on the practice field this coming Monday for OTAs.

Photos of Nunnely during his time with the Broncos

Nunnely will be missed ~ Aussie.

May 13, 2012

Philip Blake

I should have OK'd this with you first G, but I was reading IAOFM and decided I wanted to post about our new #64 (the year I was born). Sorry if you had something already done on him. I can always take it down if you did.

I like who we drafted this year and where we are headed as a team right now because of something we haven't had in many years, the foresight of drafting starters of the future. One of our picks I'm excited about is exactly that, a future starter.

Taken at pick #108 in the fourth round by Denver, Phillip Blake played right tackle at Baylor when Broncos J.D. Walton was handling the center duties for the team. After Walton was drafted in the third round by Denver in 2010, Blake took over at center and was a second-team All-Big 12 pick by the Associated Press in 2010 and a first-team All-Big 12 selection in 2011. Will he take over at center again for Walton? Probably not this year. Was he drafted as a RT then, allowing Franklin to move inside? No. Even though he played there in college, he does not have the measurables (Combine numbers are a height of 6-2 1/4, 312 lb and 32-inch arms) or technique to be a starter there at the NFL level.

Doc at IAOFM is someone whom I respect greatly as a football guru. Especially on his analysis of the OL. Here is his take on Blake.

"Blake is highly effective if he gets his hands into a defender's numbers. If he fails to, he can be pushed backward. He is capable of re-anchoring, but he has to learn to maximize his technique - he's powerful, but he has 32-inch arms. That's somewhat short for the NFL, but it's hardly the kiss of death. Former Bronco Kory Lichtensteiger is still playing center for Washington, and his arms are only 30 3/8 inches long. Blake is fine there. As far as his ability to re-anchor, that Blake can squat 635 lbs says volumes about his potential ability there. This seems like a mantra of late, but it's also true that he needs to learn to drive from his core muscles. He's a solid run blocker, but pass protection is probably his forte. As noted, he's got a strong bubble and anchors very well - when he's pushed backwards, he's usually able to re-anchor, or he was at the college level. He's not the quickest player, but he does have a nice first step. If he uses it to fire into the defender using his core muscles he's very effective. When he fails to drive his hips, he can be redirected. He does stay low in short-yardage situations, but he doesn't have a history of pushing the pile as effectively as you'd think that he's capable of doing - whatever his age, he's mostly just lacking in pro-level training, conditioning, and the coaching of technique. When Blake's technique is on, he's a very effective player. When it's not, he loses battles more often."

"There’s one thing about Blake that’s been debated in the reporting - he was dunned in his scouting reports as far as pulling goes, and he was criticized as having slow feet. I haven’t seen that - actually, he seems fairly smooth when pulling. It’s fair to say, though, that he sometimes struggles to find and maintain his target on the second level. Part of that is that he was in an up-tempo system at Baylor that didn’t suit him as well as it might. He does have a nice shotgun snap, and seems to have no trouble with the QB under center, either. The basics are there - skill, versatility, toughness, a willingness to be coached, and the raw power to turn into a quality NFL starter. Despite having already finished his degree in sociology that summer, Blake decided to return to Baylor to develop his game before moving to the NFL. It was a good decision. To finish off his final season, Blake played an essential role for a Baylor Bears offensive unit that piled up 777 yards of total offense and posted 67 points in Baylor's Alamo Bowl victory over Washington. It was a game worth coming back for. Returning for an additional season after graduation permitted Blake to focus more intently on his football skills, and it shows. His invites to both the Senior Bowl and Combine were a testament to his hard work and intensity.

Blake is older than all of our current starting offensive linemen except Chris Kuper.  However, he does have six years of collegiate football experience, and that's going to help. He scored a 35 on the Wonderlic, and John Elway is impressed with his intelligence and football IQ, which is a requirement at center. Kuper is said to be recovering well from his gruesome injury. If he can return with the same capabilities as before is a big question mark. Blake would be able to start in Kupe's place until he is fully recovered if need be. Even if Blake doesn't start as a rookie, he is a starter in training. He'll push the guards and push Walton at center during TC to be at the top of their game.

Blake is strictly to be considered as a interior OL backup at this point with huge potential to become a high quality starter if someone should go down like Kuper did last year. Something we very much needed IMO. Huge improvement over Hochstein.

Quick Bio
Blake started all 38 games he played in at Baylor – twelve at right offensive tackle and 26 at center…During that time, his total of 254 knockdown blocks and 48 touchdown-resulting blocks were the most for any interior blocker (guard and center) in the big Twelve Conference ranks…Along with Regina defensive tackle Akeem Hicks, Blake might hold the rare distinction among 2012 NFL Draft prospects for being the only players taken in the NFL phase that also were selected in the Canadian Football League Draft (Blake was the 23rd overall choice by the Montreal Alouettes in the 2011 CFL Draft).

5.25 in the 40-yard dash…1.79 10-yard dash…2.90 20-yard dash…4.65 20-yard shuttle…7.86 three-cone drill…29 ½-inch vertical jump…8’9” broad jump…Bench pressed 225 pounds 22 times…635-pound squat…31 7/8-inch arm length…9 ¾- inch hands…78 ¼-inch wingspan.

Blake graduated from Father Henry Carr Catholic Secondary School in Etobicoke, Ontario in 2005…Later played football as a center at Champlain Regional College in Lennoxville, Quebec, where he was a teammate of former Baylor linebacker Fred Plesius.

Graduated from Baylor in August, 2011 with a degree in Sociology…Son of the late Llewellyn Blake and Patricia Blake…Selected 23rd overall in 2011 Canadian Football League Draft by Montreal Alouettes…Born Philip Anthony Blake on 11/27/85, in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.