Broncos defensive lineman Ben Garland, who participated in the team’s training camp in 2010 before returning to the Air Force, has successfully applied to the Air Force’s Palace Chase program.
Defensive Line Coach Wayne Nunnely said he’s happy to have him back.
“His work ethic is outstanding,” Nunnely said. “And I told him this, if he is a representative of our Armed Forces, we are in great shape. Because he exemplifies all of the great qualities – the great work ethic, the great discipline, all those kinds of things that you want in people who are guarding our country. It’s those same attributes that you want in an athlete and he has all that. I don’t know in my 36 years of coaching if I’ve worked with anybody more disciplined, with such a great work ethic, than Ben.”
After two years of service, airmen that have the opportunity for a career that will benefit the Air Force in recruiting or public affairs can apply for the program, which grants them an early release.
“I think what a great opportunity as an Air Force Lieutenant – if I was able to play and make the team, every time I make a tackle they are going to say Ben Garland from the Air Force,” Garland said. “That public affairs exposure for the Air Force is going to give them more exposure than any bus sign or billboard. I think it’s really win-win for both.”
He saved all of his leave time during his two years of service so that he could participate in the Broncos’ voluntary workouts this spring and summer.
When he was last with the team, Garland finished the 2010 preseason tied for third among the team’s defensive linemen with 6 tackles and impressed the coaching staff with his dedication and work ethic.
At the Air Force Academy, Garland totaled 115 tackles, 11.5 sacks, three forced fumbles and two blocked kicks in 39 career games played — including 34 starts — for the Falcons.
During his time in the military, Garland focused on his duties as an airman, but with the help of other Air Force alums who reached the NFL, he knew what he had to do to keep his dream of playing in the NFL alive.
“That’s one of the great things about being in the Air Force,” he said. “It’s a brotherhood. I got a phone call from almost every one of (the Air Force alums that played in the NFL) trying to help me out and saying, ‘Hey, this is what you have to do. You have to make the Air Force your priority. You have to work hard and do what you can and then if you’re able to come out after making the Air Force your priority and play for a team, then go for it.’”
Now Garland is doing just that — going for it — after two years away from the game.
Nunnely said it will be a challenge for the defensive lineman to make the team, but that if anybody can tackle it, it’s Garland.
“He’ll compete,” Nunnely said. “With his work ethic, there’s no telling. The sky is the limit.”
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