Running back Ronnie Hillman has known Head Coach John Fox for years.
Fox played two seasons as a defensive back for San Diego State — where Hillman attended — before serving a year on the Aztecs coaching staff as a graduate assistant.
There’s a picture commemorating Fox’s time with his alma mater — right by the elevator — and Hillman saw it daily during his time at the school.
“He had actually met me before he’d met me,” Fox laughed.
Hillman said it was interesting to meet his head coach after seeing his picture every day for two-and-a-half years.
“He looks a little younger in (the photo),” he joked.
All joking aside, Hillman described Fox as a “fair, tough, hard-nosed guy.”
He said he’s talked with Fox a little about San Diego State, but for now, he’s more worried about preparing for the season.
Friday’s opening practice of the club’s rookie minicamp brought a few nerves for the rookies, but Hillman said he enjoyed finally getting back to football.
“It was real fun,” he said. “I just have to get used to the pace and learn the players and learn the blocking scheme and everything. It was kind of relaxing just to finally get out there and get all the jitters out.”
Putting on his jersey for the first time was a culmination of a lot of hard work for Hillman.
“It was just like you finally made it,” he said. “I’ve been playing this game since I was eight-years old. It’s been a goal for my whole life and finally to get to be here and the Broncos giving me an opportunity, and I plan on capitalizing on it.”
The running back will wear No. 34 in honor of his favorite running back growing up — Ricky Williams — and Walter Payton.
Hillman knows those are big names to live up to, and he said his very first step will be getting used to the speed of the game.
Fox said the team liked what it saw in Hillman in college. Now it’s on him to transition those skills to the NFL.
“He has some God-given abilities to, we think, play this game at a high level,” Fox said. “What he does with that is going to be up to him. We’re going to give him every opportunity to show his skills.”