With the very recent signing of Joel Dreessen to a Denver Broncos contract, his return home prompted me to take a look at the common bond he shares with other previous Broncos.
This blog won’t be about Peyton Manning and might not be as interesting to some readers, but it might be a fun look at 12 players who grew up in Colorado, played high school football in our state, went on to play college football in Colorado, and then reached the NFL with the Broncos, the team that all of them grew up watching.
Dreessen went to Fort Morgan High School and was on the state 3A championship tam there in 1999. He had the added honor of being named a National Football Foundation Scholar-Athlete, making him the only Bronco player ever to have a Colorado prep state title, NFF scholar/athlete status, plus in state college play (Colorado State) and ultimately the Broncos. When you can count the list on a single thumb, that’s a short list to be on.
There are 11 others who played at all three levels in Colorado, even though they did not necessarily win a state prep title.
Alphabetically, Dreessen’s 11 “teammates” on this list include:
The University of Colorado’s legendary Bobby Anderson, an All-American for the Buffs who played in high school at Boulder and was Denver’s number one draft choice in 1971—he is the only one on this list to have been a number one selection in the NFL draft.
He did lead Boulder HS to the 1963 state title, was inducted into the Colorado High School Activities Association Hall of Fame in January, and also is a member of the College Football Hall of Fame, the Big Eight Hall of Fame and the Colorado Sports Hall of Fame. And if the NFF had been doing their scholar/athlete awards for high school products back in 1963, Bobby probably would have won that too!
Ronnie Bradford went to Adams City HS and played defensive back at CU before becoming a Bronco from 1993-95.
Jeff Campbell (who sometimes had the nickname “Soupy,” as in the soup) was a tough but diminutive punt return specialist who went from Battle Mountain HS to the CU Buffs to a 1994 campaign with the Broncos.
Rick Dennison prepped at Rocky Mountain HS and then went on to play at CSU, where he also earned a master’s degree in aeronautical engineering, then had a notable two-decade career with the Broncos as a player and coach. People often say you don’t need to be a rocket scientist to play and coach pro football, but Rick is one, regardless!
Daniel Graham went to Denver’s Thomas Jefferson HS, then on to CU and played for the Broncos from 2007-10. An excellent tight end, Daniel has the distinction of being the only member of this list who is also part of a father-and-son Broncos tandem, as his dad Tom was a fine linebacker for the Broncos during his own NFL career.
Dave Logan joins Anderson as the two most accomplished multi-sport athletes on this list. Logan is one of just two players, ever—with Dave Winfield being the other—to have been drafted in football, baseball and basketball. Logan prepped at Wheat Ridge HS before going on to CU and then having a stint with the Broncos to end his pro career. Of course, Logan also is the Broncos’ radio voice on KOA and had won six state titles as a high school coach. Dave Logan is the only prep coach in American history to have won six state titles at the highest level of classification with at least three different schools (Arvada West, Chatfield, and four at Mullen). Again, he is on a national list that you can count on one finger.
Keli McGregor is known to most as the late, brilliant president of the Colorado Rockies. But back in the day, before his administrative career in baseball, he was a football star for thr Lakewood HS Tigers, went on to play at CSU, and then began his pro career with the Denver Broncos in 1985.
Erik Pears is a huge (6-8, 305-pound) NFL tackle who started with the Broncos from 2006-08, but before that he played HS football at Kennedy and college ball for the CSU Rams.
Tyler Polumbus was an offensive tackle at Cherry Creek before matriculating at CU and playing for the Broncos from 2008-09.
Tom Rouen has two world championship rings as the Broncos’ punter in Super Bowls XXXII and XXXIII, but his did his first punting at Heritage HS and for the CU Buffs. Rouen punted for Denver from 1993-2002, and before winning championship bling with the Broncos was the punter on Cu’s national championship team as well!
Ed Smith is not well known to the modern era fan, but he is one of the most unusual guys on this list. Smith is a native of Nassau, Bahamas who never had seen football until he came to Denver during his junior year of high school. Smith played at George Washington HS and then went on to play at the highly prestigious Colorado College, where he made his mark as a three-year starter and Kodak All-American. He is in the Colorado College Hall of Fame. The first Bahamian to play in the NFL, Ed Smith was drafted in the 13th round by the Broncos as a 230-pound defensive end in 1973 and played in Denver from 1973-75. He was listed at 241 pounds as an NFL defensive end but made up for it with tremendous speed and overall athleticism.
That’s the list, twelve players who played high school and college football in Colorado and ultimately achieved professional success with the Denver Broncos.
Tags: Bobby Anderson, Colorado, Colorado State, Daniel Graham, Dave Logan, Ed Smith, Erik Pears, Jeff Campbell, Jim Saccomano, Joel Dreessen, Keli McGregor, Rick Dennison, Ronnie Bradford, Tom Rouen, Tyler Polumbus, University of Colorado