Perseverance was the word of the day Wednesday at the Pro Football Camp at John Venezia Community Park in Colorado Springs.
And that's why Broncos defensive lineman and CSU-Pueblo grad Deyon Sizer was chosen to speak to the several hundred kids in attendance.
"You guys probably all have a lot of dreams to play in the NFL," Sizer said. "To do that, you guys have to work through a lot."
Sizer has spent the last two seasons with the Broncos, mostly on the practice squad. A graduate of Eaglecrest High School just outside of Denver, Sizer has dreamt of playing for the Broncos most of his life.
Having not generated much attention out of high school and wanting to stay close to home, Sizer attended CSU-Pueblo where he became a standout defensive end and won a Division II national championship as a freshman in 2014. In his four seasons there he played in 41 games, totaling 138 tackles and 10 sacks.
Going undrafted in 2019, he signed with the Broncos where he eventually made the practice squad and even made the active roster the last three weeks of the 2019-20 regular season. He spent last season on the practice squad, having been cut and resigned several times the last two years.
Still, Sizer is grateful for the opportunity the Broncos have provided him.
"It's been really cool, being home and being able to be in Colorado and play for the home team," Sizer said. "The feeling's been surreal. There's so much love from everyone and just that sense of being home. It's really an indescribable feeling."
For Teddi Domann, who runs the annual three-day camp, Sizer is exactly the type of player she wants there. Sure, having a star player like Von Miller or Jerry Jeudy would be nice, but Sizer's story is one most kids can relate to.
That's why Domann invited not only Sizer, but also former Air Force offensive lineman and Colorado native Nolan Laufenberg, who signed with the Broncos as an undrafted free agent this offseason, and former Broncos offensive lineman Chris Kuper, who is now the Broncos' assistant offensive line coach.
"To have Broncos, that's just icing on the cake," said Domann, who started the youth camp 16 years ago. "The majority of these kids are Broncos fans. For them to have that local connection and having Deyon come because he was CSU-Pueblo — there's something about seeing guys from your local roots who've walked on this soil and being able to say, 'I can do that, too.'"
Sizer, Laufenberg and Kuper were two of 10 former or current local NFL players to attend the camp, each possessing a story of some sort of perseverance or tie to Colorado.
In a couple weeks, Sizer and Laufenberg will battle to make the 53-man roster at Broncos training camp. But for now, they're going to enjoy the time off and reflect on why they fell in love with the game.
"Being out here with these kids, seeing their joy for the game, I remember how I fell in love with the game," Sizer said. "At this age, man, just have fun with it. Everyone has that dream of playing in the big leagues and things like that, but you've got to enjoy the game, you've got to have a love for the game. You can tell all the kids out here have a love for the game. I have a love for the game.
"If you love the game, the pieces will fall into the right places if you just work hard and persevere."