Growing Pains

Aug 282005
Authors: Brett Okamoto

Bradlee Van Pelt is all grown up.

Well sort of.

For those who have been fortunate enough to run into Van Pelt – whether it was at class, at a bar or cliff diving up the Poudre River – people know that he was not your average football player.

David Anderson, senior wide receiver for the Rams this year, remembered one weekend Van Pelt decided to go to Lake Havasu, even though it was the middle of the season. He was a little late getting back and drove straight up to the practice field – still in his board shorts.

Van Pelt's board short-uniform days are over and the 25-year-old admits that he's had to do some growing up since his carefree days at CSU.

"I don't snowboard anymore, I don't ride my skateboard that much," Van Pelt said. "That's just the way it has to be. I have to focus in and I'm just finding out what I'm capable of now that I've put my focus into football."

CSU fans already had an idea of what Van Pelt was capable of when he led the Rams to a 10-4 record in 2002. Van Pelt also threw for 6,165 yards during his time at CSU, fourth most in school history.

Now Denver Broncos fans are starting to find out.

Van Pelt, who was named the Broncos' backup quarterback this season after spending last year on the practice squad, has had an impressive preseason. Highlighted by a 40-yard-scramble against the Texans, Van Pelt has shown both his ability to pass and run at the pro level.

He's earned the respect of his teammates along the way.

"If you know Brad at all you know he's not shy, he's not timid," said Charlie Adams, second-string wide receiver for the Broncos. "He takes control of the huddle and let's everyone know he's in charge.

"No jitters from Brad he's doing alright."

Van Pelt entered Saturday's preseason game against the Colts with 2:25 remaining in the third quarter. After two unsuccessful series, Van Pelt got into a groove and ended up leading the Broncos on two scoring drives.

As a starter for CSU, Van Pelt had the luxury of falling into the flow of the game right from the beginning. Backup quarterbacks aren't so lucky.

"Tonight's game is an example of trying to get on rhythm and time runs out," said Van Pelt about his slow start and limited time. "But that's just part of being a backup quarterback. The coaches have told me before, sometimes you're gonna get called up and you gotta be on rhythm from the first snap."

Even though his old CSU fans mostly cherish the big plays, Van Pelt said his highlight comes on every snap.

"Even when I make a mistake or have a bad game I'm still tickled pink to know I'm out there with the big boys," said Van Pelt after Saturday's game against the Indianapolis Colts. "And [knowing] that it's all gonna come together one day."

After the game Saturday night Van Pelt was joking around with Jake Plummer, until the starting quarterback was summoned to the cameras for post-game interviews. Van Pelt started walking off to the shower room, only to reappear suddenly, half-naked, jumping and clapping his hands in an effort to make Plummer laugh or look away from his live interview.

Yeah, Van Pelt is all grown up these days.


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