At Senior Bowl, Dalton Risner carries Colorado pride

MOBILE, Ala. -- Offensive lineman Dalton Risner is a product of Kansas State, and he's proud of his alma mater.

But he's also a son of Colorado. He's proud of being from Wiggins, a town on the eastern plains not far from Fort Morgan.

"I love Colorado," Risner said.

The state produces its share of NFL players, but they usually come from out of the larger schools along the front range. Few come from places like Wiggins, a 1A school with an enrollment of approximately 150 students.

"Guys will come out of Cherry Creek and Valor Christian. Christian McCaffrey [from Valor Christian] is a a good friend of mine; he's playing in the NFL. And you never heard of Wiggins, Colorado," Risner said.

"When I meet people like you, [they say] 'Oh, where's Wiggins again?' And I hope at one point everyone knows where Wiggins, Colorado is. I'm so proud because of the community there that supports me, whether it's positive or negative, they're always there behind me. It's not just my dream, but everyone else back home, it's a part of their dream, as well."

And like many Colorado kids who play football, Risner is a die-hard Broncos fan.

"I grew up going to Broncos games all the time. I was watching the Broncos for the Jake Plummer days and the Kyle Orton days," Risner said. "I'm a true Broncos fan. I remember the last game I was at, they were playing the Cleveland Browns at home ... and I told myself, 'The next time I'm at the stadium, I'm either going to be playing the Broncos or playing for the Broncos.'"

Either way, that chance to return to Broncos Stadium at Mile High will be special.

"I'd love to play for any of the 32 teams; any of that would be a blessing," Risner said. "But if I got to come home to play for the Denver Broncos, man, I'd need at least a day to cry in my room. It would just be a blessing, man."

As much as Risner loves the Broncos, he respects the process and his coaches, even when they wear silver and black, as is the case this week. Oakland's staff is coaching the North team, and his respect for those guiding him comes out in how he calls Raiders offensive line coach Tom Cable, "Mr. Cable" when referencing him in conversation.

He also knows he's getting pushed as he never has before. The NFL is a tough-love environment, and Risner is finding out just how tough that is.

"[Cable] told us that guys are going to be puking. Guys are going to be letting bodily fluid out of their bodies during practice. And we were huffing and puffing [Wednesday]," Risner said. "I like a coach that gets on to me. You don't want a guy in your face spitting and slobbering, but if that's what they do, I'm okay with that.

"I would much rather a coach be in my face than a coach be from a distance telling me I do good on every rep. I want to get better. I don't want to get complacent, whether I'm a first-year rookie in the NFL or if I'm a 10-year vet, I want to continue to get better."

And wherever he goes and however long he plays, Risner will take Colorado, his hometown of Wiggins, and a love of the game built in part by his love of the Broncos with him.

"I've got mountains [tattooed] on each one of my arms,” Risner said. “I love that place. But even more than that, I take a lot of pride in being from Wiggins."

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