This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2017, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
As he walked down the steps to the NFL Draft stage in Philadelphia, Garett Bolles took someone with him: his four-month old son, Kingston.
He hugged NFL commissioner Roger Goodell with one arm, a bespoke-dressed Kingston cradled in the other.
"I couldn't be here without him he's been the best thing that's happened to me in the last four months," Bolles said on the NFL Network broadcast. "This is the second best."
The 24-year-old accomplished a long-held dream on Thursday night when the Denver Broncos picked him 20th overall in the NFL Draft. The 6-foot-5 offensive tackle became the first pick from the University of Utah in the first round since 2013.
Touted as the most athletic tackle in the draft after a stellar Combine performance in February, Bolles will be expected to boost Denver's flagging rushing attack and help block for another former Ute, running back Devontae Booker.
Bolles served an LDS Church mission in Colorado Springs, Colo. Addressing Broncos fans in a post-selection interview, Bolles told them he was "coming home," in a sense.
"You're gonna find a guy with a chip on his shoulder who's going there to get work done," he said. "I love playing the offensive line, just doing everything I can. I love football, man. That's what it takes. I'm ready to go and help Denver win another Super Bowl."
Bolles' journey to the NFL was a winding one.
As a teenager in Utah County, Bolles switched schools several times before winding up on the wrong side of the law. He spent time in jail after being caught vandalizing the football field at Lehi High School. Not long after, his father kicked him out of the house, and he was taken in by the family of his lacrosse coach.
Bolles credits his Mormon faith for helping turn his life around: After serving his mission, he went to Snow College and developed into the No. 1-ranked junior college recruit in the country.
"Everyone told me I can't make it here," he said on the broadcast. "Everyone doubted me, and everyone didn't really believe in me. But to all those kids who struggle with a learning disability or get in trouble with the law, it doesn't matter. You just gotta find yourself with the good Lord. He's gonna bless you. So don't let anyone tell you you can't do it, because you can make it."
Bolles' tenure at Utah was a short one: He signed with the Utes in 2016, and started every game for the Utes during his one season, earning all-Pac-12 honors at left tackle. By October, after Bolles had helped pave the way for a 332-yard game by Joe Williams against UCLA, Pro Football Focus rated him as the top run-blocking tackle in the country.
In January, Bolles declared for the NFL Draft, citing his young family his wife Natalie Bolles had given birth to Kingston only weeks before.
It was Kingston who stole the show during the draft. As Deion Sanders interviewed Bolles following his selection, he leaned toward the infant and asked: "Does Kingston know that Daddy's rich now?"
Last year's 20th draft pick, Darron Lee of the New York Jets, signed a contract valued at $10.2 million with a $7.9 million signing bonus.
The Broncos needed line help after trailing the rest of the NFL in rushing for the past two seasons.
Tweeted Broncos general manager John Elway: "Excited that Garett Bolles was available for us to take w/our 1st rd pick. He was the most athletic tackle in the draft & plays w/toughness!"
Bolles was also joined in Philadelphia by his wife, his biological father, his adoptive family the Freemans, his in-laws and Utah coaches Kyle Whittingham and Jim Harding.
Bolles is the eighth overall Ute to be picked in the first round of the draft, the first since Star Lotulelei in 2013. He's also the first offensive lineman from Utah to go in the first round since Jordan Gross in 2003.