DENVER -- His big dream didn't fit his large body.
Ron Leary admitted Friday growing up "he wanted to be the next Mike." He boasted hoop star skills, but a frame more suited for a road grader than a high-volume shooter.
"I'm 320 pounds. I am not going to be Michael Jordan," Leary said.
Leary strapped on football pads as a junior in high school. He struggled, but refused to quit. As he learned the game, he honed his skills. He lettered his final two prep seasons at Southern Lab High School in Baton Rouge, La., and became one of four players to receive Division I scholarships.
Leary excelled at the University of Memphis, and despite predictions that a degenerative knee condition would derail his pro career, the only boy among his parents' seven children forged on.
"I relied on my faith," Leary said.
In Leary, the Broncos identified a physical player capable of kickstarting a running game that ranked 27th in rushing at 92.8 yards per game. As a starting left guard, he helped the Dallas Cowboys average 149.8 yards.
"We are absolutely thrilled. He's the type of player we were looking for," general manager John Elway said.
At his essence, Leary is physical blocker. Watch the game film last season, and the Broncos were regularly pushed around at the point of attack.
"Run blocking is about attitude," said Leary, who signed a four-year, $35 million deal, with $20 million guaranteed. "You want to be bullies on the line."
For Leary, the Broncos provided a winning environment and opportunity. He lost and regained his starting job in Dallas. There was no guarantee on playing time with the return of a healthy La'el Collins. Leary, who turns 28 in April, provides a core player for a rebuilding line that added former Oakland right tackle Menelik Watson on Friday,
"I am open to playing left or right," said Leary, who is more likely to stay on the left side. "I couldn't ask for a better situation -- great team, great teammates, great organization."
What about at quarterback? Leary left the Cowboys, who are attempting to trade veteran Tony Romo. Will Leary attempt to recruit his former teammate?
"Tony's a great guy, a great teammate. I'm here in Denver now. We have two great young quarterbacks," Leary said. "He definitely has football left."