True Grit: Chronicling Fullback Andy Janovich's Arduous Path To The Denver Broncos & Life As Pro

Andy Janovich has overcome some enormous obstacles on his way to the Denver Broncos.

They say the key to happiness is to focus on what you have and not what you don’t. While rumors have been running rampant on the impending future of Von Miller, let’s take a moment to celebrate what the Denver Broncos will be bringing to the field in 2016.

The Broncos have successfully signed each and every one of their eight promising draft picks from the 2016 NFL Draft.  One of the most scrutinized picks was that of Nebraska Cornhuskers fullback Andy Janovich in the sixth round. 

When the Broncos snagged Janovich off the board there were still many potential fullbacks who seemed more promising, or better poised to slide into NFL rotation, than the 6-foot-1 small-town rural boy.

So what did head coach Gary Kubiak and GM John Elway see in the Husker that left many in Broncos Country scratching their heads?

In 2015, it was no secret that the Broncos offense struggled for a variety of reasons.  We knew coming into 2016 that improving the offense would be Denver's primary focus.

Kubiak and Elway made strategic decisions throughout the offseason to ensure 2016 had the same potential as last year’s Super Bowl Championship team.  And although Janovich may not have the stats or the accolades as other draft picks, there is something instilled in him that you can’t train—heart.

Andy Janovich is a small town kid from Gretna, Nebraska, with a small-town upbringing and small-town values. Growing up in a rural area like Gretna developed the key characteristics that set Andy apart from other draft picks. After all, in small-town America, teamwork is a necessity, as community members rely on each other. These characteristics are what make Janovich a diamond-in-the-rough type of player, a sleeper, who you would never see coming. Andy chose to walk on at Nebraska over a scholarship offer from Nebraska-Kearney.

It was on that field, day in and day out, that Andy would work his way from walk-on player to scholarship athlete, from scholarship athlete to eligible NFL Draft pick, and eventually from potential draft pick to hearing his name called on Draft day by the defending Super Bowl Champions. That alone speaks to his work ethic, his dedication, and not only the type of player he is, but also the type of man Andy Janovich is.

Hard work, sacrifice, and fortitude have been instilled in his roots both on and off the field—long before his days at Nebraska.  In fact, relentless determination is more than just a trait Andy developed over the years, its embedded in his DNA.

In 1995, when Andy was just three years old, his mother, Margie, was diagnosed with thyroid cancer while five months pregnant with is baby sister, Mary Beth.  The mother of eight children already, Andy being the youngest at the time, Margie chose to forgo treatments and chemotherapy until her baby was born in order to give her baby daughter the best chance to be born.

Her decision saved the life of her child but made her battle with cancer that much more challenging. Unfortunately, 20 months later, Margie would sadly succumb to her illness on March 9, 1997.

In so doing, at such a formative age for Andy, Margie left a legacy to her children—to Andy, like no other. She was selfless and taught Andy that sacrifice at the greatest cost is sometimes necessary to reach your greatest potential.

For Margie, her sacrifice was to bring her child into this world, and for Andy it has marked his road to the NFL. Margie's courage was by far an exception rather than the rule, and Andy has continued to emulate her legacy each day on the field.

In the face of challenges, setbacks, or obstacles standing in the way, Andy learned from his mother that just because it isn’t easy doesn’t mean it isn’t worth it. Truthfully, coming into the Draft, Andy didn’t even know if his hard work would make the cut. 

“I was just really unsure," Janovich said. "I had heard I could go free agent and all that stuff and I know the [fullback] breed is dying, so I wasn’t sure what to expect with the draft. I was confident I could get on a team through free agency, but I didn’t know about the draft.” Despite being ignored heavily in his sophomore and junior year at Nebraska, Janovich left it all out on the field his senior campaign. And once he was unleashed, there was no stopping that train.

He proved to the naysayers that he had both the talent and the work ethic to succeed in the NFL. Janovich’s senior performance on special teams, in addition to his fullback responsibilities, would be the definitive proof, showing NFL teams that they shouldn't discount the small-town boy with big-city dreams.

“It showed that I’m a little more versatile, that I’m not just going out there and blocking people, but I can run the ball too and I can do multiple things," he said. "I think that’s a really big part of it.”

Measureables aside, his performance caught the attention of the big heads in Denver, and John Elway made the decision to take Janovich in the sixth round. This decision was significant and would serve a harbinger of Denver's future. With the addition of a fullback with Janovich's versatility, the Broncos are poised to begin a transition into a true Kubiak offense in their post-Peyton Manning era.

Janovich’s true grit, paired with fellow Broncos rookie Paxton Lynch’s passing ability, could be the answers to the offensive struggles the Broncos have encountered in the past, especially in the screen game and utilizing the flat and underneath zones. Together, these rookies could help bring an unstoppable offense the Broncos have been pining to unshackle.

So despite the uncertainty of Miller’s contract clouding the Mile High City, remember—happiness is about what you have, not what you don’t. 

And count your blessings, Broncos Country, because right now you have Andy Janovich.

Jeannae Elyse Bierstedt is a Columnist for Mile High Huddle. You can find her on Twitter @JeannaeElyse.

Follow Mile High Huddle on Twitter @MileHighHuddle and on Facebook and become a subscriber to receive access to premium content and discounted Broncos tickets.

To get instant Broncos notifications, download the NEW Scout mobile app for iOS HERE! 

Be sure to check out the ever-growing benefit package of being a Mile High Huddle Insider! Check it out HERE.


Mile High Huddle Top Stories