It's a long way from Palisade High School to the NFL, but not for Ben Steele.  He's been there twice.

Ben's path to the NFL took him from playing football and basketball in Palisade to Fort Lewis College, Mesa State College, and finally the NFL. Steele never became a star tight end in the NFL, but he's definitely had a successful career so far doing what he loves to do.

While at Mesa State in 1999 and 2000, Steele was all-conference his junior and senior year for the Mavericks and played in the Division II All-star game.

After graduating from Mesa State, Steele was signed to the San Francisco 49ers practice squad. From there, he moved across the bay to become a member of the practice squad for the Oakland Raiders team that would go on to play Tampa Bay in  Super Bowl XXXVII. Also in 2002, Ben played for the Frankfurt Galaxy of the World Football League, catching 11 passes for 110 yards and 1 touchdown.

It was about this time that Steele returned to Grand Junction to work as a weekend sports anchor at KKCO during the 2002 and 2003 offseasons.

Steele was with the Minnesota Vikings in 2003 and then spent two years with the Green Bay Packers, appearing in 17 games with 4 catches for 42  yards.  Steele has the distinction of being on the receiving end of Aaron Rodgers' first NFL touchdown pass in the final preseason game of the 2005 season. He then finished his NFL playing career with the Houston Texans.

After wrapping up his playing career in the NFL, Steele attended the Harvard Business School and received masters credits before returning to Grand Junction to serve as an offensive assistant coach for the Mesa State Mavericks. From there, Steele advanced to Division I to serve as an assistant coach for the CU Buffs and UC-Davis.

For the past two seasons, Steele has been the tight ends coach for the Tampa Buccaneers and recently was hired as an offensive assistant for the Atlanta Falcons. Steele gives the Falcons a second western Colorado connection. Central High product Ben Garland plays for the Falcons and will be entering his 6th year in the NFL.

It's extremely interesting to follow the career of a guy with Grand Valley roots, and we'll be watching closely to see what comes next for the former Bulldog, Ben Steele.

[CU BUFFS]