By MATT SCHUMAN
GREELEY -- Former University of Northern Colorado quarterback Dominic Breazeale never dreamed when he was throwing passes at Nottingham Field that he'd someday be going for gold in the 2012 London Olympic Games.
However, that's exactly where he's headed - as a boxer.
Breazeale, who played football for UNC from 2006-07, qualified for a spot as a super-heavyweight on the U.S. National Boxing Team with his runner-up finish at the Americas Qualifier tournament in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil this May.
It comes only four short years after leaving UNC with his bachelor's degree to become a member of the All-American Heavyweights, a boxing program out of The Rock gym in Carson, Calif.
The program is run by Michael King, who's best known as the president and CEO of King World Productions, which syndicated such television hits as the "The Oprah Winfrey Show."
Breazeale got the call from a recruiter with the boxing program, which was trying to create the next generation of great heavyweight champions, while he was still at UNC. He said no at first because he wanted to pursue a career in the NFL, but when he realized that was not going to be a possibility he took up the offer to box.
Still, his football career at UNC served him well and helped him transition into the sport of boxing.
"The mental aspects of playing are similar in the sport of boxing," Breazeale said. "To know what my opponent is going to throw before he threw it just kind of helps out. It is kind of like playing chess. I know my opponents move before he makes it. It is definitely beneficial in the ring."
At 6-foot-6 and 225 pounds, his trainer, Manny Robles. called him "the perfect poster boy" as a super-heavyweight because of his size, strength and athletic ability. However, Breazeale still had a lot to learn as he made the transition from football to boxing. He started from scratch, learning everything from conditioning for a fight to how to hit the speed bag.
"I have never had to run any kind of long-distance in my life before," Breazeale said. "Back in football I never had to do three miles to five miles in a morning run, so that was something that was brand-new."
Robles saw how much potential Breazeale had from the start. Still, Robles admitted that it's rare to see someone like Breazeale who's never boxed before have so much success in such a short time.
"He is not like the majority of boxers who started out when they're young or for that matter in any other sport whether it be football, baseball, basketball or boxing," Robles said. "Typically you start out when you're in your early teens and whatnot. This kid is just one of these boys that is really strong and has unlimited potential and the rest is history."
Breazeale hopes that potential will help him bring home the gold from London. If it does, he knows his time at UNC helped pave the way.
"Football builds great character in guys and you are always instilled with the edge to never give up and never quit," Breazeale said. "So that is definitely something I can take from football that can serve me in the ring."
Read more about Dominic Breazeale's quest for gold at the 2012 Olympic Games in Northern Vision, UNC's magazine for alumni and friends of the university, due out this fall.