#PackPros: Three sign contracts; Jensen becomes highest paid center in NFL

#PackPros: Three sign contracts; Jensen becomes highest paid center in NFL

JENSEN PRESS CONFERENCE
NY JETS RE-SIGN PENNEL
BC LIONS RELEASE ON DUNCAN

PUEBLO, Colo. (March 21, 2018) - When former Colorado State University-Pueblo football All-American Ryan Jensen became a member of the Pack in 2009 he was on a scholarship in the range of $3,000. Monday, Jensen became the highest paid center in the National Football League when he inked a four-year, $42 million deal with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Jensen's contract includes $22 million guaranteed according to NFL.com. The Fort Morgan, Colorado product enters his sixth season in the NFL after five with the Baltimore Ravens. Last season, Jensen was the starting center in all 16 games with the Ravens. He was regarded as one of the Biggest Overachievers of 2017 by Bleacher Report and was ranked as the ninth best center in 2017 by Pro Football Focus.

Jensen was drafted by the Baltimore Ravens in 2013 and spent that season on the practice squad. He got his first taste of NFL action in 2014 and had totaled 19 games with nine starts on the offensive line before his breakout season in 2017. 

Jensen arrived to the ThunderWolves in 2009 as a 6-foot-3, 225-pound tackle and started as a true freshman. He started all four years at tackle, earned All-American honors in 2011 and 2012 and was a finalist for the Gene Upshaw Award, given to the top Division II lineman.

PENNEL RE-SIGNS WITH THE JETS

Claimed off of waivers from Green Bay Feb. 7, 2017, Mike Pennel appeared in 16 games last season for the New York Jets and made three starts. He became a key rotational player, registering a career-high 35 tackles. His first season with New York was his fourth overall in the NFL after spending three seasons with Green Bay where he played in 37 games (five starts) and totaled 40 tackles and one sack.

In one season with the Pack, Pennel earned All-RMAC First Team honors after collecting 36 tackles and three sacks in 2013. He also had six tackles for loss and forced three fumbles. Pennel had played at Arizona State and Scottsdale Community College after his prep career at Grandview High School in Aurora, Colorado.

DUNCAN SIGNS WITH CFL'S BC LIONS

Two years removed from All-American honors as a member of the ThunderWolves wide receiver Kieren Duncan was signed by the Canadian Football League's BC Lions Feb. 22.

Following his collegiate career, Duncan earned a Rookie Mini-Camp invite with the Chicago Bears in 2016, which he parlayed into a undrafted free agent contract on the team's 90-man roster. He played in three preseason games before being released. Duncan returned two kickoffs for 45 yards (long of 25 yards) and a punt for six yards. He was targeted twice as a receiver. In September of 2016, Duncan was signed to the practice squad of the CFL's Winnepeg Blue Bombers before being released. 

Duncan was an All-American in his final season with the ThunderWolves in 2015 and was named All-RMAC First Team at wide receiver and for his returning skills. In four seasons with the Pack (2012-15), Duncan totaled 1,914 receiving yards on 112 receptions (17.1 ypc) and 14 touchdowns. He added 1,080 career kick return yards on 39 returns (27.7 ypr) with a 98-yard touchdown. In four seasons he racked-up 3,653 all-purpose yards in 46 games with 17 touchdowns.

PACK IN THE NFL

The ThunderWolves have three former players in the NFL, as Morgan Fox (2012-15) completed his second season on the defensive line for the Los Angeles Rams. Fox played in all 16 games and started one contest in his first full season with the Rams. The former All-American defensive end totaled 19 tackles (14 solo), 2.5 sacks, a forced fumble and one fumble recovery.

THE THUNDERWOLVES IN 2017

The Pack finished the season with a 9-3 overall record, while their 9-1 Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference mark was good for a share of the league title. CSU-Pueblo advanced to the NCAA Division II playoffs as a seven seed. The ThunderWolves fell 16-13 in overtime to No. 1 overall and No. 2 seed Minnesota State University, Mankato. The Pack were No. 20 nationally following the end of the regular season and moved up to No. 17 in the final poll.

The defense closed the regular season top 20 nationally in eight categories, red zone defense (3rd, 57.7%), interceptions (4th, 21), team passing efficiency defense (4th, 88.95), defensive touchdowns (7th, 5), scoring defense (10th, 14.3), total defense (10th, 273.5), turnovers gained (11th, 27) and passing yards allowed (18th, 164.6).

The Pack also finished the regular season top 25 in Division II in turnover margin (17th, 1,0), net punting (20th, 36.8), kick returns (23rd, 23.0), red zone offense (23rd, 88%) and scoring offense (24th, 37.6).

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As a member of the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference, Colorado State University – Pueblo competes in 22 varsity sports in NCAA Division II intercollegiate athletics.