PUEBLO, Colo. (January 12, 2016) – The dream of playing professional football continues for some former Colorado State University-Pueblo football athletes, as C.J. Roberts (2010-14) was signed to the National Football League's Tampa Bay Buccaneers Dec. 30, Paul Browning (2010-14) inked a deal with the Orlando Predators of the Arena Football League in November and following a stint on the practice squad, Chase Vaughn (2008-09) signed with the Canadian Football League's Winnipeg Blue Bombers in December.
In addition to the new opportunities, the two former ThunderWolves that are in the National Football League made the best of their opportunities this season.
Here is an update on the happenings of CSU-Pueblo football alum at the professional level.
Mike Pennel (2013) – Green Bay Packers – Defensive Line
In his second season with the Packers, Pennel totaled 25 (16 solo) tackles during the regular season, as he played in all 16 games with five starts. His first career start came at Chicago in week one, Sept. 13. He also added a sack and forced a fumble this season. Pennel played in Green Bay's Wild Card win Sunday and has appeared in three total postseason contests for the green and gold.
Pennel signed with Green Bay as a non-drafted free agent May 12, 2014. He earned a spot on the 53-man roster following training camp and played in 13 regular season games and two playoff games for the Packers as a rookie in 2014.
Ryan Jensen (2009-12) – Baltimore Ravens – Offensive Line
Jensen completed his first full season with the Ravens playing in 11 games, six of which he started on the offensive line. He started six of the last seven games for a Baltimore team that went 5-11 in 2015.
Jensen was drafted in the 6th round of the 2013 NFL Draft by Baltimore. In 2014 he was promoted from the practice squad to the active roster of the Ravens Dec. 16. The center played in one regular season game and one playoff game in 2014 after being listed on the game-day inactive (foot) list for all 16 games as a rookie in 2013. He was re-signed April 14, 2015.
C.J. Roberts (2010-14) – Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Cornerback
Roberts signed an undrafted free agent contract with the NFL's Arizona Cardinals in May and after making the cut to the 75-man roster at training camp, he was released when the team went to 53 players. He was added to the CFL's Winnipeg Blue Bombers practice squad in early October and Dec. 30 earned another opportunity in the NFL, as he signed on to the practice squad with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He is now listed on the team's active roster for the offseason.
Chase Vaughn (2008-09) – Winnipeg Blue Bombers – Linebacker
Vaughn earned an opportunity on the practice squad of the Winnipeg Blue Bombers of the CFL this fall and after four weeks was promoted to the active roster. He played in the final game of the season and recorded one tackle. The Blue Bombers have picked up his option for next year.
Vaughn signed a future contract with the Broncos, Dec. 29, 2014 and remained with the team until Aug. 31 when he was waived. In three preseason games, the former Pack All-American totaled two tackles. Vaughn signed with the NFL organization the first time in May 2014 after a successful 3-day rookie mini-camp, earning a spot on the 90-man off-season roster. He was cut from the Broncos in August (2014) after an injury-riddled training camp.
Paul Browning (2010-14) – Orlando Predators – Wide Receiver
After two stints with NFL teams last summer, Browning has found a home in the Arena Football League with the Orlando Predators. He inked the deal Nov. 6 and the Predators begin the 2016 season April 1 against the Tampa Bay Storm.
Browning was invited to a rookie mini-camp tryout with the NFL's Cleveland Browns and earned a free agent contract with the team May 11. Browning was then released by the team June 19. A couple days into Carolina Panthers training camp, Browning got a call and joined the team Aug. 2. He played in three preseason games and brought in the game-winning two-point conversion reception in week one. He was waived by the team in the first round of cuts, Aug. 31.
Josh Bredl (2009-14) – WWE – Bronson Mathews
After winning World Wrestling Entertainment Tough Enough, Bredl (earned the ring name Bronson Mathews) is training in Orlando at the WWE Performance Center. Bredl appeared on multiple episodes of the 10-episode show Breaking Ground, which aired only on WWE Network and revolves around NXT Superstars (development branch of WWE), former Tough Enough contestants and other hopefuls.
Starting with seven male competitors on Tough Enough, Bredl lasted on the show the entire 10 weeks and in the end was voted the winner in a worldwide fan vote. In the process, he earned a one-year, $250,000 WWE contract.
THUNDERWOLVES IN 2015
The ThunderWolves went 12-2 overall for their third 12-plus win season in the last four years. The Pack went a perfect 9-0 for the fourth time in the last five years to earn their fifth consecutive RMAC Championship.
CSU-Pueblo earned the No. 4 seed in the NCAA Playoffs and made its fifth straight appearance in the Division II postseason Nov. 21. The ThunderWolves hosted No. 5-seed University of Indianapolis in the first round and won 27-14, then took to the road for their first-ever true road game in the playoffs. The Pack traveled to No. 1-seed Midwestern State University and downed the Mustangs 26-17 to earn a spot in the quarterfinals for the third time in the last four years. CSU-Pueblo suffered a 31-7 loss to No. 6-seed Grand Valley State University in the game at the Neta and Eddie DeRose ThunderBowl, to close the season and end the defense of the 2014 NCAA Division II National Championship.
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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.