Seventh round pick Ernster signs contract

The Denver Broncos seventh round pick, punter/kicker Paul Ernster, became the first of the 2005 draftees to sign a contract when he inked a deal on Thursday.

Ernster, 6-0, 217 pounds, was a first-team All-America punter for Northern Arizona University in 2004 and twice earned All-Big Sky Conference accolades at the Division I-AA school. He finished his four-year career with 221 points to rank third all-time in NAU history while recording a 47.5 gross average on 60 career punts, including 19 placed inside the 20-yard line.

In his first year as the Lumberjacks' full-time punter during the 2004 season, Ernster led Division I-AA with a 47.8 gross punting average and pinned 19 of his 55 punts inside the 20-yard line. Tabbed a first-team All-America punter by numerous organizations, including the Walter Camp Foundation, Ernster also converted 9-of-18 field-goal attempts (.500) during his senior season to earn first-team all-conference honors at both kicker and punter.

Ernster set a school single-season scoring record for kickers in 2003, compiling 101 points after converting 18-of-30 field-goal attempts (.600) and 47-of-49 extra-point attempts (.959). He was successful on 6-of-8 field-goal attempts (.750) between 40 and 49 yards that year and was named honorable mention All-Big Sky Conference.

An all-state kicker at Ironwood High School in Glendale, Ariz., Ernster also secured all-region honors as a punter and linebacker while lettering twice in baseball. Paul Ernster was born Jan. 26, 1982, in Phoenix.

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