Michael Penix Jr. first committed to Tennessee, but then the SEC team fired its coach and the Volunteers’ need for a spread offense quarterback was met with the dismissed Butch Jones.
The Pennixes regrouped and narrowed their choices to Florida State, South Florida and Indiana, with the Hoosiers putting on a full-court press after the junior-college quarterback fell for them. The Big Ten program sent five different coaches to the Penix home in Tampa, Florida, and this show of strength won him over.
The dual-threat Penix also held offers from Oregon and Arizona from the Pac-12, not knowing if he would ultimately end up in the conference to finish his college eligibility.
He stayed in Indiana for four seasons, thrilling the Hoosier faithful with his over-the-top heroics and disappointing those same followers when he was constantly injured and unable to finish any of those seasons.
After he entered the transfer portal last winter, the Indianapolis Star newspaper praised Penix’s departure: “In his hands, Indiana’s offense was the most explosive and dangerous in the Big Ten.”
The 6-foot-3, 213-pound Penix is now in Seattle, preparing to lead the University of Washington’s rebound from a 4-8 season to win a three-player competition with Dylan Morris and Sam Howard to become the starter.
He looks healthy and confident, eager to replicate the 2019 success he enjoyed while answering to then-Indiana offensive coordinator Kalen DeBoer, now his Huskies head coach.
Pennix has 20 games on his college football ledger, including 17 starts, 12 of which were wins. Among the teams he lost to were Michigan, Michigan State and Penn State. He was named second-team All-Big Ten in 2020.
He put up very impressive numbers for the Hoosiers, completing passing totals of 342-for-576 (59 percent) for 4,197 yards and 29 touchdowns, along with 15 interceptions. He rushed for 6 scores and 165 yards on 64 carries.
Following is a replay of every game he played for Indiana:
Game 1: Indiana 38, Florida International 28 — As a true freshman, Penix made his college debut at the 10:55 mark of the third quarter in Miami, 280 miles south of his hometown of Tampa. He led the Hoosiers on an 8-play, 72-yard scoring drive on their first series, capping it off with a 9-yard touchdown pass. His stat line: 8-for-10 passing for 96 yards and one TD.
Game 3: Indiana 38, Ball State 10 — Penix came off the bench for some mop-up duty and completed 4 of 5 passes for 29 yards in his first appearance in Bloomington.
Game 8: Penn State 45, Indiana 14 — After not using him for four games, the Hoosiers decided to split their young phenom with starter Peyton Ramsey. Pennix went on to hurt his knee at the 7:12 mark of the third quarter when Penn State linebacker Garrett Allen hit him, was called for targeting and drew an ejection. Penix was done for the season. His stat line that day: 9-for-19 passing for 94 yards.
Game 1: Indiana 34, Ball State 24 — With a new offensive coordinator in Kalen DeBoer, the Penix lose two veteran quarterbacks in starter Peyton Ramsey and Utah transfer Jack Tuttle. Penix completed 24 of 40 passes for 326 yards and a touchdown pass that went for a career-long 75 yards. “His zip on the ball is elite,” Indiana coach Tom Allen said of Penix. “He’s got some real talent.”
Game 2: Indiana 52, Eastern Illinois 0 – Penix played less than two quarters and was 14 of 20 passing for 197 yards and a pair of scores as DeBoer cranked up the offense. “I like the way Kalen can balance defenses,” Allen said of his offensive mastermind.
Game 5: Michigan State 40, Indiana 31 – Penix sat out two games against Eastern Illinois with a shoulder strain, didn’t practice during the week and was sensational in East Lansing, Michigan. He connected on 33 of 42 passes for 286 yards and 3 TDs – completing 20 consecutive passes at one point, two shy of the Big Ten record – and rushed seven times for 67 yards and a score. The Hoosiers couldn’t hold a three-point lead in the fourth quarter. “We had a great game plan,” Allen said. “Coach DeBoer wanted to spread the ball around and let them play in space. Michael did a great job of executing that.”
Game 6: Indiana 35, Rutgers 0 – Penix led the Hoosiers 21-0 in the first 6-plus minutes of the game in Bloomington. He was again very accurate, hitting 20 of 29 passes for 282 yards and 3 more scores.
Game 7: Indiana 34, Maryland 28 — Early in the second quarter, the Penix had to go into concussion protocol after leaving the road tied at 14. He was good while it lasted, moving the Hoosiers 69 yards on five plays for a score and 75 yards on eight plays for a second TD on the opening drive. His passing stat line: 9-for-14 for 141 yards and a score.
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Game 8: Indiana 34, Northwestern 3 – Penix returned to the starting lineup at home, put the Hoosiers up 17-3 with a 1-yard touchdown run and then suffered a shoulder injury before halftime that sidelined him for the rest of the season. His passing stat line: 10-of-15 for 162 yards.
Game 1: Indiana 36, Penn State 35 (OT) – The Hoosiers played in front of a national TV audience but an empty stadium due to the pandemic and Penix was finally at his best. Trailing 28-20, Penix scored on a 1-yard run with 22 seconds left in regulation and scampered for the two-point conversion. He followed that up with a 9-yard TD pass in OT and another two-point run where he reached the pylon and sealed the win over the eighth-ranked Nittany Lions for just the second time in 24 tries. “Big-time players make big plays — that’s what he did,” Indiana tailback Steve Scott III said. “He put the team on his back.” Penix passing line: 19-for-36 for 170 yards and a TD.
Game 2: Indiana 37, Rutgers 21 – Penix started 3-for-10 passing while his teammates gave up six balls. It all came together after the lefty completed 14 of his last 16 throws, good for 17-for-26, 238-yards and 3-TD outings on the road.
Game 3: Indiana 38, Michigan 21 — The 23rd-ranked Wolverines tried to blitz Penix and he shredded their man-to-man coverage, completing 30 of 50 passes for 342 yards and 3 scores. He had 254 yards alone in the first half, leading the now 13th-ranked Hoosiers to a 24-7 lead at the break in Bloomington. “This kid has some things that most guys don’t have — quick release, accuracy, arm strength,” Allen said. “He’s a great player. I believed in this kid. There’s something special about him.”
Game 4: Indiana 24, Michigan State 0 – Penix had 300-plus passing attempts for the second straight time as the now 10th-ranked Hoosiers scored all of their points in the first half and pulled out a big win at East Lansing. He completed 25 of 38 attempts for 320 yards and a pair of scores.
Game 5: Ohio State 42, Indiana 35 – The nation’s ninth- and third-ranked teams met in Columbus and the Hoosiers came up just a touchdown short. They trailed 35-7 until Penix tried to pull it out on his own, but couldn’t convert on two late chances in overtime. He completed 27 of 51 passes for a career-best 491 yards and 5 touchdowns. He hit throws of 68, 63, 56, 51 and 33 yards. “We’re a great team,” Penix said of Indiana’s 4-1 win. “The guys fought. We fought the whole 60 minutes.”
Game 6: Indiana 27, Maryland 11 – Penix ran for 21 yards and a first down, pushed out of bounds at the Terrapin 10 and landed hard. He injured his knee and was done for the season. His passing stat line: 6 completions on 19 attempts for 84 yards.
Game 1: Iowa 34, Indiana 6 – Before a crowd of 68,166 in Iowa City, Penix was unable to overcome his knee injury for the 17th-ranked Hoosiers. He completed 14 of 29 passes for 156 yards but threw a pair of pick-sixes among three interceptions.
Game 2: Indiana 56, Idaho 14 – The Hoosiers and Penix had easy wins over the visiting Northwest team in Bloomington. The QB completed 11 of 16 passes for 68 yards and 2 scores, and he ran for a touchdown.
Game 3: Cincinnati 38, Indiana 24 — Before a sellout crowd of 52,656 in Bloomington, the Hoosiers went on a 14-0 run to take a 24-23 lead into the fourth quarter but couldn’t hold off the nation’s No. 8 team and eventual CFP qualifier. Penix hit 17 of 40 passes for 224 yards and 2 scores, but he threw three interceptions, including one in the Bearcats’ end zone.
Game 4: Indiana 33, Western Kentucky 31 – With people constantly saying Penix didn’t look right coming back from his knee injury, the left-hander responded with a 35-for-53, 373-yard passing outing with no touchdown passes or interceptions. He scored on a 1-yard run in the first quarter. He led the Hoosiers from start to finish in Bowling Green, Kentucky.
Game 5: Penn State 24, Indiana 0 — On October 2, 2021, Penix’s Hoosiers career came to an unceremonious end when he was sacked in the third quarter and suffered another season-ending shoulder injury. He performed before a crowd of 105,951 in State College, Pennsylvania. His final Indiana State line: 10 completions on 22 attempts for 118 yards.
Three months later Penix went to Seattle to rejoin DeBoer and his other Indiana offensive coordinator, Nick Sheridan, who had been hired as the UW tight-ends coach. An offensive fireworks display is predicted for Montlake.
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