Michael Penix Jr. originally committed to Tennessee, but then the SEC team fired its coach and left with Butch Jones dismissing the Volunteers’ need for a spread-offense quarterback.
Penix regrouped and narrowed his choices to Florida State, South Florida and Indiana, with the Hoosiers running a full-court press after a young college quarterback caught up with them. The Big Ten program sent five different coaches to the Penix family in Tampa, Florida, and this show of strength won it over.
The dual-threat Penix also held offers from Oregon and Arizona out of the Pac-12, not knowing he would eventually end up in the conference to finalize his college eligibility.
He spent four seasons in Indiana, thrilling the Hoosier faithful with his towering heroics and depressing those same fans when he was repeatedly injured and unable to finish any of those seasons.
After he entered the transfer portal last winter, the Indianapolis Star praised Penix’s departure this way: “In his hands, Indiana’s offense was among the most explosive and dangerous in the Big Ten.”
The 6-foot-3, 213-pound Penix is in Seattle now, preparing to lead a University of Washington comeback from a 4-8 season after winning a three-man competition with returners Dylan Morris and Sam Huard to become holder.
He looks healthy and confident, eager to duplicate the 2019 success he enjoyed while answering to then-Indiana offensive coordinator Kalen DeBoer, now his Husky head coach.
Penix has 20 games in his college football record, including 17 starts, 12 of which were wins. Among the teams he beat were Michigan, Michigan State and Penn State. He was named to the All-Big Ten second team in 2020.
He put up prolific numbers for the Hoosiers, finishing 342-for-576 (59 percent) passing for 4,197 yards and 29 touchdowns, with 15 interceptions. He ran for 6 scores and 165 yards on 64 carries.
Below 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 10:55 of the third quarter at Miami, 280 miles south of his hometown of Tampa. He led the Hoosiers on an eight-play, 72-yard drive on his first drive, capping it off with a 9-yard touchdown pass. His stat line: 8-for-10 passing for 96 yards and a TD.
Game 3: Indiana 38, Ball State 10 — Penix came off the bench for 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 have their young phenom split time with starter Peyton Ramsey. That idea lasted until Penix injured his knee at 7:12 of the third quarter after 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 beat out two veteran quarterbacks in transfer Peyton Ramsey and Utah tight end Jack Tuttle. Penix completed 24 of 40 passes for 326 yards and a career-high 75 yards. “His ball development is elite,” Indiana coach Tom Allen said of Penix. “He has 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 bolstered the offense. “I like the way Kalen is able to keep defenses off balance,” Allen said of his offensive mastermind.
Game 5: Michigan State 40, Indiana 31 — Penix played two games with a shoulder strain suffered against Eastern Illinois, did not 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 straight touchdown passes, two shy of the Big Ten record — and ran seven times for 67 yards and a score. The Hoosiers, however, could not hold on to 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 make them play in space. Michael did a great job executing that.”
Game 6: Indiana 35, Rutgers 0 — Penix helped put the Hoosiers up 21-0 in the first six minutes of play 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, Penix had to go into concussion protocol with the score tied at 14 on the road. He was good while it lasted, moving the Hoosiers 69 yards in five plays for a score on the opening drive and 75 yards in eight plays for a second TD. 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 run, then suffered a shoulder injury before halftime that sidelined him for the rest of the season. His passing streak: 10 of 15 for 162 yards.
Game 1: Indiana 36, Penn State 35 (OT) — The Hoosiers played in front of a national television audience, but an empty stadium due to the pandemic, and Penix was at his best in the end. Trailing 28-20, Penix scored on a 1-yard run with 22 seconds left in regulation and was killed for the game-tying two-point conversion. He followed that up with a 9-yard TD pass in OT and another two-score run that found the post and the win beating 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 linebacker Stevie 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 as his teammates threw six balls. Everyone figured it out later, with the lefty completing 14 of his final 16 throws, good for a 17-for-26, 238-yard, 3-TD performance on the road.
Game 3: Indiana 38, Michigan 21 — The 23rd-ranked Wolverines struggled to beat Penix, and he shredded their man-to-man coverage, completing 30 of 50 passes for 342 yards and 3 scores. He had 254 yards in the first half alone, giving the already 13th-ranked Hoosiers a 24-7 halftime lead 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. He’s got something special about him.”
Game 4: Indiana 24, Michigan State 0 — Penix had his second straight 300-plus effort as the now 10th-ranked Hoosiers scored all of their points in the first half and pulled off a big win in East Lansing. He finished with 25 completions on 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 short. They trailed 35-7 until Penix single-handedly tried to put this one away, but was unable to convert two late chances in overtime. He completed 27 of 51 passes for a career-high 491 yards and 5 touchdowns. He hit shots of 68, 63, 56, 51 and 33 meters. “We’re a big team,” Penix said as Indiana fell to 4-1. “The boys fought. We fought the whole 60 minutes.”
Game 6: Indiana 27, Maryland 11 — Penix ran for 21 yards and a first down, being pushed out of bounds at the Terrapin 10 and forced down. He injured his knee and was done for the season. His passing streak: 6 completions on 19 attempts for 84 yards.
Game 1: Iowa 34, Indiana 6 – In front of a crowd of 68,166 in Iowa City, Penix was not sharp from 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 bounced back with an easy win over visiting Northwest 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 – In front of a sellout crowd of 52,656 in Bloomington, the Hoosiers went on a 14-0 run and led 24-23 in the fourth quarter, but couldn’t hold off the nation’s No. 8 ranked team and final CFP qualifier . Penix hit on 17 of 40 passes for 224 yards and 2 scores, but he served up three interceptions, including one in the Bearcats’ end zone.
Game 4: Indiana 33, Western Kentucky 31 – With people constantly saying Penix didn’t look good coming back from his knee injury, the left-hander responded with a 35-for-53, 373-yard outing, with no passes or interceptions. He scored on a 1-yard run in the first quarter. He kept the Hoosiers on top from start to finish in Bowling Green, Kentucky.
Game 5: Penn State 24, Indiana 0 — On October 2, 2021, Penix’s Hoosiers career unceremoniously came to an undignified end when he was sacked in the third quarter and suffered another season-ending shoulder injury. He performed before a crowd of 105,951 at Pennsylvania State College. His final stat line at Indiana: 10 completions on 22 attempts for 118 yards.
Three months later Penix headed to Seattle to reunite with DeBoer and another of his Indiana offensive coordinators in Nick Sheridan, who was hired as UW’s tight ends coach. Offensive fireworks are planned for Montlake.
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