UW Huskies name junior Indiana transfer Michael Penix Jr. starting quarterback – The Seattle Times

UW Huskies name junior Indiana transfer Michael Penix Jr.  starting quarterback - The Seattle Times

Michael Penix Jr. long is a home run.

The fifth-year-old’s father, Michael Penix Sr., told The Times last spring that “we used to see him hit baseballs deep, over the house, at the age of two. If you threw to him, he would hit it.”

When given the opportunity, Penix does not miss.

The 6-foot-3, 213-pound Indiana transfer was officially named Washington’s starting quarterback on Tuesday, beating out sophomore Dylan Morris and redshirt freshman Sam Huard. He won the job 10 days before UW opens its 2022 season by hosting Kent State inside Husky Stadium.

“I think Mike’s just been solid, consistent, every day,” coach Kalen DeBoer said Saturday, after UW’s second scrimmage of preseason camp. “He does a great job of picking up and seeing protections and getting us into the right plays. He also knows what the offense needs to look like. So that helps, too. He makes the plays when he needs to.

“Between him and Dylan, they can rip it from one side of the (field) to the other, so that stretches the defense a lot from sideline to sideline.”

DeBoer knows this better than most. The first-time UW head coach served as Penix’s offensive coordinator at Indiana in 2019, helping the Hoosiers match their highest scoring total (8) in 26 seasons while producing the Big Ten’s No. 3 overall offense. In a six-game stint, Penix completed 68.8% of his passes—a program record—with 1,394 passing yards, 10 touchdowns and just four interceptions.

“DeBoer knew how to run the game,” Penix Sr. said. last spring “He seemed like he knew exactly what to do in situations, and he could adapt. Because we both know that defenses change. They try to imitate what you are trying to do. It seemed like DeBoer had a little bit of a groove the whole time for defenses when they figured out what he was trying to do.”

Likewise, Penix Jr. said he ultimately chose Washington because “it felt like home. Obviously already knowing coach DeBoer, being with me at Indiana in 2019, I just felt like we had a good relationship. I love the offense that he brought there for us, and we kept running that offense. So I felt like it was something I wanted to be a part of.”

But how integral a role will Penix play? In 20 career games at Indiana, the two-time captain and 2020 All-Big Ten second-team selection completed 59.4% of his passes for 4,197 yards, with 35 total touchdowns and 15 interceptions.

But here comes the warning.

Each of Penix’s four collegiate campaigns ended with injuries — torn ACLs in 2018 and 2020, a sternoclavicular joint (connecting the collarbone to the sternum) injury in 2019, and an AC joint shoulder problem in 2021. He never played more than six games in season

That means while Washington’s quarterback competition is over, it isn’t it’s really over. Morris (who started 15 games over the past two seasons) and Huard (who made his first career start in the 2021 Apple Cup) must stay ready to help Washington win.

But Penix, for example, doesn’t care about being labeled “injury prone.”

“Obviously the main thing (offensive coordinator Ryan) Grubb tells us is to always make sure we hold our own, as far as protection checks. Always make sure we’re in the right protection, getting things,” Penix said this month. “But you will be beaten. You can’t be afraid of that in this game. It’s a contact sport. I don’t hesitate about that.

“I’ve been hit before. I’ve had a lot of success and I’m still going to show up and keep going.”

Four years, four injuries and one school later, Penix is ​​still stepping up to the plate.

“I love the guy. Oh my gosh,” UW associate head coach and passing game coordinator JaMarcus Shephard said with a laugh. “He’s just got some composure back there, and he’s throwing a really terrific ball.

“I like that he can throw it from a lot of different arm angles. I like that he doesn’t make a lot of excuses about whether the plays should have been made this way or that way. He does a great job of coming and talking to the guys instead of complaining about what’s going on. To me, those are the leadership qualities you want to see from your quarterback.”

Penix – who hails from Tampa, 3,100 miles southeast of Husky Stadium – settled in Seattle because “it felt like home.”

From both corners of the country, from one home to the other, he wasn’t done hitting homers.

“It’s been good,” Penix said of UW’s preseason camp. “I just focus on what I can control, just making sure I come here and be the best version of me every day. I’m that same guy every day for my teammates and come out here and be a leader and push the guys to be great. That’s what I’m doing here.”

This story will be updated.

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