‘Adversity teaches a man a lot about himself’: Washington’s Michael Penix Jr. pens letter to NFL GMs in Players Tribune

Michael Penix

Michael Penix Jr. is ready to lead an NFL franchise to its destination.

The 2024 NFL Draft will begin Thursday at 8 p.m., and the former Washington quarterback is among plenty of quarterback hopefuls who will hear their name called. Penix is coming off a season during which he finished second in the Heisman Trophy voting, led the Huskies to the Pac-12 Conference Championship after a perfect regular season and advanced all the way to the national championship in the program’s second College Football Playoff appearance.

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Penix wrote a letter to NFL general managers that published Monday in The Players’ Tribune. He addresses immediately the question about his four season-ending injuries in four seasons including two ACL tears, and later in the letter he states he’d “be more worried if I had never been injured.”

Penix emphasized an important lesson he’s learned in the pre-draft process in that “there’s more to it than the All-22” football film.

READ: Penix displays ‘the heart’ and ‘the guts’ during No. 7 Washington’s 36-33 win over No. 8 Oregon

The Dade City, Florida, native recalled playing tackle football on concrete in 95-degree heat growing up, stating, “You find out quick if you’re built for this game or not.”

Penix’s college career began at Indiana in 2018, somewhere he didn’t expect to go as he stated “Two weeks before signing day I was told by the team I was committed to for two years that I no longer had a scholarship.” After one torn ACL Penix helped the Hoosiers rise to No. 7 in the Associated Press Top-25 poll in 2020, though he retore his ACL in the second-to-last game of the regular season that year.

Penix shouted out in his letter former Indiana offensive coordinator Kalen DeBoer, who was his head coach at Washington and later took the Alabama opening after Nick Saban’s retirement. Penix credited DeBoer for seeing “something in me that the rest of the college football world didn’t,” and he stated they “left our imprint” on Washington.

“Today I look at Coach Kalen DeBoer, Ryan Grubb and Nick Sheridan,” Penix stated. “The ones that had to make the same decision that you’ll be faced with on draft day. They put their belief in me, and I did everything I could to pay it back to them. I look at the guys on the team that I talked into staying at Washington, who trusted that I was going to elevate them. Now seeing Troy Fautanu, Roger Rosengarten, Ja’Lynn Polk, Jack Westover, Rome Odunze, Devin Culp, Jalen McMillan, and Dillon Johnson all on the cusp of realizing their dream…. That is what brings me joy. As a QB, my job is to be an elevator. I need to uplift all those around me so that they too can be at their best. So just know if you put that same belief in me, history shows I hold up my end of the bargain.”

READ: Steve Sarkisian says Longhorns had to ‘recreate ourselves this spring’ after Orange-White Game

According to Daniel Jeremiah’s top 150 prospects in the 2024 NFL Draft class on NFL.com, Penix is ranked No. 35 among the class of players.

In 2023, Penix led college football with 4,903 passing yards, nearly 400 more than the next closest passer. He threw for a career-high 36 touchdowns and averaged almost 327 passing yards per game.

Penix collected the 2023 Maxwell Award and made many All-America second teams after last season. In his career, Penix passed for more than 13,500 yards and 95 touchdowns in over 45 games. He has three-plus seasons of starting experience under his belt.

In a quarterback class containing two Heisman winners and several conference champions, Penix will have competition for a top draft spot. But Penix’s story is unique, and he’s stood tall through it all.

One team will select Penix in the draft later this week, and the experienced, veteran quarterback will begin his professional career seeking to make a similar impact he’s made throughout his football career — beat adversity.