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Michael Penix Jr. runs, jumps and throws showing off athleticism at Huskies’ pro day

UW quarterback projected as first- or second-round NFL pick

By CAMERON VAN TIL, Associated Press
Published: March 28, 2024, 5:35pm

SEATTLE — Michael Penix Jr. used his pro day to demonstrate the athleticism that wasn’t always on display during his two seasons carving up opposing defenses at Washington.

The left-handed quarterback and Heisman Trophy runner-up tried to quell any concerns about his athletic ability in front of a bevy of NFL scouts on Thursday.

“I just wanted to show that I’m athletic and I can do it with my legs if I have to,” Penix said.

Penix ran the 40-yard dash after opting not to at the NFL combine, with scouts timing him in 4.51 and 4.57 seconds. He also posted an impressive vertical jump of 36 1/2 inches.

During a throwing session at the end of the event, Penix zipped tight spirals and threw his noted deep ball all over the field in front of representatives from at least 30 NFL teams. Among those in attendance were New York Giants coach Brian Daboll, Giants general manager Joe Schoen and Seattle Seahawks general manager John Schneider.

Penix said he has upcoming visits scheduled with Atlanta, Denver, Las Vegas, Pittsburgh and the Giants.

“I’m just ready to see where I’m going so I can help a team win football games,” Penix said. “It’s a blessing. I’m enjoying each and every step.”

Penix is projected to be picked somewhere in the first two rounds of April’s NFL draft, but there are a wide range of opinions on where exactly he’ll land.

Penix led the nation in passing each of the past two seasons, going 25-3 as a starter in Washington’s high-flying attack. He threw for 4,903 yards, 36 touchdowns and 11 interceptions last season while leading the Huskies to the national championship game.

But his age and injury history have been question marks for some.

Penix, who turns 24 in May, had four season-ending injuries at Indiana before transferring to Washington. He twice tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee and suffered injuries to both shoulders.

Penix’s medical exams from the combine reportedly came back clean. He didn’t miss a practice, workout or game in his two seasons with the Huskies.

“I want to write my own narrative,” Penix said. “So I’m not chasing for somebody else’s respect. I feel like the real ones know. The ones that really watch and know football, they know what I can do on the football field. I just want to write my own narrative.”

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Ja’Lynn Polk and Jalen McMillan, who both are projected early-round draft picks, were among the receivers Penix threw to on Thursday.

But Penix’s top target at Washington spent the morning as a spectator.

Wide receiver Rome Odunze, a projected top-10 pick, didn’t participate in any drills. He believes he showed enough with his production at Washington and his combine performance.

Odunze had a school-record 1,640 yards receiving and 13 TDs, including numerous big catches in key moments. At the combine, he ran the 40-yard dash in 4.45 seconds and posted a 39-inch vertical jump.

Odunze said he met with the Giants after the combine. He also has upcoming meetings with Arizona Cardinals, Chicago and the New York Jets.

“I feel like I put everything on tape — from the film to the meeting rooms to my combine performance,” Odunze said. “They’ve already seen what I bring to the table. So for me, today was just about supporting these guys.”

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