Michael Penix Jr. looking to prove surgically repaired knee will not 'hold me back' in NFL
Michael Penix Jr. enters the 2024 NFL Draft as one of the most accomplished passers in college football the past two seasons. However, his draft stock arguably does not match his elite numbers.
At least one aspect of Penix’s draft stock undoubtedly centers around his surgically repaired knee. That right knee sustained two ACL tears — in 2018 and 2020 — but he remained healthy throughout his two seasons at Washington.
This week, Penix is at the Senior Bowl, and part of his goals include proving to teams that “there’s nothing to hold me back.” The star quarterback also says noted orthopedic surgeon Dr. Neal S. ElAttrache has given him a “thumbs up” moving forward.
“Some of that stuff I can’t control,” Penix admitted per ESPN’s Pete Thamel and Jeff Legwold. “I can tell them how I feel, I can show them how I feel, that’s all I can do at that point. I’ve got plenty of scans to show them, the doctor says I’m clear, nothing’s wrong, I don’t see why they would think I’m hurt, really. I can just show them what I can do.”
Some of the skepticism surrounding Penix is undeniably frustrating. After all, he led the Huskies to a 25-3 overall record across the 2022-23 seasons.
That stretch included a pair of bowl wins, a Pac-12 title, a trip to the College Football Playoff, and a memorable CFP win over Texas. Penix also delivered some of his best moments in big games.
Facing Oregon on the road in 2022, he delivered 408 passing yards and a pair of touchdowns in a thrilling victory. This season, he delivered 4 touchdowns and a game-winning score against the Ducks and went on to throw for 430 yards and 2 touchdowns while completing 76% of his passes against the Longhorns.
Still, Penix understands his process has to be about simply being himself while showing his desire to do what it takes to be great:
“I can’t control other people’s perspectives or how they view me as a quarterback,” he said. “For me, I just got to continue to be myself and continue to work hard each and every day to show them that I’m willing to do whatever it takes to be great, and I belong anywhere that I end up.”
ESPN’s Mel Kiper Jr. included 4 quarterbacks as first-round picks in his initial mock for the 2024 Draft, but Penix was not among them. We’ll see if that changes as we move through the pre-draft process.