‘Unfinished business’: Michael Penix Jr. breaks down return to UW Huskies
After leading the UW Huskies to a 10-2 record by putting together one of the best seasons by a quarterback in program history, Michael Penix Jr. made a choice that surprised many.
Rather than declare for the NFL Draft and start his professional career, the nation’s leading passer decided he wanted to return to Washington for one more year, which he announced at the team’s end-of-year banquet and then to the public Sunday on social media.
“There’s been a lot going on, but being able to finalize my decision, it’s been great,” Penix told Seattle Sports 710 AM’s Brock and Salk Thursday morning.
So how did the lefty signal caller come to that decision?
“It was a lot of factors. I just felt like coming back was just my best option,” Penix said. “I felt like I had a shot going to the next level, but coming back, I felt like there was a lot of unfinished business. We had a lot of goals this season and I felt like we were so close to reaching them, and I know that just being able to come back and being able to be in the system for one more year and being able to develop more and try to get those goals that we had this season.”
Penix said he got “some pretty good information” about where he likely would have been drafted had he declared, and once he learned what he needed, there was no point in waiting longer in announcing he’d return to the UW Huskies.
“I was waiting for different teams to get done grading and stuff like that. But once I was able to get some pretty clear information, I was able to make that decision,” he said. “I didn’t feel like I needed to wait. I was just waiting for the right time and trusting my heart, and I felt like it was time for me to make that decision.”
Being back for one more season in the Huskies’ offensive system, where he thrived this year, could allow Penix to raise his draft stock.
“Just being being able to be in the system one more year and adding another year of production, it will definitely help,” he said.
So Penix is back for not just one more year but also the Alamo Bowl at the end of the month against Texas. Since he’s returning, will Penix be recruiting on behalf of the UW Huskies?
“Yeah, for sure. That’s definitely a big piece,” he said. “Plus with the transfer portal and people being able to choose different destinations for them and what they feel is best for their future. I feel like I will definitely be on a recruiting end in trying to help this team build and continue to grow. That’s definitely what I’ll be doing.”
Heading into next season, Penix will likely be seen as a Heisman Trophy front-runner given the gaudy numbers he posted in 2022. How will Penix deal with the offseason hype?
“‘I just feel like for myself just at the level I’m at, just being able to understand everything that comes with the game and just obviously being in the position that I’m in, just being blessed to be in those talks about the Heisman and all those types of things,” he said. “I’m just blessed to be in this position. But it’s just football for me. I’m just focused on what I can do to help my team be better. Once you do that and once you start helping your team win games and leading them the right way, good things start to come.”
Penix posted a 4,000-yard season this year, completing more than two-thirds of his passes while being barely sacked or hit, and his arrival along with new head coach Kalen DeBoer (his former offensive coordinator at Indiana in 2019) helped the UW Huskies bounce back in a big way from a disappointing 4-8 season in 2021. What’s the biggest step for next year?
“For myself, I just feel like consistency. Another year of great production and being able to win football games with the guys,” he said. “I feel like that’ll definitely be a big thing. That’s something that I look forward to and got to make sure we put in the work. I know it’s not gonna come to me easy just because it happened this past year. I know I have to continue to work for it and the team will have to work to be able to get in that position again. So there will definitely be a lot of work put in there.”
You can listen to the full conversation with Penix in the podcast at this link or in the player below.