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FOX Sports’ Klatt: Penix is top-5 pick, ‘better version’ of Pro Bowl QB

Jan 4, 2024, 11:13 AM

UW Huskies Michael Penix Jr College Football Playoff...

Michael Penix Jr. of the UW Huskies celebrates after a win over Texas on Jan. 1, 2024. (Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

(Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

The UW Huskies have won 14 games with a chance for one more in Monday’s College Football Playoff National Championship against Michigan, and the left arm of star quarterback Michael Penix Jr. is a big reason why.

Huard: 2 stats that jump out for UW Huskies against Michigan

Penix led the Huskies to an 11-2 record last season while leading the nation in passing yards, and he’s followed that up with an even better season, guiding Washington to a 14-0 record and national championship appearance while leading the country in passing yards and finishing second in Heisman voting.

Penix has one game to go in his college career, and he could cap it off with a bang if the Dawgs win the title. Then, he will go to the NFL.

No one is denying Penix’s ability as a quarterback as his arm is arguably the most electric in college football, but his draft stock has been heavily debated as he’ll be 24 years old as a rookie and had four season-ending injuries during his time at Indiana.

Someone who is all aboard the Penix train is FOX Sports’ Joel Klatt, who joined Seattle Sports’ Brock and Salk on Thursday and had no shortage of praise of UW’s star quarterback.

“I think Michael Penix and his game, his year, everything translates to the NFL,” Klatt said. “Everything that this guy does is elite, and I thought that was on full display on Monday night.”

During UW’s Sugar Bowl win over Texas on Monday, Penix was at his best, completing 76% of his passes for 430 yards and two touchdowns while winning game MVP honors.

Klatt has been on the Husky bandwagon all year long, and he told hosts Brock Huard and Mike Salk that Penix is a big reason why, as the QB caught Klatt’s eye during his time at Indiana before transferring to Washington.

“They almost beat that Ohio State team that went to the national championship game. And I just remember watching him play specifically and thinking to myself, ‘This guy’s incredible,'” Klatt recalled.

After Penix’s 2022 campaign, it was easy for Klatt to be high on the Huskies, especially with them having their three top receivers back and head coach Kalen DeBoer’s track record of success. Klatt also thought Penix was a darkhorse Heisman contender, which turned out to be true.

“And a lot of it stems from the fact that I just really believed in Michael Penix and what he does at the quarterback position,” he said.

When it comes to Penix’s draft stock, Klatt thinks he should be one of the first players taken.

“I personally think the guy should be a top-five pick,” he said. “He’s like a better version of Tua.”

Tua is Tua Tagovailoa, the 2023 Pro Bowl quarterback for the Miami Dolphins, who boast one of the best offenses in the NFL. Klatt said he would take Penix over Tagovailoa if he were the Dolphins.

“Miami is a better team if Penix is on that team right now. That’s how much I believe in him,” he said. “Now, some people might think I’m crazy for saying that, but that’s what I believe.”

Because of Penix’s age and injury history, some believe he may not even be a first-round pick, which Klatt called “crazy.”

Klatt also railed against how Heisman voting went, which resulted in LSU’s Jayden Daniels winning the prestigious award over Penix.

“The notion that the Heisman was sealed and signed and delivered before the end of the season was so egregiously wrong,” he said. “And those people that pushed it … I had guys from the you know where who were hitting me up like, ‘What are you talking about?’ Jayden Daniels had 11 touchdowns against Grambling and Georgia State. Like, what are we doing? They were stat-padding at the end of the year. Meanwhile Penix is a freaking legend. The dude is amazing. I would take him in the top five.”

Penix as a Seahawk?

Mike Salk agreed with Klatt’s assessment of Penix as a pro, and said he’d love for the Seahawks to take him if he’s available.

Let’s just say Klatt doesn’t want that to happen.

“Please no … I’m sorry, but the Seahawks, that’s like seeing Jaxon Smith-Njigba go up there,” Klatt said, referencing Seattle’s first-round receiver from last year’s draft. “It’s like a Ferrari putting around 5 mph. I don’t want Penix in that offense … Penix with the Seahawks, what are we talking about? Can we please send him to an offensive mind, like a young guy? Can we see him with (the Rams’ Sean) McVay or (Miami’s Mike) McDaniel? Penix to Seattle? I don’t want to see him hand off 37 times.”

Listen to Brock and Salk’s full interview with Joel Klatt at this link or in the player near the top of this story.

The undefeated, No. 2-ranked UW Huskies meet the undefeated, No. 1-ranked Michigan Wolverines in the College Football Playoff National Championship at 4:30 p.m. Monday, Jan. 8. You can hear the ESPN Radio broadcast live on Seattle Sports 710 AM, or streaming on the Seattle Sports app and SeattleSports.com.

More on Michael Penix Jr. and the UW Huskies

Brock & Damon Huard’s Playoff Preview: How UW Huskies match up vs Michigan
Rost: No. 2 UW still getting ‘very little’ respect after CFP semis win
• What about Michael Penix Jr. isn’t talked about enough?
• What Stands Out: Brock Huard on UW punching ticket to title game
• Title game matches UW Huskies’ prolific Penix vs elite Wolverines D

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FOX Sports’ Klatt: Penix is top-5 pick, ‘better version’ of Pro Bowl QB