Senior Bowl features well-traveled QBs like Penix, other top prospects

Feb 2, 2024, 1:42 PM

Michael Penix Jr. NFL Draft...

Michael Penix Jr. of the UW Huskies throws a pass against Texas in the Sugar Bowl on Jan. 1, 2024. (Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

(Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

MOBILE, Ala. (AP) — The Senior Bowl quarterbacks are a well-traveled group, most of whom have moved from one Power Five program to another. Led by Washington’s Michael Penix Jr. and Oregon’s Bo Nix, all seven have spent this week leading up to Saturday’s Senior Bowl working on their next landing spot.

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The game will culminate a week of scrutiny from NFL coaches, scouts and executives on the field and in the meeting rooms. And a week of trying to stand out from the crowd.

“It’s all about preparation,” said Penix, who led the Huskies to the national championship game. “Once you get to this level, everybody knows football. It’s about what extra are you going to do to separate yourself from somebody else. That’s what it’s going to be about. That’s what it’s always been about.”

Penix, Nix and Notre Dame’s Sam Hartman will lead the National team. The American team has South Carolina’s Spencer Rattler, Tennessee’s Joe Milton III, Tulane’s Michael Pratt and South Alabama’s Carter Bradley. Bradley, whose father Gus is the Indianapolis Colts’ defensive coordinator, will play on his home field at Hancock Whitney Stadium.

Penix, who led the nation in passing each of the past two seasons, and Nix have faced off twice this season in leading the Pac-12’s top teams. Now they’re teammates for a week.

LSU Heisman Trophy winner Jayden Daniels, USC’s Caleb Williams and North Carolina’s Drake Maye are widely regarded as the top three quarterbacks available for April’s draft.

But there are big names and potential high picks in Mobile too. Penix, who started his career at Indiana, was second in the Heisman voting. Nix, an Auburn transfer, finished third.

Rattler arrived at South Carolina via Oklahoma, Milton started his career at Michigan and Hartman at Wake Forest.

They’ve spent the week trying to separate themselves from the pack but the goal for the game is to give them all fairly equal chances.

“We’re just going to try to give these guys equal opportunities across the board,” said National coach Jeff Ulbrich, the New York Jets’ defensive coordinator. “Do we want to win? Absolutely. But at the same time the most important part of this game is giving these guys the opportunity to shine.”

They all bring confidence developed during successful college careers. Rattler was a bright spot in South Carolina’s disappointing season.

“I stack up versus everybody,” Rattler said. “I’m confident in my abilities. I’m happy with where I’m at right now. Still working.”

Given that five of them have played for multiple schools, the quarterbacks have some added common ground along with their mutual goals.

Hartman said being able to connect with other college passers has been a fun part of the experience. He can particularly relate to Nix. Both left their home states to finish their careers.

“His legacy and his career is very similar to mine, the highs and the lows,” Hartman said. “I’m a huge fan of him.”

The game features a number of potential early-round picks, including edge rushers Laiatu Latu of UCLA and Darius Robinson of Missouri, Toledo cornerback Quinyon Mitchell and Texas defensive lineman T’Vondre Sweat.

There are some highly rated offensive linemen too, including Oregon State’s Taliese Fuaga, Oklahoma’s Tyler Guyton, BYU’s Kingsley Suamatai, Oregon center Jackson Powers-Johnson and Houston’s Patrick Paul.

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Senior Bowl features well-traveled QBs like Penix, other top prospects