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Michael Penix Jr. Wows at Washington Pro Day

The buzz inside Dempsey Indoor was potent as Washington’s Pro Day was getting set to begin. There were 19 Washington Huskies slated to participate in workouts. All 32 NFL teams were present in some form ranging from head coaches to position coaches, and general managers to scouts. Michael Penix Jr. ran the 40-yard dash and participated in throwing drills with his high-powered passing targets. The only player on the list of 19 who chose to opt-out of workouts was wide receiver Rome Odunze. He put on a stellar performance at the NFL Combine, so had no need to perform again. Penix Jr. turned heads with his 40-yard dash time and the ease of velocity and precision on his throws during the skill position session. He also exhibited what appeared to be a modestly tweaked throwing motion, looking smoother and slightly more compact. An adjustment that can go a long way at the next level.

Michael Penix Jr. – Vertical and 40-Yard Dash

The Maxwell Award winning quarterback began his workouts inside Dempsey Indoor with the vertical jump. Penix Jr. posted an impressive 36.5” leap, which would have been the highest of all quarterbacks at this year’s NFL Combine. The next closest was Tulane’s Michael Pratt with a 36” vertical leap. 

From there, Penix Jr. worked his way to the other side of the indoor facility where he began to get loose to run the 40-yard dash. It was an event that he did not participate in at the NFL Combine, which had some prognosticators questioning his speed. He told Molly McGrath of ESPN, “I ain’t no bum. I want to show off my athleticism and prove that I can run when I need to.” He did just that. 

Penix Jr. shot off the line and posted an unofficial 4.46, clocked by a fellow member of the observing media. Moments later, word of this unofficial time spread throughout the indoor facility, and was quickly picked up nationally. The 4.46 would have been the fastest of any quarterback at the NFL Combine by nearly a tenth of a second. Penix Jr. made a statement – he can run. He elected not to run his second 40-yard dash.

Preparations for the Throwing Session

About two hours later, position group workouts for non-offensive skill positions were close to wrapping up. The music inside Dempsey got a little louder as Penix Jr. walked away from the speaker setup near mid-field. It seemed as though the Heisman runner-up increased the volume prior to beginning warmups for the throwing session.

Penix Jr. went through arm warm-ups and short passing warm-ups with Odunze by his side catching passes for him. The offensive linemen were still going through position drills with NFL staff. But attention was beginning to shift towards Penix Jr. and the high-powered offense about perform. The quarterback, along with wide receivers Ja’Lynn Polk, and Jalen McMillan, and tight ends Jack Westover and Devin Culp finished their warm-ups and began walking towards the south end zone of the Indoor. They were joined by running back Dillon Johnson, who was moving with ease after healing from his foot injury at the end of last season. Giles Jackson was also catching passes but was not wearing the white Pro Day gear, indicating that he was a support player there to catch passes for Penix Jr.

The throwing session got underway with a ‘U-shape’ of personnel the width of the field at the back of the nation’s leading passer. The cluster on the field consisted of NFL personnel, coaches, photographers, and other staff. Last Word on College Football stood along the West sideline with members of the media as well as player family members and friends mixed in.

Washington Pro Day – Throwing Session

“Go!” chanted Penix Jr. in the shotgun, as a staffer snapped him the ball, and the nation’s leading offense was on display. The throwing session worked through short and intermediate routes at first. Both Culp and Polk made excellent sideline catches on crossing routes to the far sideline. Johnson looked smooth out of the backfield on the foot, catching passes on the run and accelerating with ease. Westover was catching passes as well. He had surgery on his hand several weeks ago and did not participate at the NFL Combine. Westover had tape over his left hand, but it didn’t hinder his performance. He hauled in an impressive over the shoulder catch on a deep corner route right in front of us at full speed. He also made a couple of leaping catches over the middle.

Towards the end of the session, Penix Jr. began unleashing the deep ball. He connected with Polk and McMillan in stride on several occasions. He was releasing the ball from about the five yard line, while players were hauling it in near the 10- or 15-yard line on our side of the field. The playing surface inside Dempsey Indoor is an 80-yard field. These throws were anywhere from 50 to 60 air yards. Our vantage point was from the 15-yard line opposite where the ball was snapped, with the throws coming our way. The final throw of the day was delivered to McMillan in stride and on target. It fell into his hands after traveling more than 60 yards in the air.

The quarterback’s precision was on display for all but four of his throws. We made note of three overthrows on deep balls, and one that fell at the feet of a receiver on an intermediate route.

Other Notes from Washington Pro Day

The defensive linemen worked out with Los Angeles Chargers defensive line coach Mike Elston. Their workouts were right in front of the media, giving us a very up-close look at the players. Bralen Trice was working out amongst this group. He was explosive in the dummy drills, moving around the three dummies with excellent speed and force. Trice led the team in sacks and tackles for loss last season. 

At defensive back, Washington’s leading tackler Dom Hampton ran the 40-yard dash and went through secondary drills. Hampton posted an unofficial 40-time in the mid 4.4’s. An impressive time for a 6′-3″ and 220 pound defensive back. He looked smooth in backpedals and showed off his hands as well. Hampton had two interceptions last season for the Huskies. Edefuan Ulofoshio participated in linebacker and pass rushing drills as well, looking explosive.

Some notable people in attendance at Washington’s Pro Day included former head coach Chris Petersen. A few of his former recruits were working out at Pro Day and in attendance. He caught up with them and other familiar faces in the program. Jedd Fisch was there supporting his team and chatting with NFL staff. Former Husky quarterback Warren Moon watched Penix Jr. throw and caught up with him after the event. Seattle Seahawks general manager John Schneider was in attendance. Giants head coach Brian Daboll and general manager Joe Schoen were there as well. 

Photo courtesy: AP Photo/John Froschauer


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