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‘I wouldn’t change my journey for anything’: Despite the ups and downs, Michael Penix grateful for time at Indiana



Michael Penix
Michael Penix is grateful for his time at Indiana despite his ups and downs and credits that part of his career for shaping him. (Sara Diggins/American-Statesman-USA TODAY NETWORK)

One more game — that’s all there is left in the college football season. And, Indiana football fans will be tuned in closely as one of its favorite players will look to raise the trophy come Monday night.

There’s no question former Indiana and current Washington quarterback Michael Penix Jr is one of the most beloved Hoosiers to grace the field in Memorial Stadium. Not only is it because of the excitement he brought the Indiana fan base for the 2019 and 2020 seasons. But it’s also because of his journey — at times not an easy one to watch.

Everyone knows about the injuries that hindered Penix while in Bloomington. But despite that, he still put together some of the most magical seasons in recent memory for Indiana football.

On Monday against Michigan it can come full circle.

“Man, I feel like everything happened for a reason,” Penix said postgame following a 37-31 win over Texas in the College Football Playoff Semifinal. “Coming out of high school, I’m going to be honest, when I committed to Indiana University, my dad, he didn’t really want me to go there. He didn’t understand why I was going there. So that was something that was hard for me, just having somebody that I love the most not really, he didn’t see my vision. But obviously, it led me to Washington.

“Going to Indiana helped me meet Coach (Kalen) DeBoer and our relationship that we built throughout the years has been amazing. I wouldn’t want to play for anybody else. So I’m super blessed.”

Michael Penix played the 2019 season at Indiana under then-offensive coordinator Kaleb DeBoer. In his one season with DeBoer he threw for 1,394 yards and 10 touchdowns to four interceptions. A season-ending injury kept Penix out of what could have been the first bowl victory for Indiana since 1991. Then, another season-ending injury in 2020 kept Penix from playing in another bowl game in a season when he helped Indiana reach No. 9 overall in the AP Poll and put together numerous record-breaking performances.

But, at the end of the day, it’s what shaped him and has helped him become the man that is one game away from greatness.

“I said all the time, I wouldn’t change my journey for anything,” Penix continued. “That might seem crazy to say because of what I’ve been through. If I would say that I had to get hurt four times for me to get to this point, that’s not something that I would have thought of. But, man, I feel like it was all worth it. I feel like everything I’ve been through is definitely worth it and shaped me into the person, the player, and the man I am today.”

Penix has put together two seasons in Washington totaling 9,289 yards with 66 touchdowns and just 17 interceptions. He is 25-2 at Washington with a Pac-12 Championship, Heisman finalist and two bowl victories.

Monday will end a terrific college career for Penix and one that will also end the current Pac-12 as we knew it before Washington joins Oregon, USC and UCLA in entering the Big 10.

So, full circle it is for Michael Penix and something that will always keep him remembering ‘where I came from’.

“I’m now just super blessed to be in this position and to be able to be on the other side of everything I’ve been through and continue to climb,” Penix said. “I just continue to trust my faith and trust everything that I believe in. I just let everything go and have fun and not really worry about anything that I’ve been through. But, always remembering where I came from. To get to here, it’s definitely made my journey even more special.”

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Alec Lasley is the owner of Hoosier Illustrated, a comprehensive site covering news, updates and recruiting for Indiana University athletics. Alec has covered Indiana for six years and is a credentialed media member. He has previously worked for both Rivals and 247Sports.