Why did Michael Penix Jr. transfer to Washington from Indiana? Explaining QB’s Pac-12 fresh start in 2022

Michael Penix Jr. has always been a good quarterback. He should be by his sixth college season, anyway.

At Washington, he made the jump to a great quarterback. It helped that he’s been able to play more than six games in one season.

Like many of this season’s best quarterbacks in college football, Penix transferred part of the way through his college career, which began in the midwest. He played four seasons at Indiana but appeared in only 20 games due to never-ending injuries.

He was talented, and his redshirt sophomore season was the Hoosiers’ best in 50 years. But like the program and its struggle maintaining success after that year, the quarterback could never get over the hump to become a household name.

He’s done so while playing in the Pac-12.

MORE: Who are the top four teams in fifth CFP poll of 2023?

Why exactly did Penix transfer from Indiana to Washington? The Sporting News has everything you need to know about the quarterback’s decision.

Why did Michael Penix Jr. transfer to Washington?

Penix never completed a full season during his four years at Indiana. He tore his ACL in both 2018 and 2020, and he sustained shoulder joint injuries in 2019 and 2021.

It was an unfortunate four years for the QB who helped the Hoosiers to a national ranking, No. 12, during the 2020 season, which was shortened and restructured because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Regardless, failure to stay healthy resulted in his desire to find a new program. He had NFL aspirations and decided it would be better for his future if he could complete at least one full season as a college quarterback.

“I’m a Hoosier, and I’ll always be a Hoosier. I’m graduating, in May and I have loved everything about playing for Coach Allen and being a part of this team,” Penix told Sports Illustrated after his transfer announcement. “These are my brothers. But I just want a new start, a new beginning. I want to finish my college career the best way possible, and I think I need to do that somewhere else.”

As Penix looked for a new program to join, he found a familiar face at Washington. Kalen DeBoer had just taken over the Husky program; he was the offensive coordinator and quarterback coach for Indiana in 2019.

So, Penix set off for the Pacific Northwest. He took over as starting quarterback, transforming a team from 4-8 in 2021 to 11-2 the following season. In his first year as a Husky, he led the FBS in passing yards, averaging 357 yards per game.

His final season of college football has been just as good. He’s second nationally in passing yards per game with 324.92 while leading Washington to an undefeated regular season, a Pac-12 championship game and, maybe, a College Football Playoff appearance. 

Penix’s performance this season has made him a frontrunner for the Heisman trophy.

MORE: 2023 Heisman Trophy race: Where Bo Nix, Jayden Daniels, Michael Penix Jr. stand after Week 13

Who is Michael Penix Jr.?

A left-handed quarterback, Penix was a three-star recruit from Tampa Bay Tech in Florida, where he also played baseball and ran track.

He had several Power Five offers, including one from the Huskies, but he committed to Tennessee. That is, until Jeremy Pruitt took over the program at the end of 2017. The quarterback’s scholarship was pulled just days before he was supposed to sign.

Fortunately, Penix had the support of the Volunteers’ former graduate assistant Nick Sheridan, who had just completed his first season as quarterbacks coach at Indiana. The two talked on the phone frequently, even when the quarterback was still dedicated to Tennessee.

“He would always say, ‘We’re here for you if anything ever changes.’ Well, it did. Now, this is great. I’m really looking forward to working with him every day,” Penix told Sports Illustrated after his second season in Bloomington.

When he decided to transfer to Washington, Sheridan came, too, to work with a familiar coach and QB. He was named the tight ends coach for the 2022 season, the same position he held when he worked with DeBoer in 2019.

MORE: Odds, props, predictions for Oregon vs. Washington in Pac-12 championship

Michael Penix Jr. stats

Year Games CMP% YDs TDs INTs
2018 3 61.8 219 1 0
2019 6 68.8 1,394 10 4
2020 6 56.4 1,645 14 4
2021 5 53.7 939 4 7
2022 13 65.3 4,641 31 8
2023 12 65.6 3,899 32 8
Total 45 63.2 12,737 92 31

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