Washington quarterback Michael Penix speaks during a press conference at the NFL football scouting combine Friday in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)

Washington quarterback Michael Penix speaks during a press conference at the NFL football scouting combine Friday in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)

Michael Penix Jr. confident he’s answered concerns at NFL combine

Varying national reports have stated the UW quarterback has impressed teams in formal meetings

INDIANAPOLIS — For a moment Friday, maybe the most prolific offensive football player in University of Washington’s history was forced to play some defense.

Near the end of his 14-minute mandatory session with the media at the NFL scouting combine, UW quarterback Michael Penix Jr. was asked about reports that his draft stock is falling.

“Somebody said that?” Penix responded.

The questioner said that somebody may have.

“They may have or they did?” Penix responded a little incredulously. “I don’t know about that. I’m just being myself and each and every day I’m getting better. So I can’t control that stuff.”

Well, maybe not completely.

But as the long-held football saying goes, you can at least try to control what you can control.

And Penix appears to be doing that well so far in Indy.

Varying national reports have stated Penix is impressing teams in the 15-minute formal meetings that are allowed, as well as any informal interviews.

“Penix has been a star this week, per multiple teams, in interviews,” the NFL Network’s Peter Schrager reported Friday.

None of those have yet been with the Seahawks, though, as Penix said he has not met with Seattle.

Of course, that’s likely because few teams know him better with former UW offensive coordinator Ryan Grubb and offensive line coach Scott Huff now holding those same titles with the Seahawks.

“I actually didn’t talk to the Seahawks,” he said with a little laugh. “I don’t know why that is. Maybe they know me — hope so. But I’m super excited for (Grubb). Him and coach Huff, what they were able to do with us at the University of Washington was special and to see them get success at the next level, I’m super excited to see it.”

Penix also said he thinks he has answered any questions teams might have about his health.

As proof, Penix said teams did not ask for any extra tests and that he “just did all of the things that they wanted to see.”

Of the results of tests, which in the eyes of many teams are the most important aspect of the combine for any player, he said: “They are good. I got it all out of the way yesterday and it wasn’t as bad as what I thought.”

He also said he thinks having played two fully healthy seasons with the Huskies should stand as all the evidence any skeptics need to show he’s past the issues that plagued him at Indiana, where he suffered two ACL tears to his right knee and injuries to each shoulder.

When asked if he thinks his injury history is still a concern to teams, Penix said “not really.”

“If they are, I can’t control it at this point,” he added. “That’s another reason why I came back for the 2023 season was just to have another fully healthy season and show that I’m ready to compete and I can do it at the next level. So at this point I can’t control if there are still questions about the injury history.”

Speaking of competing, Penix plans to do that again Saturday, saying he will throw and might do other on-field drills when quarterbacks take center stage with workouts at Lucas Oil Stadium.

That’s in contrast to the projected top three quarterbacks — USC’s Caleb Williams, North Carolina’s Drake Maye and Louisiana State’s Jayden Daniels — who are not expected to throw.

Of course, it could be argued that someone in Penix’s position — regarded as potentially going as high as the middle of the first round but with some also thinking he could slip to the second — needs to throw to further impress scouts.

But Penix said he also simply wants to take advantage of what he views as a once-in-a-lifetime moment.

“Just to show I’m willing to compete at the highest level,” he said of his decision to throw. “I’m always willing to compete. This is a game that I’ve loved since I was a kid and any time I’ve got an opportunity to compete I’m going to take that opportunity. Nothing against the guys that’s not doing it; everybody has their own reasons. But for me, I don’t pass up opportunities to compete.”

That said, Penix clarified he was not yet sure if he would run the 40 and do other drills, saying he might save those for UW’s Pro Day, scheduled for March 28.

“As far as running and jumping, it’s still a game-time decision and I’m not sure about it yet,” he said. “Possibly might do it at pro day. Still seeing about that part. But I know 100% I’m throwing.”

Penix also threw during practices at the Senior Bowl before deciding not to play in the game itself.

The conventional wisdom held that Penix helped himself with his Senior Bowl practices, and a good day Saturday would only add to an already impressive resume built over the past 18 months or so since his transfer to UW from Indiana, going 25-3 in starting all 28 games for the Huskies and placing second in the Heisman Trophy balloting this past season.

Still, no matter his performance here, there will be questions about just how high up draft boards he can go.

Williams and then Maye and Daniels at either second or third (or vice versa) seem locked into the top three.

Michigan’s J.J. McCarthy also has been said to have impressed in his formal meetings here, one of which was with the Seahawks, as has Oregon’s Bo Nix.

Depending on who you want to believe, each could go ahead of Penix. To cite one source, Pro Football Focus currently has Penix as the sixth quarterback on its Big Board, behind those five, and 47th overall, citing in part questions about his willingness to throw over the middle of the field, something some feel Michigan was able to take advantage of in beating the Huskies in the national title game.

That game, though, Penix indicated he already feels is old news.

Asked if he had any new thoughts on what happened that night with some time to reflect, he said, “Nah, I’ve moved on. I know my team, we really wanted to win that game but we fell short. (Michigan is) a good team. But I’ve moved on.”

So has former UW coach Kalen DeBoer. Having been as close to him as any of the 2023 Huskies given their shared Indiana history, Penix said of his former coach’s move to Alabama only that “I’m super excited for Coach DeBoer. I’d never talk bad about him.”

Not that his past didn’t creep in just a little bit Friday. At one point, he reflected on being at the combine and the times when he was attending school in Bloomington, about an hour down the road, when such a day seemed much further away.

“Man, it’s amazing just knowing all the things that I’ve been through to get to this point,” he said. “I’m super excited and super blessed for it all. So I’m soaking it all in and I’m enjoying every moment.”

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