Sean McEvoy was intrigued by Michael Penix as much as any of the quarterbacks who attended the Flight School quarterback he runs with Quincy Avery, his fellow quarterback trainer and partner in a venture they call QB Takeover.
Avery had seen Penix at the Elite 11 camp when he was coming out of high school. McEvoy had not. He had seen him play during the season and noticed him lead Indiana to a 6-2 season, Outback Bowl berth and top 15 finish with wins over Penn State and Michigan, but hadn’t seen him up close. And he obviously wasn’t sure what to expect considering that Penix’s season ended early because of an ACL tear.
McEvoy got to watch him at his two-day camp in Smyrna, Ga., working out alongside 17 other highly-regarded college quarterbacks including Miami’s D’Eriq King, Penn State’s Sean Clifford, Oregon’s Anthony Brown, Florida’s Emory Jones and Liberty’s Malik Willis. He came away seriously impressed, so much so that he praised Penix on his Twitter account and posted videos of him making throws. He was equally as effusive in his praise in an interview with the Daily Hoosier.
“He’s one of the few guys I hadn’t seen before in person, which is always how I like to evaluate guys because you get to see how they stand up in relative comparison to other top quarterbacks in the game,” McEvoy said. “Right away the initial impression was just how live his arm was. The ball kind of jumped out of his hands as he was driving the ball down the field. He was able to really rip it on a low trajectory. That was the biggest thing that jumped out was how explosive he was throwing the football. Then, just seeing how consistent he was throughout two days. It’s not like he just has a big arm and he can rip it, but every throw was coming off his arm with that kind of velocity.”
Even after having seen him before, Avery came away impressed as well, and that’s saying something. Avery has been an a personal trainer to several NFL quarterbacks including DeShaun Watson, Justin Fields, Dwayne Haskins and Joshua Dobbs. He walked away believing Penix could also have a spot in the league.
“He threw the ball better than I remember him throwing it when he was younger,” Avery said. “I saw him coming out of high school and all of those things. Just seeing him now and his maturation and his ability to make all the throws, he looks like someone who can play at the NFL level. He was just more raw (coming out of high school. He hadn’t really had the opportunity to get developed in that way. Now he just looks really refined, looks crisp, his drops look good. He has an efficient throwing motion. All of those things with how much work he’s put in. How good of a job coach (Nick) Sheridan has done. They’ve done a lot of things to make him successful.”
McEvoy and Avery were both cautious when discussing Penix’s knee, as they have not been involved in his rehabilitation, and nothing they did at camp involved full contact. Both made it clear that they can’t say how close he is to 100 percent recovered. But they also said there wasn’t anything they asked him to do that he couldn’t do. Other than the knee brace he wore, there wasn’t much of a sign that Penix was coming off a major knee injury.
“Everything that every other guy was doing, he was doing,” Avery said.
They also said they were impressed with what they saw from Penix when he wasn’t throwing the ball and when he was just spending time away from the field with the other college quarterbacks. McEvoy shared a video earlier in the week of Penix and Clifford joking about their duel in the Indiana-Penn State game earlier in the season when Penix won the game diving for the pylon on a two-point conversion. Clifford argued that he should have been ruled down before the ball crossed the goalline. Penix obviously disagreed, but both seemed to enjoy the interaction.
That, McEvoy said, was indicative of Penix’s entire stay at the Flight School.
“He just blended into the group so quickly,” McEvoy said. “He seemed to be the guy that everybody liked being around. He was a good presence to have amongst everybody. We’ve seen it through the years. You have all of these kind of top college quarterbacks. They obviously share this rare thing that only they know what this experience is like. It’s neat to see how they interact. But you also see some of these guys become the people in the room that the other quarterbacks want to be around. Mike stood out as one of those guys.”
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