Indiana Football: Mike Penix needs to stay healthy

Michael Penix Jr. is on his way to becoming a breakout name in 2021.

BLOOMINGTON, INDIANA – NOVEMBER 28: Michael Penix Jr #9 of the Indiana Hoosiers looks to pass the ball against the Maryland Terrapins during the game at Memorial Stadium on November 28, 2020 in Bloomington, Indiana. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

Mike Penix is one of the NCAA’s most exciting players to return to college football this season.

Penix led the Hoosiers to their best season in over 60 years in 2020. Penix started off the season as a folklore hero when he won Indiana’s Week 1 game vs Penn State in Memorial Stadium. The game is best remembered for overtime when Penix led the Hoosiers on a touchdown drive.

Penix threw the game-winning touchdown to Whop Philyor before then diving for the pylon on a legendary 2-point conversion for the win.  Penix instantly became a household name and the Hoosiers and Penix alike trended on the top of Twitter feeds everywhere.

However, Penix’s season ended prematurely for the third consecutive year. It’s becoming a worrisome sight to see #9 hobble after a run or throw and constantly fight major injuries.

In Penix’s freshman year, he played in three games. He completed 61.8% of his passes for 219 yards and a touchdown. Penix led the Hoosiers to a 2-1 record before tearing his ACL in his right knee. The injury obviously put an abrupt end to Penix’s season and he took a freshman redshirt season as a result.

Mike bounced back in 2019 and won the starting job. He started Indiana’s first six games and took the Hoosiers to a 5-1 record. Penix tossed 10 touchdowns and 1,394 yards in those games. However, bad luck again plagued Penix’s season and a shoulder injury ended year two of his reign at QB. Penix underwent season-ending surgery for his right sternoclavicular joint injury. Penix entered year three with a torn ACL in his knee in 2018 and a major right shoulder injury in 2019.

Penix had his best year with Indiana Football in 2020. He again started six games and went 5-1 as the starter. The third-year QB set career highs in passing yards and touchdowns with 1,645 yards and 14 touchdowns. Penix was efficient with the football and led his group to signature wins over Penn State, Michigan, and Wisconsin.

Unfortunately, Penix again got hurt in 2020.

Against the Maryland Terrapins, Penix tore his ACL in his right knee for the second time in college. Although it’s no longer the devastating injury it once was, it’s no easy feat for Penix to bounce back and recover from. There’s no denying the fact that Penix will likely lose explosiveness and some durability in his right knee along with the mental toughness that stems from overcoming an injury.

The right side of Penix’s body has taken some serious toll from the effects of college football after three years for the Hoosiers’ QB. Shoulder surgery and two ACLs tears are a concerning injury development heading into year four.

Coach Tom Allen has consistently said Penix’s return and rehab have been fully on schedule. He has been practicing with the team, giving an intrinsic and emotional lift to this football team. All indications are that Mike Penix will be ready for Week 1 vs Iowa. After another long offseason of rehab and surgery, Penix is looking forward to proving people wrong in 2021. If he stays healthy, Penix will be one of the top players in college football this season.