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Michael Penix Jr. becomes the first Washington Huskie to win the Maxwell Award

(Jennifer Buchanan / The Seattle Times)

This season has been one to remember for the Washington Huskies, going undefeated (13-0) overall and (9-0) in Pac-12 Conference play en route to winning the Pac-12 championship 38-34 over the No.8 ranked Oregon Ducks led by Bo Nix.

While this season has been one to remember for the Huskies, people won’t forget the engine behind the machine… Huskies quarterback Michael Penix Jr.

Penix Jr is a sixth-year senior for the Huskies who was named the Maxwell Player of the Year, an honor given annually to the best player in college football.

Penix was chosen over other highly productive quarterbacks in Nix and LSU’s Jayden Daniels who both had tremendous seasons in their own right. Penix showed when it mattered most that he was meant for the big stage, throwing for 319 yards on 27-of-39 completions, a touchdown, and one interception.

Penix made multiple plays under duress throughout the championship game under the brightest lights, which you can see some of his highlights here:

Penix earned every bit of this award. The sixth-year senior threw for a nation-best 4,218 yards on a 65.9% completion rate to go with 33 touchdowns and nine interceptions. 

He not only is the main culprit for the Huskies' first Pac-12 title in five years but also helped lead them to a College Football Playoff Appearance for the second time in program history.

What makes Penix’s Cinderella season and story all the more fascinating is this is a player who’s had to overcome adversity, having dealt with multiple season-ending injuries throughout his collegiate career from multiple ACL tears (one in 2018 and again in 2021), and dislocating his non-throwing shoulder in 2019.

The injuries took such a toll on Penix that it started to affect his mental health as he stated to the Pac-12 Network earlier this season:

"There were times when I'd wake up the day of the game and I'd wait until my roommate leaves, and I'd just lie on the floor, and I'd just cry to God, just praying that he'd protect me that day because I knew where my head was at at the time, and it wasn't truly fresh," Penix said, adding that there were "a lot of tears."

Penix's insatiable drive and determination led to him not only returning to play college football but also reaching new heights that many probably would’ve thought were improbable with all the odds stacked against him.

Penix, 23, is now projected to be a first-round pick after one of the greatest collegiate seasons college football has ever seen. Penix should be one of the many favorites to take home the Heisman Trophy, as he was recently named a top-four finalist with the second-best odds to win the award of +900 behind Jayden Daniels according to Fox Sports.

His story is one of unfaltering perseverance that should inspire many around the world.


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