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Tampa’s Michael Penix Jr. finishes as Heisman Trophy runnerup

The Tampa Bay Tech alumnus was the area’s first Heisman finalist ever.
 
Washington star Michael Penix Jr. was one of four finalists for the Heisman Trophy. Penix is the first player from a Tampa Bay area high school to beocme a finalist for college football's most prestigious honor.
Washington star Michael Penix Jr. was one of four finalists for the Heisman Trophy. Penix is the first player from a Tampa Bay area high school to beocme a finalist for college football's most prestigious honor. [ EDUARDO MUNOZ ALVAREZ | AP ]
Published Dec. 10, 2023|Updated Dec. 10, 2023

Tampa’s Michael Penix Jr. missed out on becoming the area’s first Heisman Trophy winner. Penix, the star quarterback at Washington and Tampa Bay Tech alumnus, finished second behind LSU’s Jayden Daniels in the award’s closest voting since 2018.

Penix finished with 1,701 points, 328 behind Daniels. Penix earned 292 first-place votes and also earned the fan vote. Oregon quarterback Bo Nix and Ohio State receiver Marvin Harrison Jr. finished third and fourth.

Florida State quarterback Jordan Travis was fifth, missing out on one of the four invitations to the New York ceremony. His finish was the highest by a Seminoles player since Jameis Winston became the program’s third winner in 2013. Travis earned eight first-place votes.

Penix’s Tampa Bay ties were spotlighted early during ESPN’s special; he was introduced as a Washington quarterback and former Dade City Piratea shout out to his youth football team in Pasco County. Pictures and videos of him with the Pirates and Tampa Bay Tech were shown on the telecast.

Washington quarterback Michael Penix Jr. earned 292 first-place votes for the Heisman Trophy.
Washington quarterback Michael Penix Jr. earned 292 first-place votes for the Heisman Trophy. [ JEFF CHIU | AP ]

Penix was the nation’s leading passer (4,218 yards) for the second straight season and led the Huskies to a 13-0 record and the No. 2 seed in the College Football Playoff. On Friday, he won the Maxwell Award, a different trophy given to the nation’s top player.

The 6-foot-3, 213-pound left-hander threw 33 touchdown passes and nine interceptions this season. Penix was a team captain and the Most Valuable Player in Washington’s win over Oregon for the final Pac-12 championship. He joined former defensive lineman Steve Emtman as the only Heisman finalists in program history; Emtman was fourth in 1991 before being drafted with the first overall pick by the Colts.

Penix wore a sharp purple suit to the ceremony. The inside was lined with the name of all of his Huskies teammates and coaches; Ryan Otton (the younger brother of Bucs tight end Cade Otton) was on his far right.

Washington quarterback Michael Penix Jr. made sure his teammates were present at his Heisman Trophy ceremony.
Washington quarterback Michael Penix Jr. made sure his teammates were present at his Heisman Trophy ceremony. [ EDUARDO MUNOZ ALVAREZ | AP ]

“They aren’t here today, but on my suit, they are,” Penix said during the ceremony on ESPN. “Obviously I couldn’t be there without them.”

Penix’s path to Washington was, at times, bumpy. He was a three-star high school recruit who initially committed to Tennessee but lost his spot after a coaching change and ended up at Indiana. He led the 2020 Hoosiers to the program’s best finish in the Associated Press poll (12th) in more than five decades.

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Injuries derailed his career there, leading him to transfer to Washington for a reunion with former Hoosiers offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach Kalen DeBoer. They’ve gone 24-2 together.

Penix’s collegiate career is not over. He’ll lead Washington against Texas in the Jan. 1 Sugar Bowl semifinal. A win there sends the Huskies to the Jan. 8 national title game in Houston, Texas.

“Whatever comes your way, he’s all about moving forward,” DeBoer said during the ceremony. “We’ve just been blessed to have him.”

Tampa's Michael Penix Jr. was one of four finalists for the Heisman Trophy.
Tampa's Michael Penix Jr. was one of four finalists for the Heisman Trophy. [ EDUARDO MUNOZ ALVAREZ | AP ]

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