TAMPA — When Michael Penix Jr. arrived at Tampa Bay Tech as a transfer on the heels of a solid run at Pasco High, the junior-to-be found himself buried as the third quarterback on the depth chart.
A daunting climb, especially for a newbie, right? Not quite.
"It took all of about two or three weeks for him to win the starting job," Titans coach Jayson Roberts said with a laugh.
Standing at 6-foot-2, 175 pounds with what coaches laud as a cannon for a left arm, one might find it easy to understand — at least on paper — why Penix's ascension from third-stringer to starter was so swift.
But for Penix, who threw for 1,291 yards and scored 20 total touchdowns in two years with the Pirates and holds offers from USF, Florida Atlantic and Toledo, it was anything but easy. He said it took time proving himself worthy of the role, even if that meant initially taking a backseat to get acclimated to a new locker room.
"I took everything slowly," he said. "I just got along with everybody and I had to adapt to a new team. But they made me feel welcome."
Penix's ability and growing leadership have been a welcome addition to TBT as well.
"Probably the first week that he was here, he showed all of the characteristics that you're looking for in a quarterback," Roberts said. "It took him less than two weeks or so to pick up our playbook and our scheme and what we do. He was calling plays out, calling out his own protections and making coverage checks."
To make room for Penix, Roberts said incumbent Trent Wyatt (951 yards, 18 total TDs last season) will slide into an athlete role and split time at receiver and running back in addition to getting some reps under center.
With Penix leading the way offensively, fall can't come soon enough for the Titans, fresh off a runnerup finish to Plant City in Class 7A, District 9.
"Michael's our guy," Roberts said. " … We've had some good guys play here at quarterback, but we've never had anybody with the arm talent he has.
"There's no doubt. There's no question about it."