Humbled, mature Mike Pennel anxious for NFL opportunity

Arizona Sports News online

Mike Pennel and Arizona State football were never meant to be.

Heading into the fall of 2012 the two appeared to be the perfect match. New head coach Todd Graham’s defense was looking for a space-eating, run-stuffer and the 340-pound Scottsdale Community College transfer Pennel seemed to be a natural fit.

The marriage didn’t last long. ASU coaches drew tired of Pennel’s antics. He was suspended for the Illinois game early in the season and didn’t play in the Devils win at Cal. Following the game, Pennel fired off a series of tweets expressing his displeasure over the situation.

“Wow, glad we won but warming the bench is a new feeling for me,” he tweeted. “How you expect me to smile when you disrespected me on national television. They will probably make me shut down my Twitter for not keeping my mouth closed. No one else to talk (to).”

Three days later he was suspended indefinitely for “failure to meet team standards.”

His Sun Devil career was over. Three tackles. One quarterback hurry.

“I broke team rules,” Pennel explained from the NFL Combine in Indianapolis when asked by about his fallout with ASU. “I made a lot of decisions that a 21-year-old does make in college but not [that] a 21-year-old student-athlete can make…I was very immature. It was a combination of things which led me to leave.”

Looking for a fresh start on and off the field the Denver native transferred to Division-II Colorado State University-Pueblo where he played his senior season. He thrived in the ThunderWolves system posting three sacks and six tackles for loss in Pueblo’s 11-1 season.

“It was humbling and it was a relief,” Pennel said of his one-year back in his home state. “Football was very fun for me. It wasn’t an issue to go very early into the weight room. The coaching staff [accepted me] with open arms…they’re all family.”

Life is full of detours.

Nobody knows it better than Mike Pennel who’s hopeful to blaze his own unique trail to the NFL.