Happy to be there
Herd's Pennington takes long road to Heisman ceremony
Posted: Tuesday December 07, 1999 07:05 PM
Marshall's Chad Pennington had 284 yards passing in the Thundering Herd's comeback win in the MAC Championship. AP
HUNTINGTON, W.Va. (AP) -- Chad Pennington likes talking about the
big catch -- as long as the subject is fishing.
When it comes to the Heisman Trophy, the Marshall quarterback
and avid angler is glad just to be a finalist. He realizes he's a
long shot to win, in part because the country's bigger programs get
much more attention.
That lesson was learned from former teammate Randy Moss, aa tribute to
his athletic ability.
Yet the 6-foot-3, 220-pounder from Knoxville, Tenn., wasn't a
top prospect out of high school.
He wasn't recruited by his hometown Volunteers and he took over
the starting role at Marshall in 1995 only after the two
quarterbacks ahead of him got hurt.
"He just came in and started passing balls and was hitting all
the receivers," Marshall free safety Rogers Beckett said. "You
could just see the people in the crowd were just like, 'Whoa, where
did this kid come from?'"
Pennington has thrown for 10,700 yards and 100 TDs. His 1,026
career completions are second all-time in I-A behind Louisville's
This season he was third nationally in passing efficiency,
completing 275 of 405 for 3,799 yards and 37 TDs.
"He's probably the best quarterback I've ever played against,"
Western Michigan cornerback Eric Nunley said. "You can't beat him.
He's too good."
It helps to be an academic All-American.
Last week, while Marshall was preparing for the MAC championship
game against Western Michigan, Pennington went through a grueling
interview for a prestigious Rhodes Scholarship, which eventually
went to someone else.
A broadcast journalism major, the laid-back Pennington works at
the campus radio station and has done play-by-play broadcasts of
men's and women's basketball. He also worked for the student
newspaper last spring.
If life takes a wrong turn and he's unable to pursue an NFL
career, Pennington's already got a pretty good idea of what he'll
be doing down the country road.
He dreams of someday owning a marina along an 824-mile lake
where his parents live near La Follette, Tenn. The family owns a
pontoon and a bass boat where he spends his summers kicking back
and waiting for a tug on his fishing line.
"It's a way for me to get away from everything," he said. "I
don't have to think about football. Anytime I get a chance to, I
like to take advantage of it."
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