Most Recent Posts
- D.J. Eliot understands coach Mark Stoops “very well” can bring new ideas to UK defense
- Swiss Cat Part 2: Larry continues his adventure in Switzerland
- Brumbaugh understands junior college talent, feels he can bring JUCO players to UK
- Volleyball training, personality will both help Marcus Lee at Kentucky
- UK coach Mark Stoops was patient with Neal Brown because he was “all-in” on hiring him
- UK signee Marcus Lee overcame early education struggles to succeed in academics, athletics
- No. 12 Kentucky and No. 5 Arizona State to start best-of-three NCAA Super Regional set Saturday at 10 p.m. ET
- Stoops: Hiring Neal Brown to run Kentucky offense was a “no-brainer for me”
By LARRY VAUGHT
He was not highly recruited during his high school career in Knoxville. Actually, he was not recruited by any Division I-A schools and only ended up getting a chance to play at Marshall because he went to a summer camp there.
“I played freshman year and then redshirted my next year. I was not highly recruited. How I got to Marshall was luck. I wasn’t recruited by any I-A schools. I had a fairy tale career and just a great experience at Marshall,” said Chad Pennington.
He turned that “fairy tale career” at Marshall into a memorable NFL career with the New York Jets and Miami Dolphins. Now Pennington and his family have settled in Woodford County.
“I don’t miss getting hit. I miss the grind as far as the preparation and getting ready for game day. I do miss that because there is a certain structure and sense of anticipation that goes along with that is pretty exciting,” Pennington said. “My goal was never to be an NFL player. It was a dream, but not a goal. Your goals have to be smaller and you have to pay attention to the smaller steps. It started to hit me a little bit that I had an opportunity to possibly get drafted going into my senior year. After my senior year and going into the combine process, it started to hit me I could be drafted and be drafted relatively high. But never in a million years did I think about going on and playing 11 years like I did.”
He knows the fine line between a long career like he had and one that was much shorter like former Kentucky standout Tim Couch, the first pick in the 1999 NFL draft, had. Pennington was the first quarterback picked in 2000 with the 18th selection. Couch threw for 11,131 yards and 64 scores in five seasons and led Cleveland to a 9-7 record and playoff berth in 2002. However, he suffered a variety of injuries and despite several comeback attempts did not play in another game after the 2003 season.
Pennington threw for 17,823 yards and 102 scores in 11 seasons, but twice won the NFL Comeback Player of the Year award for overcoming injuries.
“We are basically the same age. I had to deal with injuries like Tim did. You have got to have a little luck on your side to last like I did,” Pennington said. “You have got to prepare. You have to seize the opportunity. People really don’t realize how competitive and tough it is to stay in the NFL. Every day somebody is coming after your job and every day you are having to prove yourself. You are having to fight off injuries and deal with all those things.
“The average career is 3 1/2 years. People don’t realize that. It is not even a career. It is must a moment in time. You really can’t make a career out of it because when you get out you are probably in your late 20’s or 30’s and have a lot more time to live hopefully. So you have to have a plan. I know Tim just a little. We played against each other once or twice, but not in depth. He obviously had talent, and a lot of talent. He was really a good player.”