Eastern the right fit for Danville's Penix

February 01, 2004|LARRY VAUGHT

Even though Charles Penix ran for 268 yards and two touchdowns in Danville's Class A state championship game win over Beechwood, coach Sam Harp still thinks Penix is going to get even better in college.

"There's no doubt in my mind that his best football is ahead of him," said Harp. "He's still only 17, and I think he has some growing left in him. I think he'll be an outstanding college player."

Eastern Kentucky University's coaches certainly hope so, because Penix verbally committed to the Colonels last week. He will join running back Mark Dunn of Harrodsburg and linebacker Ian Young of Boyle County in signing with second-year Eastern coach Danny Hope this week.

Two other former area players - receiver Matt Miller of Boyle and tight end Patrick Bugg of Harrodsburg - are already on the Eastern roster.


Penix was out of town this weekend and unavailable for comment. However, Harp said it was not an easy decision for Penix.

"He really had a lot of things to consider, but there was just something about Eastern that he liked best," Harp said.

Penix rushed for 1,576 yards and 20 touchdowns on 151 carries, an average of 10.1 yards per carry, last season. He also caught six passes for 203 yards and three scores and returned 12 kickoffs for 352 yards and one touchdown. Penix also had four defensive touchdowns.

"He played a huge part in our success," Harp said. "He never complained about his role and just wanted to win. That attitude will help him at Eastern, too."

Harp says Eastern views Penix as an ideal outside linebacker because of his size, speed and instincts. However, he'll be given the option of playing offense.

Harp thinks he could excel on either side.

"I'm partial, but I think he's better on offense," the Danville coach said. "However, he could also be an outstanding linebacker because of his speed and range. He's also good in pass coverage because of his reads. Wherever they decide he fits best, he'll be fine."

The 215-pound Penix consistently runs the 40-yard dash in 4.6 seconds. He can also squat 450 pounds easily. Harp expects him to get bigger, stronger and faster in the next two years.

"He's improved tremendously the last two years, especially in his overall confidence in his own ability," Harp said. "His first two years, he wasn't always that confident in his own ability. That changed the last two years."

Western Kentucky, Indiana and Kentucky State were the other schools that recruited Penix the most.

"I think most coaches knew he probably would end up staying fairly close to home and most of the smaller schools didn't feel they had a shot at getting him," Harp said.

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