The N.C. State redshirt sophomore switched from jersey quantity 26 to six, the quantity he wore in highschool. Perhaps Pennix needed to get again to his highschool mode, the place he starred at close by Sanderson as a featured again, dashing for 3,039 profession yards and 35 touchdowns for the Spartans.
During his four-year prep profession he was greater than only a harmful working again. Pennix additionally caught 48 passes for 648 yards and completed his senior season with 1,694 all-purpose yards.
It was that versatility that allowed the Wolfpack coaches to examine the right position for Pennix as soon as he arrived on campus. The N.C. State workers hasn’t used Pennix within the backfield a lot, despite the fact that he’s all the time been listed as a working again. In 24 profession video games, Pennix has carried the ball simply 36 occasions, his dashing makes an attempt declining every year. But it’s all a part of the plan.
Pennix has discovered the tip zone thrice, all landing receptions, exhibiting the power to be a harmful move catching possibility out of the backfield. He’s additionally paid his dues on particular groups, exhibiting he’ll do no matter it takes to assist the staff.
When the Wolfpack performs its annual Kay Yow spring sport at 1 p.m. on Saturday, it is going to be the primary full have a look at Pennix in a brand new quantity, but in addition flourishing in a brand new position. Fans noticed flashes of it final season with Pennix lining up in a fullback/H-back place. He may even be within the combine to fill the void left by departing tight ends Cary Angeline and Dylan Autenrieth.
So how did the coaches sway a former working again, who was ranked thirty seventh within the nation at his place, that he most likely wouldn’t get many carries as soon as he arrived on campus? It was easy, they only needed to say one title.
“The coaches told me I could potentially be like J-Sam,” Pennix informed the News & Observer. “And have the same role as he did. Over the years I’ve showed the coaches I’m ready to be in that spot.”
N.C. State followers — and ACC opponents — know all about Jaylen Samuels, AKA J-Sam.
Currently a member of the Pittsburgh Steelers, Samuels was a working again in highschool and spent his first season with the Wolfpack within the backfield. One look on the N.C. State report guide exhibits that Samuels is the profession receptions chief on the college (202 catches for 1,855 yards).
That quantity makes him the all-time profession chief in receptions by a decent finish. Three of the highest single-season tight finish receiving information all belong to Samuels (2016, 17, 18). Not unhealthy for a man who rushed for 1,107 yards and 28 touchdowns in his profession.
Samuels, who has been strictly used as a working again within the NFL was merely a soccer participant at N.C. State. For the upcoming yr, Pennix hopes to fill that very same void.
This spring he’s bounced around completely different place group assembly rooms, spending most of his time with the tight ends, however moonlighting within the working backs room, his important dwelling the previous three seasons.
Pennix has discovered extra success catching the ball (165 profession receiving yards, 3 TDs,) than working (125 yards, 0 TDs) for N.C. State, and together with his measurement (6-3, 236) and willingness to dam, it appeared like the right time for Pennix to transition to his new position.
He stated he by no means acquired annoyed with the dearth of carries and was prepared to get on the sector on particular groups. Pennix needed to assist the staff any manner he might. Lots of people say that and it sounds good, however Pennix actually took it to coronary heart and accepted his position.
“My main role is not even to worry about me,” Pennix stated. “But to help the team progress and go forward instead of backwards.”
The workers introduced Pennix alongside progressively the previous three seasons and he’s utilizing this spring to get higher acquainted with the H-back position. Head coach Dave Doeren sees Pennix as a mixture of not solely Samuels, but in addition former tight finish/H-back Cole Cook.
“I think Trent is going to, you’re going to see his position kind of change,” Doeren stated. “To give us some flexibility in personnel.”
With working backs Bam Knight and Ricky Person, Jr. out for spring drills nobody would have blamed Pennix for attempting to concentrate on the working again spot and make the most of these further obtainable reps. He’s gotten some touches the previous few weeks, however that’s turn into second on his precedence listing behind studying the tight finish and H-back spot.
“I’m meeting with the tight ends everyday, perfecting my craft everyday,” Pennix stated. “I feel like those (guys) are really helping me get comfortable with the tight end position.”
Even moonlighting as a decent finish requires some blocking. One factor about former tight ends like Cook and Autenrieth is that they performed an enormous half within the run sport. Pennix did extra route working than blocking from the H-back/fullback spot a yr in the past, however hopes to assist out doing the soiled work moving ahead.
“I’m still trying to maintain working with my hands, being inside and understanding the full fundamentals of run blocking,” Pennix added.
Part of that’s watching Samuels movie to see the intangibles he dropped at the sport.
“With him his explosiveness, his grit attitude,” Pennix stated. “He never let anything get in his way. Any situation the coaches put him in I knew he could do his job just by his demeanor and the way he carried himself on the field.”
As a man who acquired 500 carries in highschool, Pennix admitted he misses getting the ball usually.
“It would be lovely to get the ball (more),” Pennix stated with a smile. “But like I said earlier, I’m just doing whatever helps the team.”
Pennix acquired 22 carries in 4 video games in 2018, 13 in 2019 and one in 2020. In lots of circumstances a participant would switch, looking for out extra carries elsewhere. Pennix, who all the time felt he had a much bigger position coming, by no means as soon as considered leaving N.C. State.
“I didn’t really think about all that negativity,” Pennix stated. “I go in every practice thinking it’s a game and hope the coaches realize my intentions of staying and helping this team are real. I’m really loyal to this program and there’s really no other program I would want to play with.”