PUEBLO, Colo. – After a solid 2013 senior season with the Colorado State University-Pueblo ThunderWolves, 6-foot-5, 363-pound defensive tackle Mike Pennel (Aurora, Colo.) has been invited to compete in the National Football League Combine, which begins Saturday in Indianapolis.
He is the only Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference player to receive an invitation to try to impress NFL player personnel staff in advance of the upcoming 2014 NFL Draft to be held May 8-10.
His workouts will be held Monday (Feb. 24), when defensive linemen and linebackers take center stage. Coverage of the 4-day combine, which runs through Tuesday (Feb. 25), will be shown live on the NFL Network and fans can follow the combine on www.nfl.com.
"It feels good and is allowing me to take a step in the right direction," said Pennel, who has been training in Phoenix.
"I was blessed to play well enough to get an invite to the combine," he added. "Being from a small school, it really means something to be picked."
"We're very proud of Mike. He has grown up here and was a joy to be around," Pack head coach John Wristen said.
In his lone season with the ThunderWolves after transferring from Division I Arizona State, Pennel made 36 tackles, including three sacks while earning D2Football.com honorable mention all-America honors and First Team All-RMAC accolades. He also picked up third team all-region honors from Don Hansen's Football Gazette and was a second team All-Colorado pick by the National Football Foundation-Colorado Chapter.
In the process, Pennel helped the ThunderWolves to their third straight Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference title, their third straight 11-0 regular season and their third straight NCAA Division II playoff appearance. The Pack also finished seventh in the final American Football Coaches Association (AFCA) Coaches' Poll and were ranked ninth in the final D2Football.com poll.
When asked about the team success and how that would potential help him at the professional level, Pennel said, "It takes you through the process of being great. It shows you how to take care of the little things you need to."
"I'm just excited to showcase my skills and be on the same platform as the other top players. It will be quite an experience of being on TV. Now I just have to perform under the lights," he said.
"I think whoever is going to get him will get one heck of a kid and a real good football player. His best football is in front of him," Wristen commented.
A native of Aurora, Pennel was a graduate of Grandview High School before beginning his collegiate career at Scottsdale Community College in Scottsdale, Ariz. He was a 2011 junior college all-American and went to Arizona State as a highly regarded junior college recruit. In his lone season with the Pac-12's Sun Devils, he played in five games, recording four tackles.