‘One Thing That Stands Out Is Leadership’| Three-Star QB Cole Pennington Follows His Dad Chad’s NFL Footsteps & Signs With Marshall

The last name Pennington resonates pretty heavily in Marshall Thundering Herd football lore. Chad Pennington is arguably the greatest quarterback the program in Huntington, West Virginia, has ever produced. The former NFL veteran still holds the all-time career passing yardage mark at the school and places second in attempts, completions, completion percentage, touchdown passes, passing yards per game and passing efficiency (Thank You Randy Moss).


Never blessed with a powerful arm, his intelligence, leadership and moxie were on full display during Pennington’s 1999 season. It was one for the ages, as he led the unheralded Thundering Herd to a perfect 13-0 record and a final No.10 ranking. That season Pennington was named Mid-American Player of the Year, Sammy Baugh Award winner as the nation’s top passer, and a finalist for the Heisman Trophy.

For his efforts he was selected in the first round of the 2000 NFL draft by the New York Jets. He enjoyed a solid 11-year career with the Jets and Miami Dolphins. He was as resilient as it gets, twice being named NFL Comeback Player of the Year. Pennington’s noted accuracy and decision-making are reflected in him being a two-time NFL completion percentage leader.

Chad’s son Cole signed with his dad’s alma mater during last week’s early signing period after verbally committing to them over the summer.

Cole played for his dad at Sayre High School and decided he wanted to continue the Pennington legacy at Marshall.

“Throughout the recruiting process, I have met some amazing people while visiting some great universities,” Cole told reporters. “To be a college student-athlete has always been a dream of mine. Thank you Coach Huff, Coach Cramsey, and the rest of Marshall Football Staff for giving me this opportunity to say I’m 100% committed to Marshall University!!! Go Herd!!!”

Pennington Makes It Official During The Early Signing Period. Dad And Coach Are Elated

Last Wednesday Cole Pennington became the first player in Sayre High School history to earn and sign a Division I scholarship. In two seasons the talented three-star gunslinger passed for more than 4,000 yards and 47 touchdowns while completing 70 percent of his passes. He also showed his dual-threat ability in rushing for nine scores. Pennington is a true student-athlete who also carries a cumulative 3.9 GPA. His brains plus his athletic ability had him also receive scholarship offers from Akron, Ball State, Eastern Kentucky and Tennessee-Martin.

“I’m in a key position as a coach and dad today,” said Cole’s Dad/Coach Chad Pennington. “First as a coach, speaking on Cole, one thing that stands out is leadership. What he’s been able to do helping to start this program. From the time he was little he wanted to play college football and he put his faith and trust in us to make that happen. The bond he created with his Spartan football brothers in football.
“I can remember like it was yesterday when Cole came to me and said he wanted to play college football. I remember his first evaluation. He was 6-foot-1 and 177 pounds. He had to run around in the shower to get wet. It was going to take a lot of dedication and hard work. The last year and a half he has grown. I’m impressed with his humility. His teammates have sacrificed a lot for him. They’ve done this together, and his mom and I are so proud.”

Pennington Is Highest-Rated QB In Marshall 2022 Class

The Thundering Herd signed three quarterbacks during this class, with Pennington ranking the highest of the three. Cole is the 67th-ranked quarterback in the entire 2022 recruiting class.

When you watch Cole play, he’s reminiscent of his dad Chad as far as mechanics and footwork go. One noticeable difference is arm strength, which Chad never really had much of, but Cole does. Cole is also accurate and cerebral in and around the pocket, a lot like dad.

As a legacy player for the Thundering Herd, one has to figure Cole will be given ample opportunities to be the starting QB at some point during his time in Huntington. His dad was really good, and that’s a lot of pressure to live up to.

Legacy Days 

Pennington was one of seven former NFL players who had sons sign to play college football in the last week. The others include future Hall of Famer Antonio Gates, Hall of Famer Edgerrin James, Donald Driver, Josh McCown, Hall of Famer Jason Taylor, and Rodney Harrison.

Their sons are joining Michigan State, Howard, Penn State, Colorado, LSU, and Tennessee, respectively.

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