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Who the Hell is This Mike Pennel Character?

Mike Pennel

Defensive tackle Mike Pennel is making the Green Bay Packers roster this season.

What? Who?

Yeah, exactly. Here’s another guy who’s come out of nowhere to impress this preseason. Unlike some of the other no-name guys we’ve looked at up to this point, Pennel appears to have a roster spot secured.

That’s pretty amazing considering the route he took to get here.

Pennel was, of course, an undrafted free agent signing this year. Pretty soon, the entire Green Bay Packers roster will be made up of undrafted free agents. Or undrafted free agents and Aaron Rodgers, anyway.

It’s pretty obvious why Pennel wasn’t drafted. The dreaded: character issues.

Also, he played his final year of college football at Colorado-State Pueblo. 

Where? Exactly.

Pennel never finished high school and ended up getting a GED. He spent his first two collegiate years playing for Scottsdale Community College. As a junior, Pennel got into Arizona State, played in five games and then promptly got suspended twice in the course of a month.

He never played another game for the Sun Devils.

Pennel transfered to Colorado-State Pueblo, a Division II program, for his senior season. 

I bet you’re thinking he dominated the competition there? Well, not really.

In 2013, Pennel had 36 tackles, including six for loss and three sacks, and three forced fumbles.

Those numbers are decent, but far from dominant.

You know what though? You can’t teach size.

Pennel is 6-4, 332, so he was going to get an NFL shot. It now looks like the Packers are fortunate to be the team that gave him that shot.

In college, it’s pretty clear that Pennel had maturity issues mixed in with a bit of Jay Cutler Disease — dooooooooooon’t caaaaaaaaaaaaare.

Now he’s faced with the cold, hard fact that if he doesn’t dedicate himself to the game, that dream is going to be over and he’ll be just another fat ass taking up a whole booth at McDonald’s crying onto a soggy Big Mac.

Reality is often a great motivator.

So we’ve given Pennel a roster spot and the Packers probably did the same when they shipped Jerel Worthy to the Patriots. The only remaining question appears to be how much playing time Pennel will get.

It could be substantial. The Packers brought in Letroy Guion in the offseason to be B.J. Raji’s backup at nose tackle. Well, in true Packers fashion, he showed up a with a hamstring injury and hasn’t played a snap in training camp.

Unless Guion gets on the field soon and starts disrupting everything, he probably isn’t even going to make the final roster. You know Raji isn’t an every-down player.

That puts Pennel right there in the rotation.

Monty McMahon

Monty McMahon is one of the founders of Total Packers. He is probably the most famous graduate of UW-Oshkosh next to Jim Gantner.



  1. GBslacker August 17, 2014

    If you PUP a player during the regular season, do you guarantee their entire year’s salary?

    I wonder if Guion is worth it?

    I read where they like his versatility to play nose or end, which Pennel may not provide.

  2. Mike B. August 17, 2014

    Being an alumni of CSU Pueblo, I take huge offense to many of your assumptions. Your story literally makes an attempt to discredit Mike Pennel, while at the same time being moderately grateful that he lucked out and got on your roster. You made no reference to some of his greatest hurdles in his life, which includes kidney cancer as a child and growing up with a single parent.

    egarding his suspension from ASU. Sometimes you have to look at both sides of the story when you talking about a player’s suspension from a team. When a head coach like Todd Graham actually gets obsessed with picking at a player with an attitude and egging him on, you have to wonder how that same coach once called Pennel a type of football player that only comes around every 20 years. Even some of Pennel’s former Sun devil teammates said that graham and the coaching staff used to go out of their way to pick at Pennel.

    Regarding Pennel’s numbers at CSU Pueblo. The CSU Pueblo Football program is an NCAA division II powerhouse, but what’s really astonishing is the fact that CSUP dissolved their football program in 1985 and restored it just six years ago in 2008. Pennel joined the Thunderwolves out of shape and overweight. He also joined a team that already had an incredibly talented defensive line. As a result, Pennel didn’t play every defensive down and rotated with another player. It should be noted that last year Pennel’s roommate, defensive lineman Darius Allen, won the 2013 Gene Upshaw Award that goes to the top lineman in all of division II football. The Thunderwolves made it to the Division II national championship play-offs and finished the season in the top 10; just a few spots below Saginaw Valley, which is the team Jeff Janis played for last year.

    Finally, Mike Pennel got invited by the NFL to participate in the NFL combine, so no one should be wondering how he got where he is today.

    Why don’t you support the guy for maturing and reaching his ultimate goals through a whole lot of adversity, instead of dragging him through the mud?

    1. Cheese August 17, 2014

      Welcome to totalpackers.com!

    2. Howard August 17, 2014

      It may not appear to be so but I thought Monty was showing Pennel some love. The good thing is Pennel will make the team and that for now is the next step to reaching his goals.

    3. BZ in BA August 18, 2014

      The fact that he even had an article written about him means that Monty was showing quite a bit of love. That said, I think that you provided some good additional information that I am glad to have received – thanks for sharing.

    4. Arcturus August 18, 2014

      Not sure how you see this as “dragging through the mud”, Mrs. Pennel.

  3. Howard August 17, 2014

    I believe Guion is on the non football injury list. If a player is on the non football injury list the team does not have to pay the players salary until activated. If a player is on the PUP the team does have to pay the players salary. It is my understanding most teams do pay a player on the non football injury list even though they are not obligated to do so.

    It may be a good option to keep another big body (Guion) on the reserve list even though I think Guion is gone. I think with Peppers and Neil who have the ability to play D line we will only keep six. Raji, Boyd, Thornton, Jones, Daniels, and Pennel.

    1. GBslacker August 17, 2014

      From what I’ve learned, the NFI is the similar to PUP: if Guion is on it, starting the regular season, he wouldn’t be able to return until week 6, and at that point the team would have 3 weeks to make a decision.

      I wonder if the Packers would activate him during the pre-season — there are only six practices remaining! I don’t think they would throw him into a game, with no “padded” conditioning?

      From a “fan” perspective, it’s hard to get a feel — but seems like they could stash a known commodity, without it counting against the 53 man roster.

  4. Howard August 17, 2014

    It does give us an option to keep a big lineman without any effect on the 53 for almost half the season. As they say you can never have enough big guys. You are correct it makes no sense to activate Guion at this point unless it is done tomorrow and that may not even make sense. I would be sure that Guion does not want to damage the hamstring coming back to early since this is kind of a contract year. Your idea makes sense and could benefit both parties.

  5. Donna Wolter August 17, 2014

    Thanks Mike B. for some insight. I get sick of the assumptions made by some people. Super excited for this kid!

    1. Savage57 August 18, 2014

      There’s one assumption not being made here. Playing against the 3’s is nothing like playing against the 1’s.

      Let’s hope he takes what he’s shown playing at the ‘am I going to have a job level’ and elevates it to playing at the ‘I got this shit’ level.

  6. Garth August 17, 2014

    Mike P., very good post. I read that Pennell survived Wilm’s tumor as a child which can be pretty wicked. He got into a bad situation at ASU, some of which he contributed to himself. But if you get on the coach’s shit list, you can’t win for losing. He was smart to get out of ASU. Sounds like he’s grown up quite a bit, and much like Johnny Jolly, we will all be cheering for him. I love guys like this. And I don’t think he just makes the roster, I think if his mind is made up, he’s going to be a major, major contributor. Kudos to our SW scout (I think Alonzo Highsmith is still our guy in the SW). We have basically no pro scouting department, but you can tell that TT takes his collegiate scouting pretty seriously, right down the line at these small schools. Go Mike Pennell. Be a great Green Bay Packer. Help our defense make us a Super Bowl winner.

  7. [email protected] August 18, 2014

    Got to see Pennel play on Saturday against the hapless Lams offense, & he was definitely a bright spot!

    Hope he makes the roster & makes some noise ON the field.

    GO PACK GO!!!

  8. Jerry K. August 18, 2014

    You got to be one of the funniest sports writers going right now. That little scenario about the Mc Donalds booth was hilarious. Keep me laughing and for the great reporting.

  9. John Denver's Gavel August 18, 2014

    He has a tattoo of Mr Peanut on his left arm. That in its self should be enough to sway the front office to keep this behemoth.

  10. Skinny August 18, 2014

    Pennel and Jayrone Elliot are in the running for the Vic Soto award this preseason. The award is given out to man beasts who everyone wonders why they weren’t drafted higher after the preseason, but then they mysteriously loose their ability once the regular season comes along.

  11. Howard August 18, 2014

    Not sure we have seen enough from Elliot at this time to issue an award one way or the other. Pennel has shown enough if he remains healthy to win an award but maybe just maybe it will be the Sam Shields, Tramon Williams or Jarrett Boykin award.

  12. Benny August 30, 2014

    CSU-Pueblo is actually one of the top DII schools in the nation