Mike Penn Makes Gopher Visit

Mike Penn, a 6-foot-3, 215-pound wide receiver from Minneapolis Southwest who attended every Minnesota home football game last year, visited with head coach Tim Brewster yesterday. Penn signed with Northern Iowa, but has yet to be cleared by the NCAA Clearinghouse. Penn told GoldenSports.Net that he is back in the Twin Cities with the hopes of playing football and attending college soon.

Mike Penn caught 24 passes for 648 yards in 2005 with seven receiving touchdowns and 10 overall scores. He helped lead the Lakers to a 3-6 mark, a big improvement for a team that had failed to win a game the three previous seasons. Penn had six receptions for 168 yards and two touchdowns in their season opener versus Minneapolis Roosevelt and had eight receptions for 195 yards and three scores against Minneapolis Washburn in week five.

Unfortunately, Penn was not eligible to play, due to Minnesota State High School League rules last year, but that did not stop Minnesota from showing him plenty of interest.

Penn spent two weeks at Southwest as a freshman before moving to Indianapolis (IN) Broad Ripple. However, he admits that he missed most of the school year. He moved back to Minnesota, where his mother lives and was talked into playing on the football field, where he shined.

Penn said that he was thankful for the opportunity to be recruited by Northern Iowa, whom he signed with in February.

"A lot of schools told me that I would not qualify," he said. "They told me something different. I got out there and worked out with them from June 2 until the end of July. They kept telling me that is was going to be cleared and then finally said, 'You have not been cleared.'"

Penn said that he and Mark Ellis of Game Speed Football Academy visited with Coach Tim Brewster yesterday. Penn has been working out with Ellis, a former Vikings assistant since returning from Northern Iowa. Ellis works out several talented high school players in the area.

"We meet with Coach Brewster and talked to an academic counselor. They want to check out my clearinghouse status. It was the first time that I had met him. We had spoken earlier and arranged a meeting," Penn said.

He had planned to take summer school classes at Northern Iowa but failed to get Clearinghouse approval.

"I had planned on taking classes in the July session, but they kept pushing it back," he said.

Penn said that Northern Iowa is still in the mix, if he gains his eligibility.

"UNI is still an option. They gave me a chance when no one else would."

He also said that he might take classes at a local junior college along with working on preparing for the season.

"I might take classes at Normandale. I'm signed up for a computer class and a physical education class. I can't take more than 11 credits," Penn said.

However, if he gets cleared by the NCAA Clearinghouse, he could be attending a four-year school this fall. He is expected to get a final answer in the next three weeks.

Penn also played on the basketball team in 2005, where he averaged 9.2 points per game as he led the Lakers to a 9-16 mark.

Penn had been voted a team captain for his senior season. However, the High School League allows students only eight consecutive semesters of eligibility, so his missing school as a freshman caused him to lose this year of eligibility.

Penn previously told GoldenSports.net that it was tough to sit out his senior season.

"It's really hard. I watch every game and wish that I could be out on the field, helping my teammates," he said at the time. "It hurts me every time."

Penn heard from Minnesota, Wisconsin, Northern Iowa, Air Force and Iowa State, as well as junior colleges such as North Dakota School of Science and Georgia Military in case of his grades.

Penn said that he has worked hard on his grades after missing so much school early in his high school career.

Penn attended classes at W.L.C. and the Uptown Academy last year.

He attended the Wisconsin football camp last summer, but missed the Minnesota camp, due to a school final.

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