Former Jets and Dolphins quarterback Chad Pennington was the keynote speaker at an Austin Peay football clinic Thursday at the Riverview Inn.
For former New York Jets and Miami Dolphins quarterback Chad Penngington, Tennessee will always remain home.
And thats a good thing for Austin Peay head coach Rick Christophel.
Nearly two decades after starring at Webb School, the Knoxville native returned to the Volunteer State as the keynote speaker at Austin Peays offensive football clinic held at the Riverview Inn Thursday night.
Speaking to a meeting room full of high school and college coaches, Pennington delivered his offensive football clinic titled, Forget Stats, Just Execute while also sharing insight into his 11-year NFL career.
Quarterback is such a tough position to play, Pennington said. Ultimately you are purely judged on wins and losses. It takes a special type of player to be able to accept that challenge.
In addition to tales and revelations about his background (Penningtons first love was basketball and he was held back in the eighth grade), the two-time NFL Comeback Player of the Year also offered some technical quarterback advice.
(For instance, never line up on your toes to take a snap. It forces you to throw using nothing using your arm strength only not your core and could lead to arm or elbow injuries.)
There are lots of great throwers and even some great passers, Pennington said. We could find guys off the street that throw farther and harder than I can. But being a quarterback isnt just about throwing hard.
Penningtons appearance was set up in part because of the relationship his father longtime Knoxville-area coach Elwood Pennington shares with Govs linebackers coach Gary Shephard, who spent 11 seasons as head coach at Halls High School.
Ive known Chad since he was a little kid, Shephard said. Both he and his father are two of the classiest individuals Ive ever had the chance to work with.
After spending the 2011 season as an analyst for Fox Sports, the 35-year-old veteran spoke like he had been delivering speeches for years despite Thursdays offer being his first one.
Whenever the opportunity arises I try and jump on it, Pennington said of his first foray into football seminars. Id worked a lot of camps before. If somebodys looking for pointers or looking for me to share my experiences, Im happy to do it.
In addition to his thoughts on mechanics, delivery and mentality of what goes into making a successful quarterback, Pennington also spoke of his times as a member of the Jets and the Dolphins.
Bill Parcells and the Jets drafted me in 2000, Pennington said. Eight years later, (Parcells) was the VP of Football Operations with the Dolphins. And he was still telling me to work on the same things he told me when I was with New York.
And with recruiting sites like Rivals, Scout and 247Sports dramatically changing the prep and college football landscape, Pennington said quarterbacks must be able to be a leader both on and off the field now more than ever.
(A quarterback) has to have a different mindset both on and off the field, Pennington said while reflecting back to one of Parcells speeches. You cant be out clowning around and causing trouble with your teammates. Clowns dont lead football teams.
With his professional career essentially over, Pennington has begun to shift his focus more toward developing younger professionals (Most recently working with Chiefs quarterback Brady Quinn) and possible draft picks (LSU QB Jordan Jefferson and Monmouth QB Alex Tanney are among this years NFL Draft prospects that Pennington has worked with).
And while he and his family still reside in southern Florida, Pennington said that he and his family (Pennington also doubles as a flag football coach for two of his three sons) ultimately plan on returning to the East Tennessee region perhaps as a high school football coach.
I know the hours that the pro and high school guys put in, Pennington said. And with my boys I just dont see that happening. Possibly one day at the high school level.
Fusing a rare mixture of technical advice and professional experience, Pennington appeared to be a tremendous hit among the coaches in attendance.
I thought he did an outstanding job, Christophel said. We could not have asked for a better speaker. When youve done what hes done, you have to listen. We were really excited with our turnout.
About Hank Bonecutter
Hank Bonecutter is a forty-year journalist, radio personality, producer, writer and media consultant.
He is the President of Bonehead Promotions, an events and media consulting company.
He owns www.clarksvillesportsnetwork.com and www.nashvillesportsnetwork.com
Hank is the former owner of WJZM-AM radio in Clarksville, TN., having produced the longest running morning talk show in Clarksville, “The Bone Show.”
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