HighSchoolOT On The Trail

Sanderson's Pennix excited to run with the Pack

Posted June 14
Updated June 15

Trent Pennix (6) of Sanderson High School.  Sanderson High School travels to Millbrook High School with 2 weeks left in the regular season.  Millbrook could not stop the running game of Sanderson and lost 14 to 28.


Photo by:  Suzie Wolf

— Standout running back Trent Pennix will stay in Raleigh to join NC State following his senior season at Sanderson.

Pennix announced his commitment to the Wolfpack Friday on Twitter, making the decision to stay in state rather than taking his talents to his second choice, Virginia Tech.

The Hokies heavily recruited Pennix, but staying close to friends and family put the Wolfpack atop the list.

“I had to think about my family, how much access they had to me,” Pennix said. “Virginia Tech is three hours away from my family; I wouldn’t see them as much as I want to.”

Other suitors to extend Pennix scholarships included Akron, Appalachian State, Boston College, UNC-Charlotte, Coastal Carolina, Colorado State, East Carolina, Georgia Southern, Georgia State, Louisville, Marshall, Maryland, Minnesota, Ohio University, Old Dominion, Purdue, Virginia Tech and Wake Forest.

NC State offered Pennix on April 28.

Pennix, who grew up in Raleigh as a Wolfpack fan, said having the chance to play for the team he watched as a child makes his choice even more special.

“When I was little I would come to the games, and now I’m finally being a recruit and going through the process – getting all the information from Debbie Yow and talking to [Dave] Doeren,” Pennix said. “I also felt a great relationship with all the coaches on the football team, and I also know a few players on the football team as well."

Pennix led Sanderson last season in both rushing and receiving, tallying a team-high 1,538 all-purpose yards.

The standout Spartan tallied 167 carries for 1,215 yards rushing and 12 touchdowns, and 11 catches for 225 receiving yards and two scores in his junior campaign.

Pennix averaged 7.3 yard per carry and 110.5 yards rushing per contest. He also averaged 23.2 yards per catch.

The multi-faceted Pennix led the Spartans in the return game as well, averaging 22 yards per kickoff and 18.7 yards on punt returns.

Pennix has been able to contribute from multiple positions in high school, but where he will line up in the college ranks has been a question mark during his recruiting process.

But after speaking with NC State’s coaching staff, Pennix said it appears his multi-faceted skills will be shuffled around the Wolfpack offense, much like the Red & White Swiss Army knife Jaylen Samuels.

“Doeren himself told me that I’ll be playing a lot at different positions,” Pennix said. “Running back to start off with, and then he said ‘wherever my body leads me to,’ that’s where he’ll fit me. I’ll pretty much be an offensive athlete with them moving me around.”

NC State hosted Pennix for a visit on May 12, along with Sanderson defensive end Alim McNeill, Clayton wide receiver Devin Carter and Heritage running back Ricky Person.

Person committed on Jan 18, and Carter pledged his commitment while on the visit in May.

Pennix said the experience of having some of the top talent in the Triangle together on the visit was a unique and important piece of his recruitment.

“Knowing Devin committed on that day, that made me even more motivated to get more involved with State,” he said. “Just hanging out with them and getting a feel for the coaches, it was just a fun day.”

McNeill, ranked among the top senior defensive ends in North Carolina, is still contemplating where he will commit, but that hasn’t stopped Pennix from trying to keep his Spartan teammate in Raleigh.

“He’s like my closest best friend; I’ve known him ever since we were young,” Pennix said. “After I committed, Doeren said ‘now you have to help me recruit, especially with your boy Alim,’ so I’ve been on him really hard.”

Pennix said NC State is one of McNeill’s top choices, but even he doesn’t know where the standout defensive end will commit at this point in his recruitment.

“It’s just between him and his family, but I hope he comes to State as well,” Pennix said.

Pennix has completed one of the ultimate goals for of a high school football player – securing a scholarship at a Power 5 conference – but the Spartan said he would not take a back seat in his senior season.

“You just have to keep working,” Pennix said. “Working hard on and off the field, especially in the weight room getting myself prepared for the next level next year.”

Trent Pennix Highlights

For the latest Triangle-area high school football recruiting updates, follow Jon Stout on Twitter.

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