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The son of former Jets quarterback Chad Pennington has elected to follow in his father’s footsteps at Marshall University.

Three-star Lexington (K.Y.) Sayre School signal-caller Cole Pennington brought an end to his recruitment earlier this week, committing to Marshall over offers from Akron, Ball State, Eastern Kentucky and UT Martin.

The younger Pennington, who tossed 27 touchdown passes as a junior, is Marshall’s third quarterback commit of the 2022 recruiting cycle. He is the 67th-ranked quarterback recruit in his signing class and the 14th overall prospect in Kentucky, according to 247Sports.

The Jets picked Chad Pennington in the first round of the 2000 NFL draft following a prolific career at Marshall. He led the Thundering Herd to a perfect 13-0 season in 1999 and departed the program as its all-time leading passer.

His father’s status as a school legend drew Cole to Marshall, but what really put the Thundering Herd over the top for him was the way head coach Charles Huff went about recruiting him. From the moment he arrived on campus after a stint as running backs coach under Nick Saban at Alabama, Huff made it clear he wanted Cole for the quarterback he is and not the player his father was over two decades ago.

“One of the things that I wanted to make sure of was that a school was not recruiting me not because of who my Dad was and what he did,” Cole said in an interview with Grant Taylor of the Herald-Dispatch. “Were they recruiting me because of the type of person that I am, the type of player I am? Marshall was super clear that they were recruiting me for me, not Chad Pennington’s son, which I loved.”

Shortly after his son announced his commitment, Chad took to Twitter to offer his congratulations. His former Jets teammate, tight end Anthony Becht, also congratulated Cole.

Marshall kicks off its 2021 season on the road against Navy on Sept. 4. The Thundering Herd’s season opener will mark Huff’s first game as a head coach, as he replaces Doc Holliday after 11 years.


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