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Penningtons produce passing prodigies

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NFL star, father host annual football camp at Knoxville Webb

By Dwane Wilder

Footballs filled the air earlier this week during the annual Pennington Football Camp hosted by Miami Dolphins quarterback Chad Pennington and his father Elwood at Webb School of Knoxville.

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Approximately 75 boys in grades 8-12 attended the three-day camp, which is geared specifically for quarterbacks and receivers. Percentage-wise, Campbell County was as well represented as anyone, with two high school players and half a dozen middle schoolers participating.

The elder Pennington started the camp in 1993 when Chad was a high school junior at Webb. Back then it was known as the Lock Haven Run-and-Shoot Camp. As Chad grew up and developed into a Heisman trophy candidate and future NFL first round draft pick, the camp eventually came to be known as the Pennington Football Camp.

“The most rewarding part of this is to see the kids that have been to camp year after year…just to see them progress as their body develops,” said Chad.

“When you see them put into motion all they have learned, it’s really fun to watch.”

Chad can see a little bit of himself in the boys that attend the Pennington Camp. Though not heavily recruited as a lanky 6-foot-2, 175 lb. high school senior, Chad signed with NCAA Division I-AA Marshall University after being discovered during the Thundering Herd’s summer football camp.

After arriving at Marshall, Chad grew an inch or so and put on over 50 lbs. He eventually progressed into a top NFL prospect and finished fifth in the 1999 Heisman trophy race.

“Some of them will play college ball,” Chad said of the boys attending his camp.

“Two or three years ago, they were so green you didn’t know them. Now, two or three years later, they are beginning to come into their own.”

Chad’s 11-year pro football career is currently on hold as he continues to rehab from an ACL injury. The NFL’s two-time Comeback Player of the Year turned 35 last month and has signed on with Fox Sports to work as a color analyst for the 2011 football season. 

He started all 16 regular season games in 2008 for the Dolphins and passed for over 3,600 yards and 19 touchdowns against only 7 interceptions. His league-leading completion percentage of 67.4 set a new franchise record that year.

The past two seasons, Chad has played sparingly because of a nagging shoulder injury.

“I’m just going to try and get healthy, and then see what happens,” said Chad.

“My head says ‘play’, while my body says ‘no’. It’s 50/50 right now.

“My main job is to make sure I’m a good dad and husband to my family.”