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BLOOMINGTON, Ind. — Indiana quarterback Michael Penix Jr., saying it's "time for a fresh start somewhere else,'' entered the NCAA's transfer portal on Sunday and plans on playing his 2022 college season elsewhere.

Penix, a heralded recruit out of Tampa, Fla., has spent four years in Bloomington and will graduate in May. He has played well and was a critical piece in the Hoosiers' resurgence in 2019 and 2020, but he also has had a career defined by injuries. He didn't finish any of his four seasons in Bloomington.

It was a difficult decision, he said, but it's also one that had to be made.

"I talked to Coach (Tom) Allen about it, and it's my decision,'' Penix said Sunday during a telephone interview. "Look, I'm a Hoosier, and I'll always be a Hoosier. I'm graduating in May and I have loved everything about playing for Coach Allen and being a part of this team. These are my brothers.

"But I just want a new start, a new beginning. I want to finish my college career the best way possible, and I think I need to do that somewhere else.''

Penix earned the starting job during his freshman year in 2018, but tore an ACL in his first start against Penn State and missed the remainder of the season. He won a training camp battle with Peyton Ramsey to start the 2019 season and played well, but missed some time early in the season with a shoulder strain and then was knocked out for good in early November with a fracture clavicle against Northwestern, and was lost for the season again.

He was spectacular in 2020 in leading the Hoosiers to a record-setting season that saw the school's first top-10 ranking in more than 50 years. The Hoosiers were ranked No. 7 in the country after a 4-0 start that included rare wins over Penn State, Michigan State and Michigan.

He gained national notoriety in the 2020 season opener against Penn State, stretching out on a dive just barely inside the pylon for a two-point conversion to give Indiana the victory.

He also threw for 491 yards and five touchdowns in Indiana's only loss, 42-35 at Ohio State to the team that would eventually lose in the national championship. It was the second-most yards in school history. 

But the following week, he tore his ACL for the second time in a win over Maryland, and was lost for the season. He spent eight months rehabbing trying to get ready for the 2021 season, but he was rusty and went just 2-2 in his first four starts this season. And on Oct. 2, he was brought down hard on a tackle at Penn State and separated the AC joint in his left throwing shoulder.

He wound up missing the rest of the season — and the Hoosiers never won another game, dropping eight games in a row.

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It's been frustrating that his career has been defined by the injuries, Penix said.

"It's been frustrating, very frustrating, because every time I got hurt these last couple of years, we had a lot of really great things happening,'' Penix said. "I'm very proud of what we accomplished on the field — (he was 14-6 in games in played in) — and I'll always have a lot of great memories.''

Penix said his shoulder is nearly 100 percent now, so he's looking forward to finding a new school soon so he can go through spring practice. 

"I've never had a spring where I've been able to practice from beginning to end since I first got here in 2018, so that's really important to me,'' Penix said. "I'm getting my body right now, and I want to be able to take advantage of this. I just feel like it's best for me to finish my college career somewhere else.''

Indiana's offense, which sets records in 2019 and 2020, was a mess this year, especially after Penix's injury. They averaged 39.7 points in their first four games of the season, but only 11.0 points afterward after Penix got hurt. 

Penix's backup, Jack Tuttle, got hurt as well, and the Hoosiers finished the season with true freshman Donaven McCulley and walk-on Grant Gremel playing during the eight-game losing streak. Offensive coordinator Nick Sheridan, who recruited Penix to Indiana, was fired at the end of the season.

Penix, who still has NFL aspirations, wants to continue to chase that dream. He's just going to do it elsewhere now.

"It's best if I can have a full season,'' Penix said. "I feel like it's real important that I can go into a spring somewhere feeling 100 percent and then starting a season in the fall where I'm at my best, too.

"I just signed the papers (Sunday), so I haven't talked to anyone yet, but I'm going to explore all of my options and see what's out there. I've loved it here at Indiana, and these four years will always be special to me.

"It's just time for a change. A fresh start can be a good thing sometimes, and I'm hoping that's the case for me.''

Prior to his injury in 2020, he led the conference in passing yardage, passing yardage per game, passing TDs, completions, attempts, 60-, 50-, 40-, and 30-yard passing plays, and he just the second Hoosier with three-straight 300-yard passing games in school history (Nate Sudfeld had three in 2015).

For his career, he passed for 4,197 yards with 29 touchdowns and 15 interceptions.