Clear Lake, IA
Newman Catholic High School
Northern Iowa Panthers
A dominant FCS prospect, Trevor Penning’s athleticism should afford him immediate value as a swing backup. What’s more, he has high-level starting potential at guard or tackle in any offensive scheme.
Penning possesses powerful hands that can uproot defenders. He plays in a calm and composed manner, his footwork is smooth. He isn’t the most athletic, free-moving guy but he showed enough competence to block in space. When defenders attack his chest well, he can regain his feet under his base to regain balance and lockout. Possesses a finisher’s mentality. Penning is extremely strong. He can hold off guys with only one arm. As an experienced player on the offensive line, he is clearly the leader of his unit with the way he communicates at the line of scrimmage. He deals with speed well as a pass protector. Penning shows crazy flexibility with the way he can bend in his stance pre-snap. His timing of the snap is reactive and has a solid first step down into the arch. He passes the length requirement to play offensive tackle at a high level. Plays with a high motor and never-ending leg drive. He has played the vast majority of his snaps at left tackle, with brief stints at right tackle and right guard.
As a run blocker, there is still much room for improvement. He sometimes leans or lunges into blocks which causes him to lose his balance. His first step isn’t much of anything special considering his size and length. In zone blocking schemes, his initial lateral reach is limited because he isn’t a great mover. There is still much room for improvement with his hand placement. He will either put them too high or not grip hard enough and makes it easy for defenders to get off the block when he is on the back foot. As a pass protector, he stands too upright which leads to him losing balance. Needs to play with better leverage and a wider base more consistently to get his best play. Feet are too slow at times to mirror late pass rushers off of stunts.
Trevor Penning is an extremely powerful, experienced offensive tackle for Northern Iowa. He was put on the map last year, playing alongside former third-round pick Spencer Brown. He is known for his size, length and raw power as a blocker. He shows unreal flexibility for a guy of his stature. In pass protection, he possesses the required first step and length to deal with pass rushers around the edge. He must work on playing with a more consistent play-to-play platform to improve balance and anchor ability. As a run blocker, he has a never-ending motor that can drive defenders up and out of his gap assignment.
Trevor Penning attended Newman Catholic High School in Iowa where he was a two-way player who weighed just 235 pounds and primarily played tight end. In addition, Penning was a team captain, he earned first-team all-district and all-area selection while also lettering in track and basketball. After high school, 247Sports did not rank him as a prospect.
Penning was not highly recruited and committed to Northern Iowa in 2017, where he redshirted his freshman year as he looked to gain muscle and transition to the offensive line. In 2018, Penning sparingly saw action in four games but remained patient and determined, getting up to 289 pounds. In 2019, he got his chance to start on the line and did so for all 15 games. In 2020, Penning started five games at left tackle and one game at right tackle. 2021 has been his best year yet, starting every game at left tackle for Northern Iowa and garnering first round buzz.
Penning’s journey from a scrawny two way player to a hulking left tackle is fascinating to watch. He landed on Bruce Feldman’s “Freak” list for 2021 due to his 83 ½-inch wingspan and for setting Northern Iowa’s squat record with two reps at 625 pounds. UNI head coach can attest to Penning’s hard work and the results that show for it, “He’s a guy that came in here underdeveloped and very skinny. Trevor started working when he was a freshman – he didn’t wait until his senior year. That’s a lot of years and a lot of time that he put into it. And now he’s getting the reward for all of the time he put in. He’s an excellent football player who really developed himself and worked hard to get where he’s at.” It’s clear Penning has the desire to be great, which is a trait not easily quantifiable but extremely valuable for NFL teams looking to roll the dice on a small school prospect.
Floor/Ceiling: Below-Average Starter / Average Starter
Scheme Fit: Gap System
Grade: Early 2nd Round
Injury History: N/A
Character Notes: N/A
"He's just a very large man that plays like a very large man," Brown shared. "He just throws guys around and he's violent. He loves everything that it takes. And I remember working out with him, he's a workout freak. Anything that needs to be done for him to be successful, he's going to do it." -- Spencer Brown (Bills) on former college teammate Trevor Penning
"Trevor...deserves every opportunity he gets. That man deserves any opportunity to be on a football team. You're not a two-time (Conference) Defensive Player of the Year for no reason. He better get his opportunities. "We've got guys on our team that were able to bring in a lot of scouts, us other guys on the team are just thankful to get a shot to show everyone what we could do." -- Teammate Jared Brinkman on Trevor Penning
2/8/22 - Teams want to see small-school players finish the week strong. The adjustment in competition can take some getting used to, so progression is critical throughout the three practices. Penning did precisely that and then some. His third day of practice was as good as any practice performance from an offensive tackle in recent memory. He displayed his unbelievable grip strength and mauling mentality to pancake defenders. Penning looked like he was going against the FCS teams he tormented all season, just this time, they were wearing Ohio State and Penn State helmets. The athleticism and size are there for Penning to stick at left tackle and be one of the best run blockers in the NFL early on. Penning is working with offensive line specialist Duke Manyweather and if he gets his technique to where it needs to be in pass protection, being a perennial pro-bowler isn't out of the question.
Quote of Note: “He’s one of the nastiest linemen I’ve ever seen in my life. I’d put him up against any NFL offensive lineman on the nasty scale. I think, just let him play. And he’s the nicest guy ever off the field and the whole team loves him. With Trevor, he plays the game like Quenton Nelson, that type of love for the game and physicality.” -- Ryan Clanton, Northern Iowa OL Coach