Graham suspends DT Pennel indefinitely

Junior defensive tackle Mike Pennel warms up on the ASU sideline during the Sun Devils’ 63-6 win over NAU on Aug. 30. (Photo by Kyle Newman)

ASU junior defensive tackle Mike Pennel has been suspended indefinitely from the team for “not meeting our standards,” coach Todd Graham announced Tuesday.

“The feeling I have now is blankness,” Pennel posted on his Twitter account (@wrathofthebeast) this morning.

Pennel was not at practice Tuesday. He did not play during ASU’s 27-17 win over California last Saturday.

“I’m not lowering the standards, period,” Graham said. “Bottom line, that’s what it is. It’s something that we’re never excited about stuff like that. It’s difficult, but at the end of the day, we’re going to do things one way. We’re going to do things the right way. That’s how we’re going to do it.”

Graham would not discuss the specifics of Pennel’s suspension. Although he didn’t play, Pennel did travel with the team to Cal. He was noticeably isolated from the team during the game. At one point, Pennel sat on a cooler by himself as the defense was on the field.

He expressed his frustration on Twitter after the game.

“Wow glad we won but warming the bench is a new feeling for me …,” Pennel tweeted.

“How you expect me to smile when u disrespected me on national television.”

Pennel continued his rant before he was told to by the coaching staff to stop tweeting.

Pennel did post again in a different tone on Tuesday shortly after Graham’s announcement.

“This is a true test of how much I love football… Ill get pass this…. Got to quit being so selfish … ,” Pennel tweeted.

“It’s unbelievable I’ve done this to my family, teammates, and the #ASU fans… Ill (sic) be a better person from this I have no choice but to be.”

It’s the second time Pennel has been suspended by Graham. Ranked as the No. 6 junior college defensive tackle prospect by Rivals.com out of Scottsdale Community College, Pennel missed the second game of the season against Illinois for not meeting team standards as well.

“That’s what makes him (Graham) a great coach because he never backs down and he’s never off a day,” senior cornerback Deveron Carr said. ”What he says is what he means and it’s every second, every minute and every hour of the day. He’s consistent and he makes us consistent as a team. He challenges us to do things the right way everyday and success comes with consistency.”

Pennel had three tackles in three games for the Sun Devils. ASU lacks size at defense tackle without Pennel, who’s listed at 6-foot-5-inches, 355 pounds. Freshman defensive tackle Jaxon Hood is the biggest tackle in the front line’s rotation at 6-feet, 295 pounds.

“It’s unfortunate for the suspension indefinitely for Mike,” Carr said. “He had great size. He’s an athletic dude and a big guy who I most absolutely think would help us. But it’s unfortunate. I’m really not sure why he was suspended but at the same time, it’s none of my business to find out. I know either you’re all in or you’re not.”

“Graham has his reasons for doing things and you just have to roll with him. I believe in him, and I’m pretty sure he had a great deal of respect for the guy and a great reason why he suspended him indefinitely.”

 

Reach the reporter at mtesfats@asu.edu