Michael Penix Jr. to serve as grand marshal of Dade City parade

The hometown that Heisman Trophy runner-up Michael Penix Jr. has embraced during his dazzling 2023 season is embracing him back.

Penix, the Washington quarterback whose quest for a national championship ended with Monday night’s loss to Michigan in the College Football Playoff title game, will serve as grand marshal of Saturday morning’s Martin Luther King Jr. Parade in downtown Dade City. The event starts at 10 a.m.

“He is grand marshal,” parade organizer Cassie Coleman said. “Michael has agreed, which I’m just so thankful, to come back home to be grand marshal of our little ol’ parade.”

The parade route will go along Seventh Street, the main thoroughfare in downtown Dade City. It will conclude with a “unity prayer” at the Pasco County Historic Courthouse on Meridian Avenue, where Penix will receive a proclamation from the city, Coleman said.

Born in Tennessee, Penix was raised in Dade City and played his freshman and sophomore seasons at Pasco High before transferring to Tampa Bay Tech. His dad, Michael Sr., was a 1,200-yard rusher and first-team all-state defensive back as a Pasco senior in 1991.

The elder Penix later served as a Pirates assistant and has indicated that Michael Jr. — the oldest of his three kids — took his first steps in the south end zone of the school’s football stadium.

The younger Penix, who led Washington to a 14-1 record and Pac-12 title, finished with a nation-best 4,903 passing yards and ranked third in touchdown passes (36). Still widely known as “Little Mike” in Dade City, he gave a shout-out to his hometown following his team’s 37-31 triumph against Texas in the Sugar Bowl that clinched a spot in the CFP championship.

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