Chase Penry is one of several in-state Colorado football recruits who grew up attending games at Folsom Field.
Additionally, as a very young youngster, Penry was a fan of watching the high-flying USC offense from a decade and a half ago led by stars like Heisman Trophy winners Reggie Bush and Matt Leinart.
That’s why it was fitting Penry’s first taste of collegiate pay dirt arrived amid a perfect storm of circumstances last week.
Penry, a freshman receiver from Cherry Creek High School, scored his first collegiate touchdown during the Buffaloes’ 37-14 home loss against USC. It was a muted celebration for Penry, given the final score, yet an important milestone nonetheless for a player who already has worked his way into the Buffs’ receiver rotation.
“It was definitely a really special moment,” Penry said. “It would’ve been way more special had we come out on top. But being able to score my first one at Folsom, it was pretty special. I’ll never forget it, but we’re trying to win games. I’m all about the team, but scoring my first one at Folsom was special for a hometown kid.”
Penry’s touchdown — on a 7-yard reception from Brendon Lewis late in the third quarter — didn’t change the Buffs’ fate against USC, but it continued a solid early-season showing for the 6-foot-1, 185-pound rookie receiver.
Penry has caught one pass in four of the Buffs’ five games, recording four receptions for 37 yards overall. Amongst a receiving corps that includes veterans like Dmitri Stanley, Brenden Rice, and Daniel Arias, Penry already has found a place in the rotation.
Those four catches may not necessarily jump off the page, but it’s a significant contribution to a passing attack that, with a first-year starter in Lewis and a porous offensive line, enters the bye weekend ranked 127th out of 130 FBS-level teams in passing yards per game (100.4).
Only the three run-heavy attacks from the service academies have produced fewer passing yards per game than the Buffs.
“I feel like I’ve done a pretty good job when my number has been called. I’m making the most of my opportunities,” Penry said. “It’s a whole different game. Just learning the speed and increasing my football IQ to understand how to run routes and get open at this level has been what I’ve been focusing on. I think I’ve been getting better since fall camp in August and I’m just really blessed and thankful for the opportunity they’re giving me to allow me to get on the field.”
As the Buffs go through a bye week marked by controversy with the arrest of Penry’s former Cherry Creek teammate, offensive lineman Carson Lee, on assault charges, Penry and the rest of CU’s offense remains confident they will get things on track with two weeks to prepare for the Oct. 16 home date against Arizona (1:30 p.m., Pac-12 Network).
“I’m very confident we can get this turned around,” Penry said. “Our morale is not down. This bye for us has been pretty big. We’ve been correcting a lot of stuff we’ve been doing wrong in previous games. I’m pretty confident we’re going to string together some wins. That’s just my mindset, and I’m pretty excited for the next couple of games.”