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Trevor Penning made more Northern Iowa football history Thursday night.
The New Orleans Saints’ selection of Penning with the No. 19 overall pick in the NFL Draft made him the first UNI player to be a first-round pick.
The 6-foot-7 offensive tackle was the first player from any of the four Division I football programs in Iowa to be taken in the 2022 NFL Draft.
Penning was the fourth offensive tackle and sixth offensive lineman taken Thursday.
ESPN draft expert Mel Kiper Jr. ranked him as the fourth-best offensive tackle in this year’s draft. Many mock drafts had Penning slotted between picks No. 13 and 20.
Penning, who watched Thursday’s draft with his family in his hometown of Clear Lake, had an improbable path to the NFL Draft.
He had just two Division I scholarship offers coming out of high school at Mason City Newman. Both Iowa and Iowa State overlooked him.
Then he went to UNI and was the only lineman to be a finalist last season for the Walter Payton Award, which goes to the best offensive player at the FCS level.
Now, he’s done something Kurt Warner, James Jones, Spencer Brown and other Panther football greats weren’t able to do — hear his name called in the first round of the NFL Draft.
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