Penny and NCAA all-time leading rusher Donnel Pumphrey formed a dynamic duo at running back for the Aztecs for three years, even discovering they were distantly related. After Pumphrey went off to the NFL as a fourth-round pick of the Philadelphia Eagles, it was Penny's time to shine. He led the nation with 2,248 rushing yards and scored 23 touchdowns on 289 carries, finishing fifth in the Heisman Trophy voting and garnering first-team All-American and All-Mountain West honors. Penny also caught 19 passes for 135 yards and two scores and scored twice on kickoff returns, averaging 30.6 yards on 17 attempts (ranked fifth in the FBS). He also scored a 70-yard touchdown on one of his two punt returns for the year. Penny used his compact, strong build and good straight-line speed to run for 1,018 yards and 11 touchdowns (on just 136 carries) despite his cousin running for over 2,000 yards himself in 2016. He also ranked fourth in the country with 31.2 yards per kick return (two touchdowns), running at top speed with purpose after securing the ball. Penny starred for the team in the Mountain West Championship Game (16 att., 117 yards, two scores rushing; 2 receptions, 13 yards; 2 att., 113 yards kick returns), earning Offensive MVP honors. He is a two-time Mountain West Special Teams Player of the Year and first-team all-conference specialist, first garnering the award by finishing second in the FBS with three kick return touchdowns and a 33.5-yard average return. Penny was a valued reserve back, as well, getting 61 carries for 368 yards and four scores and catching eight passes for 120 yards and a touch. The Norwalk, California native and top 50 high school running back recruit was the team's kick returner as a true freshman, averaging a respectable 25 yards an attempt. Penny also had two rushes for 22 yards on the year.