Cardinals RB Eli Penny thinks younger brother was snubbed for Heisman

Rashaad Penny, the younger brother of Cardinals RB Eli Penny, led the FBS in rushing and all-purpose yards this season at San Diego State. Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

PARADISE VALLEY, Ariz. -- Talk about brotherly love.

When Arizona Cardinals running back Eli Penny was told that his younger brother, San Diego State running back Rashaad Penny, wasn't among the three finalists for the Heisman Trophy -- which will be awarded Saturday night -- despite leading the Football Bowl Subdivision in rushing and yards from scrimmage, Eli was incredulous.

"Oh, wow," he told ESPN. "That's crazy."

Rashaad turned in one of the most -- if not the most -- impressive seasons in college football this season.

The senior led the country with 2,027 rushing yards and 2,698 all-purpose yards, and was first or second in six individual categories. Yet it wasn't enough for Heisman voters, who selected Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield, Louisville quarterback Lamar Jackson and Stanford running back Bryce Love to attend the ceremony.

Eli had no doubt in his mind that Rashaad was snubbed.

"Of course," Eli said. "Definitely.

"If you look at what he did to the Pac-12 teams that he played, he ripped ASU apart and beat Stanford, as well. That's scary."

In a win against Arizona State in the second week of the season, Penny ran for 219 yards -- including a 95-yard touchdown run -- on 18 carries. He added 38 yards and a touchdown on four catches and returned a kickoff for a touchdown.

A week later, in a 20-17 upset of then No. 19 Stanford, Penny ran for 175 yards and a touchdown on 32 carries with another 31 yards receiving on five catches.

But Eli, who scored his first NFL touchdown Sunday, has a theory as to why Rashaad, who was named a finalist for the Walter Camp Award -- which recognizes the player of the year -- wasn’t invited to New York this weekend.

"I just know that East Coast bias against players from the West Coast [exists], which is crazy to me," Eli said. "I don't understand how you lead the entire NCAA in rushing and in all-purpose yards and you don't get invited [as a] Heisman finalist.

"That's crazy."

Eli and Rashaad talk daily but were reunited last weekend for their grandfather's funeral. Eli came back to Arizona feeling like his brother just wanted the Heisman experience.

"I know he didn't even care to really win it," Eli said. "I'm pretty sure he just wanted to go and experience it, and go to New York and all that stuff.

"I believe the East Coast is just biased against West Coast football -- or maybe they just don't watch our games."