Former Desert Hills football star Penei Sewell opts out at Oregon to prepare for NFL draft

Penei Sewell of the Oregon Ducks is flanked by his parents Arlene and Gabriel Sewell after his team's season-opening win over Bowling Green at Eugene, Ore., Sept. 1, 2018 | Courtesy photo, St. George News

ST. GEORGE — Former Desert Hills High School football star Penei Sewell recently announced he is leaving the University of Oregon in order to prepare himself for the NFL draft.

Sewell publicly announced his decision in a post on Twitter, saying, “I have reached that point in my life where I am on the verge of realizing my dreams.”

Sewell’s tweet also thanked his teammates, coaches, family and fans for their support:

“There are no words to adequately express how blessed I feel for having played football for the past two seasons at the best school in the country, the University of Oregon,” he wrote. “The love and support I’ve received has been overwhelming, and I could not be more grateful.”

Penei Sewell, at right, is joined after an Oregon Ducks football game by his father Gabriel Sewell and former Oregon QB Marcus Mariota, now with the Las Vegas Raiders of the NFL. Date and location of photo not specified. | Photo courtesy of Gabe Sewell, St. George News

Sewell, who graduated from Desert Hills High School in 2018 and had two illustrious seasons at Oregon, said the Pac-12’s decision to not play football this fall was a major factor in his decision to forego the remainder of his college career.

Had COVID-19 not happened, he said, he’d still be wearing No. 58 for the Ducks.

“I was definitely going to play and we were going to win a NATTY (national championship),” Sewell told St. George News via email.

The 6-foot-6, 330 pound offensive lineman, who moved from Oregon back to Utah this past week, said he will now focus on preparing himself for the 2021 National Football League draft, which is scheduled to take place in Cleveland at the end of April. Sewell is considered a consensus top-five prospect, with several experts projecting him to be taken as high as the No. 2 pick, by the Washington Football Team.

“I will be training at Proactive in Southern California, which has experience in preparing athletes for the draft as well as training veteran players in the off-season,” he said, noting that his primary objective is “making sure my body and mind is right entering the draft.”

File photo of Desert Hills’ Penei Sewell (58), Snow Canyon vs. Desert Hills, Football, St. George, Utah, Oct. 19, 2017 | Photo by Robert Hoppie,, St. George News

Sewell received several individual honors while at Oregon, including being the first sophomore ever to win the prestigious Outland Trophy, an honor awarded annually to the nation’s top interior lineman. He also received unanimous All-American honors in 2019, becoming only the third Oregon player to be so named.

But Sewell said his most memorable achievements at Oregon were team accomplishments, namely winning last year’s Pac-12 title, followed by a Rose Bowl victory.

In the Pac-12 championship game last Dec. 6, Oregon defeated then-No. 5 Utah 37-15, earning the Ducks a New Year’s Day bowl berth. Then, in the Rose Bowl on Jan. 1, Oregon defeated Wisconsin 28-27 to finish the season with a 12-2 record and a No. 6 ranking in the polls.

Although Penei Sewell is leaving the Ducks, his younger brother, incoming freshman Noah Sewell, is joining Oregon’s team as an inside linebacker.

Noah Sewell started his high school career at Desert Hills, where he played alongside his older brother in helping the Thunder to the state 3AA title in 2016. Noah Sewell then played his final two years at Orem High, where he helped the Tigers to two straight state championships.

“Never settle and always strive for greatness,” Penei Sewell said when asked about any words of advice for Noah as he begins his college career at UO.

“Chase your dreams, whatever they are, and don’t let anyone else dictate what you can or can’t do,” he added.

Copyright St. George News, LLC, 2020, all rights reserved.

Free News Delivery by Email

Would you like to have the day's news stories delivered right to your inbox every evening? Enter your email below to start!