St. George • Desert Hills senior lineman Penei Sewell, the top prospect in Utah and a four-star recruit with offers from around the country, signed his National Letter of Intent to play at the University of Oregon on Wednesday.
After thanking his family, coaches and teammates, Sewell stood up in front of the standing-room-only crowd ready to reveal his decision. With four caps — Utah, Oregon, USC, Alabama — placed in front of him, Sewell unzipped his jacket to reveal a black Oregon shirt before grabbing an Oregon hat and flashing an “O” as the crowd clapped and cheered.
The past couple of months have been tough for Sewell trying to decide where to play with so many offers. After originally planning to sign during the early signing period in December, the 6-foot 6, 350-pound offensive lineman wasn’t quite ready to make his decision and backed off, needing more time to process his decision.
But Sewell couldn’t stop smiling after announcing his commitment to Oregon on Wednesday.
“It’s a huge weight off his shoulders,” said Gabe Sewell, Penei’s father. “It was a tough decision and he didn’t want to let anyone down because he enjoyed meeting so many great coaches from so many schools.”
Penei Sewell told reporters that he liked the “family atmosphere” during his visit to Eugene, Ore., and felt that’s where he needed to be.
Oregon landed its highest-rated player in years with Penei’s commitment, and he became the second-highest rated player from Utah to play at Oregon behind Highland High star Haloti Ngata, who went on to become a five-time Pro Bowler.
The Sewell family knows it’s going to be a challenge to get to all of their sons’ football games now with three sons playing college football.
“My bills are going up, no doubt about it,” Gabe Sewell said jokingly. “We are going to be adding the Pac-12 Network now so we don’t miss any games.”
Penei has no plans to serve an LDS Church mission or redshirt in the fall.
“He’s ready to play right away,” Gabe Sewell said.
Penei is listed as the No. 2 overall guard in the 2018 recruiting class and the No. 57 ranked player in the nation at any position, according to 247Sports.
Despite suffering a torn labrum at the start of the season, Penei pushed through it to finish the season playing with his younger brother, Noah. The injury didn’t slow down his recruiting as offers kept rolling in along with visits from Alabama coach Nick Saban, who made a stop at Desert Hills High. But it was Oregon that won out in the end.
“We hit the jackpot,” Gabe Sewell said.