Sewell excited to face older brother in Oregon-Nevada game

Oregon offensive lineman Penei Sewell will take on his older brother, Gabriel, for the first time ever when Nevada comes to Autzen Stadium on Saturday.

Posted: Sep 3, 2019 5:41 PM
Updated: Sep 3, 2019 5:47 PM

Eugene, Ore. -- The last time Oregon sophomore offensive lineman Penei Sewell was smaller than his brothers, he was in the 8th grade. 

"I was kind of big freshman year (of high school), so I was bigger than them throughout then," says Penei. "The last time we've all been on the same field together, I was a freshman and he was a senior." 

"I could usually handle him up until my senior year of high school and then he kind of hit a growth spurt out of nowhere," his older brother Gabriel recalls, "Then he started asserting his authority on me as a little test. We all do it to my Dad too now that we're younger and stronger but we know it's all love."

About 6 years later, the sophomore stands over just about everyone in his family at 6 feet 6 inches and 325 pounds. And for the first time in his college career, he'll see one of his brothers on a playing field, lined up across from him. Gabriel is a senior at the University of Nevada, who will be coming to Autzen Stadium fresh off an upset win over Purdue in week 1. While Penei was pancaking Auburn defenders in the Ducks season opener, Gabriel had five tackles and anchored a defense that helped stymie national sensation Rondale Moore, giving the Pack second win of a power 5 team in as many years. 

"It's crazy," says Gabriel, now able to reflect in his final year of college football. "Not too many people, brothers, can all play Division I football, get on the same field, on the same team, or on the same field period. It's crazy all the work we've put in and all the sacrifices the family members and friends made for us to get here. It's just a blessing."

"I don't think it's really hit me yet," Penei mentions. "I just go about my daily routine but probably when we step on the field together, just see him across the field from me, it'll probably hit me."

For Gabriel, it'll not only be a foreign feeling to line up against a Sewell, but to be playing without one as well. In 2011, the family moved from American Samoa to St. George, Utah. Gabriel, Nephi and Penei played for Desert Hills, racking up player of the year awards, all-state honors, and collegiate offer after collegiate offer. 

Gabriel was the first of the family to play at the next level, and decided to play at the University of Nevada, where Nephi followed suit a couple years later. But in 2018, Nephi transferred to the University of Utah, citing a desire to be closer to home. Shortly thereafter, Gabriel entered his name into the transfer portal, but had a change of heart and returned to the Wolfpack for his final season. Playing without a sibling comes along with playing against one in his final year of college football. 

"It's the first time I've ever played against a brother," says Gabriel. "But at the same time there's 10 other guys on both sides of the ball. So it's not gonna be a Sewell against Sewell, there's a whole team."

But much of the limelight will be on both Sewell's, given that all four brothers have quickly become one of the west coast's premier football families. Gabriel and Nephi both had multiple Pac-12 offers coming out of high school, Penei is at Oregon and is already among one of the top offensive line prospects for the NFL, while youngest brother Noah is a consensus five star recruit with offers from every power program in America. 

It's easy to root for the kids when they're on the field individually, but this will be a unique challenge for Gabriel and Penei's parents, Gabriel II and Arlene, as to whose school colors they will don on game day. 

"Mom and Dad will be split," Penei jokes when asked about who his family will be rooting at Autzen. "We'll have 5 with the O and 7 with Nevada."

Gabriel, like any older brother, hopes to see more blue and silver than green and yellow. 

"I know my mom probably doesn't like it," the eldest brother says. "They'll be in a bind of like 'who do you cheer for?' So I'm more interested in what section they sit in, what clothes they wear."

He then smiles, and tells the media chatting with him after practice, "We'll see who's the favorite son out of the both of us."

Additional practice notes:

-- Sophomore Daewood Davis will be moved to wide receiver after spending all of spring and fall camp as a defensive back. He played wide receiver during his freshman year at Oregon. 

-- Offensive coordinator Marcus Arroyo told reporters on Tuesday that he plans on allowing his younger receivers some more freedom following the Ducks loss to Auburn. "I think looking back you'd probably say probably not protecting those young guys who were out there, who had to go step in, probably not protect them and see if we can cut it loose a little more," Arroyo said on Tuesday.

--The Associated Press poll was released Tuesday and Oregon dropped five spots, to no. 16 following the 27-21 loss to Auburn on Saturday. 

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