Penei Sewell is focusing on the upcoming high school football season as any devoted high school football player would be doing in June.
The difference with Sewell this year compared to last is there’s a lot going on in the college football world he has to think about.
Sewell, an incoming junior right tackle at Desert Hills High, has 13 football scholarship offers from Division I schools all across the country.
Those include nationally prominent programs such as Michigan, Oklahoma and Tennessee, Pac-12 schools such as Utah, UCLA and Arizona State, and all the Division I schools in Utah, including BYU and Southern Utah. And there will likely be more.
It’s a lot to take in for a 15-year-old, but he says he’s not focused on the amount of scholarship offers he has.
“I’m going to take my time and worry about football right now,” he said.
Sewell stands tall around 6-foot-4 and 6-foot-5, has a big smile on his face and will likely pancake block any pass-rusher who comes close to him or simply drive them 15 yards down the field.
His early prowess has not only attracted attention from the 13 schools and others, but the major college football recruiting services have taken notice as well.
Sewell is rated as a four-star prospect and ranked No. 49 in the 247Sports Composite rankings, in which he’s also the highest-ranked class of 2018 football prospect in the state of Utah.
The rankings generally change a lot in the space of two years, but it’s a good sign that Sewell is highly rated this early in the process.
Sewell’s father, Gabriel Sewell Sr., said there’s still a lot of work to do, and he likes the idea of Penei taking his time.
“Right now he’s focusing on the upcoming season. I mean we’ve got to take care of that first. Everything else will eventually fall into place,” he said.
Penei isn’t the first in his family to be recruited. His older brother Nephi Sewell, who was recently medically cleared after suffering a severe neck injury last August, was also heavily recruited up until he got hurt. Another older brother Gabriel Sewell Jr. plays at Nevada-Reno and gave Penei some advice about the recruiting process.
“He just said to stay humble, don’t let them get to your head, focus on you and do the work,” Penei said.
All of this rising exposure with scholarship offers, high-profile camps and daily posts on recruiting blogs is a surprise and a blessing to Penei, he said. It’s also a surprise to Desert Hills head coach Carl Franke said.
“I’m surprised, but at the same time I’m not because the sky’s the limit with him,” he said.
Franke says Penei’s recruitment may bring more colleges to Southern Utah, a move he says would benefit those schools and local athletes. When Oklahoma coaches came out to Southern Utah to see Penei, Franke said they didn’t know a lot about the area, but said it was gorgeous and were surprised at the talent level in the area.
Franke only expects more schools to show interest in Penei, and also said he wouldn’t be surprised if recruiters come to watch Desert Hills games this year.
Penei took unofficial visits to Utah and UCLA earlier this year and doesn’t have any visits scheduled in the future, but the summer is going to be busy for him regardless.
He’s going to the All-Poly Camp up in Layton next week and going to two big camps in Las Vegas the week after. One of the Las Vegas camps features several teams from the western region (Arizona State, Washington State, Oregon State, San Diego State, UNLV and BYU) and the other features the University of Michigan coaching staff.
With all these offers the one question everyone wants to know is where Penei will play in two years. Ten of the 247Sports Top-50 prospects have already verbally committed to colleges, including some who committed between their freshman and sophomore years of high school.
But Penei, and his dad, said he’s waiting until National Signing Day in February 2018. Until then, the Thunder have two seasons with one of the best right tackles in Utah.
Schools that have offered Penei Sewell a football scholarship:
Arizona State, Arkansas, BYU, Michigan, Oklahoma, Oregon State, Southern Utah, Tennessee, UCLA, Utah, Utah State, Washington State, Weber State.
Follow Patrick Carr on Twitter @patrickcarr_, on Facebook at facebook.com/patrickjosephcarr1/ or call him at (435) 231-3834. Keep up with The Spectrum’s prep sports coverage using #region9preps