Richard Davenport covers recruiting for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. He appears weekly on The Red Zone w/ JB on 92.1 FM Fayetteville, The Morning Rush w/ Tye & Tommy on 95.3 FM in Fort Smith; 96.3 FM in Hot Springs; 104.3 FM in Harrison/Mountain Home, 99.5 FM in Fayetteville and The Zone w/ Justin & Wess on 103.7 FM in Little Rock.
The Recruiting Guy:
Utah lineman carries family legacy, likes Arkansas
Arkansas offensive line coach Kurt Anderson watches warmups prior to a game against LSU on Saturday, Nov. 12, 2016, in Fayetteville.
Offensive lineman Penei Sewell's impression of the Arkansas Razorbacks football program got off to a good start soon after arriving for his visit Saturday morning.
Sewell, his father Gabriel and his brother Noah, a highly-regarded freshman linebacker, were greeted by Razorbacks offensive line coach Kurt Anderson and his two young sons, Hawken and Torin.
"My thoughts of Arkansas before I visited totally changed the moment I pulled up," Sewell said. "I walked in and I saw coach's kids and just like that I knew it was a family atmosphere and it wasn't like they're being shy, too. They were wrestling and having fun."
Sewell, 6-4, 320 pounds, of St. George (Utah) Desert Hills, has scholarship offers from schools like Arkansas, Alabama, Florida, UCLA, Utah, Michigan, Oklahoma, Nebraska and numerous others.
ESPN rates him the No. 7 offensive guard and No. 148 overall prospect in the nation. Sewell said he was observant of the people around Arkansas' football facility and liked what he experienced.
"As I was on the tour, I was watching the people," Sewell said. "It seemed like a chill environment. I got to meet some of the players that were there and that really helped with what Arkansas is about. I got to play some ping pong with one of them. It was fun."
After spending time with Anderson, Sewell said he was won over.
"I really like him," Sewell said. "He's a guy I can play for."
Anderson jotted down notes called "O-line Pride" several years ago and shares his thoughts with committed linemen or others visiting campus.
"When he was reading it, I can tell he's a beast," Sewell said. "The words that was in that message he created made it two times better. As I was listening, I can just vision the Arkansas O-line playing their hearts out for that man. He's a great guy, period."
Noah Sewell also attends Desert Hills and has scholarship offers from Arizona State, Utah State, Hawaii, Nevada and Southern Utah. There are two older brothers as well. Gabriel Sewell Jr. plays at linebacker at Nevada-Reno, while Nephi signed with the Wolf Pack in February as a defensive back.
Penei Sewell's uncle Isa'ako Sopoago was a defensive lineman in the NFL for 11 seasons. Another uncle, Richard Brown, played linebacker for nine seasons in the league.
Sewell said met with Arkansas Coach Bret Bielema and came away impressed.
"I got to meet him and he's a straight-forward, honest guy," Sewell said. "I can tell he really cares about his players."
Like other recruits who visit the Hogs, Sewell was able to visit with panel of Razorbacks players and ask questions about life as a student-athlete.
"My dad asked the questions," Sewell said. "I was just observing and watching them on how they hold themselves, the way they talked to my dad. Are they cool and respectful? So yeah, I kind of just sat there and watched."
Sewell said the visit helped him get a good feel for the Arkansas program.
"I learned a lot about the people there as I was walking," he said. "I saw people around and I learned that they're all respectful and kind to each other. It's a friendly environment from what I got from it."
E-mail Richard Davenport at email@example.com
Sports on 05/09/2017
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