Detroit Lions Penei Sewell Can Play Right Tackle Left Tackle
Oregon Ducks head football coach Mario Cristobal was knocked on his door by Shane Lemieux.
In the fall of 2018, Lemieux was a junior guard who was on the way to becoming the first All-American team.
But Lemieux didn’t knock on Cristobal’s door to discuss personal awards. In fact, Lemieux had a simple message for his trainer.
“I want to play alongside Penei Sewell,” Lemieux told his coach.
Cristobal took this as an eye opener, since Sewell was just a freshman from American Samoa. From the moment he walked onto the Eugene campus, Cristobal knew he had something special.
“He’s a generation player,” said Cristobal. “I haven’t seen anyone like him before.”
Shows its versatility
Sewell, the Lions’ first round of voting in 2021, is considered by many to be the offensive line talent of the generation.
According to General Manager Brad Holmes, he should play the right tackle and fit into an offensive line that is young and talented.
Sewell is primarily a left wing attacker in Oregon and may need an adjustment period on paper. However, Cristobal believes it won’t be too difficult. Cristobal is referring to a moment in practice when Sewell asked to play at the center and his coach jokingly took him there.
“Please man, if you had the ball in hand you wouldn’t know what to do in the middle,” said Cristobal to Sewell.
Sewell told Cristobal what each position on the offensive line had to do with the called game.
“Yes, but you can’t catch it,” replied Cristobal.
Sewell responded with a perfect snapshot.
“He’s going to switch and immediately impress you,” Cristobal told reporters.
“We threw the sink at him”
Sewell might never have made it to Oregon if his family hadn’t been neighbors to Oregon co-defensive coordinator Joe Salave’a. Cristobal and Salave’a had bonded when Cristobal first arrived as offensive coach and discussed how they could change the outlook for Oregon’s offensive line.
They found their answer in Sewell.
The legend of Sewell and the process of getting him to Oregon began with a video showing Salave’a Cristobal.
“It took about two or three clips to realize that this is exactly what we need to establish ourselves in a certain way here at PAC-12 and the University of Oregon,” said Cristobal.
The first time Cristobal and Sewell spoke on the phone, it wasn’t a long conversation. Sewell was visiting elsewhere. However, when it came to recruiting during the all-Polynesian soccer camp, the tide turned.
The way the camp was set up, any college could have the opportunity to have players work with them specifically.
Cristobal made up his mind. When Sewell got to his station, he would put him to work.
“We threw the sink at him,” said Cristobal. “We demanded speed, we demanded technique, physicality and he absolutely destroyed it and undoubtedly rose to the top of our board as the most important player in the 2018 class.”
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Cristobal was at Sewell’s design party. When asked about the experience, he giggled.
“There was enough food to feed all of Detroit,” said Cristobal. “It was an incredible scene.”
Cristobal described Sewell’s family as closely related. In Oregon, Sewell always had a large family contingent in the stands. Thursday night was no different, as the Sewell house was full of family and friends.
“You could feel the love in this whole scene,” said Cristobal. “It was fantastic.”
As good as Sewell seems to be at the field, it is largely down to the work ethic and diligence with which he works. These traits are a by-product of how his parents raised him.
“You won’t find a better family,” said Cristobal. “The DNA, principles, and values of this household, how they do one thing, is how they do everything. It’s full throttle and it does it right. ”
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