Welcome to SEC Country’s daily Roll Tide-ings, a rundown of everything happening in Alabama Crimson Tide recruiting with Chris Kirschner. Today, we talk the latest with one of Alabama’s top offensive line targets.
Penei Sewell trending back toward Alabama?
Tua Tagovailoa played most of the second half this past weekend against Tennessee. He scored 2 touchdowns and helped the Crimson Tide blow out the Volunteers, 45-7. After the game, Tagovailoa helped Alabama recruit one of its top targets in the 2018 class.
Penei Sewell, a 4-star offensive tackle from Desert Hills High School (St. George, Utah), was one of the Tide’s most important official visitors this past weekend. Each recruit is paired with a current player to be their “host” for the weekend. Sewell’s host was Tagovailoa. The pair developed a friendship this past summer when Sewell first visited Tuscaloosa.
After Alabama’s win against Tennessee, Tagovailoa and his roommate, Najee Harris, hosted a video game tournament, according to Sewell’s dad, Gabriel, which current Tide “Jack” linebacker commit Cameron Latu also attended. Sewell, Latu and Tagovailoa all have a Polynesian background.
Over the summer, when Sewell first visited Alabama, he and his family nearly missed their flight back home because of how much fun he had with Tagovailoa, Harris and Latu. It almost happened again this time around. Sewell just didn’t want to leave.
“They had a blast,” Gabriel Sewell told SEC Country. “We love Tua. Tua is a great kid. We talked to his mom at the game and Taulia [Tua’s younger brother]. I was able to talk to Tua’s dad on the phone. He wasn’t there this past weekend. Their whole family is just great. I think if Penei went [to Alabama], it would be great because he’d have like an older brother in Tua there to help keep him comfortable. They’re great people.”
The Alabama coaching staff is certainly hoping Sewell follows in Tagovailoa’s footsteps and commits to the Crimson Tide. Like Tagovailoa coming from Hawaii, Alabama has to battle some distance issues with Sewell being from Utah. His father said they’ll make it work somehow if his son chooses Alabama.
Sewell has been one of Alabama’s top offensive line targets since his visit to Tuscaloosa over the summer for one of the team’s camp sessions, where he put on a dominant performance. Since then, the team has been in touch with him or his parents every day.
The Army All-American also got to spend a significant amount of time with coach Nick Saban this past weekend. Whenever Alabama has official visitors in town, the recruits go over to Saban’s house for brunch, where they get to see the coach in a more relaxed environment. At Saban’s house, which is on the lake, recruits usually ride around on golf carts down to the water. Saban singled out Sewell for him to drive the cart down to the water, so he got to spend a little extra time with the coach, which was meaningful to his father.
“What stood out to me was just how badly they want him,” Gabriel said. “They told us that he can come in and compete as long as he works his tail off, but that individual time with Saban meant more than anything anyone could have said.”
What also stood out to the family was just how much Alabama fans love their team. Gabriel mentioned how they saw trailers and semi-trucks lined up at 10:30 p.m. on Friday with people already tailgating for the Saturday game. He mentioned how it was unlike anything he had seen at any other school they had visited.
The 6-foot-5, 349-pound prospect has now taken official visits to Alabama, Oregon and Utah. Sewell may take one to UCLA, too, but that isn’t set yet. It’s possible that that visit doesn’t happen depending on how deep his high school team advances in the playoffs.
His commitment will likely come down to Alabama, Oregon and Utah, with the first two schools being the main contenders. Gabriel said he believes all of the schools are equal at this point.
“My best comparison would be this: Because he loves steak, these schools are all a great cut of meat,” Gabriel explained. “It’s like deciding between prime rib, filet mignon and maybe a ribeye. It may just be what cut of steak you’re in the mood for. For a parent’s perspective, I’ll go for any of his choices.”
Sewell’s older brothers — Gabriel Jr. and Nephi — play for Nevada, while his younger brother, Noah, a 2020 prospect, is already starting to get looks from colleges. It’s possible all of Gabriel’s children end up going to school to play football.
“From where we came from in Samoa, I couldn’t have dreamed of this for my children,” Gabriel said.
Penei has been, by far, the most heavily recruited player out of the family. With that, the decision to choose a school has been difficult. Gabriel said a commitment to one of the schools mentioned above will likely come sometime soon. Sewell will sign during the early signing period in December but will not enroll at the school of his choice in the spring because he wants to enjoy the rest of his time in high school. He also needs to get labrum surgery after his season finishes, so he wouldn’t be able to practice anyway if he enrolled in the spring. Sewell has been playing his senior season with a torn labrum. He’s expected to be at 100 percent strength by the start of fall camp.
His father said that as soon as his son knows where he wants to go, a decision will be made then.
“I believe he wants to get this thing done, so he could sign in the early signing period to put this thing to bed,” Gabriel said. “We’re going to give him a few days and probably chat about it some more this weekend.
“I think what will separate all of the programs from each other is figuring out whether or not he’s a comfortable fit. I think as parents we think he could fit in well with all of the programs, but it’s going to come down to whether or not he thinks that.”
As of now, I expect Alabama to be the choice because of his comfortability with Tagovailoa and his relationship with fellow Tide commit Latu, who’s also from Utah.
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