Fast-Rising Oregon Target Turns Heads at The Opening

Joshua Whitted Recruiting

The term “freak athlete” is becoming a cliché in football circles. It seems like every other top-flight NFL draft prospect or high-ranking recruit is given the moniker. The reality is, with athletes today being bigger, stronger and faster than ever before, these “freak athletes” are just the new normal.

But once in a while, even among this new caliber of athlete, a player stands out above the rest. Four-star linebacker Noah Sewell is one of those players.

Sewell is an enigma: he has the skill of a sideline-to-sideline linebacker in the body of a defensive lineman. His combination of size and athleticism combination is unmatched, and he’s quickly rising up the rankings. The Ducks have him at the top of their priority list, but so do a bunch of hungry southeastern schools. Can Oregon seal the deal and get Sewell on board, or will yet another big-time western prospect take his talents to enemy territory?

Noah Sewell: Mr. Incredible

Sewell’s tape requires a second and maybe even a third viewing. Can someone who’s 6’2” and 266 lbs. really run like that? Not only is Sewell one of the biggest players on the field, he is often the fastest as well, chasing down ball carriers and making plays in coverage.

What’s more, Orem High School uses Sewell at tailback, a position in which he moves fluidly and explosively. Just picture a player with the size of a defensive end taking handoffs 20 times a game. That’s what Orem’s opponents have to look forward to this upcoming season. Although Sewell’s future is on the defensive side of the ball, his being utilized as a running back just speaks to his freaky skill set. He’s so talented that he could likely thrive at five different positions.

At linebacker, his likely position in college, Sewell certainly has the potential to be a game-wrecker. Although very few players have even attempted to play off the ball at his size, and even fewer have succeeded, Sewell could be an exception. Good instincts matched with spectacular athleticism give him a chance to do special things at the next level.

Sewell’s Performance at The Opening Finals

Evaluators already knew that Sewell was an elite talent, but his performance at The Opening Finals this past week was something that few saw coming.

An event similar to the NFL Combine in many respects, The Opening Finals typically isn’t the best platform for players of Sewell’s size. With 7-on-7 scrimmages, 1-on-1 coverage drills and no pads, bigger, more physical players are usually at a disadvantage. No one would have blamed Sewell if he hadn’t had his best outing.

But in typical Sewell fashion, he dominated.

Sewell put up elite testing numbers at The Opening FInals.

To start, he put up absurd athletic testing numbers, with a 4.75 40-yard dash, a 4.13 short shuttle, a 35.6-inch vertical jump and a 47.5-ft. power ball toss. To put these numbers into perspective, Sewell measures at roughly the same size of current Philadelphia Eagles edge rusher Brandon Graham, and he runs a faster short shuttle than star NFL receiver Antonio Brown.

His collective SPARQ rating, which measures athleticism relative to size, was 132.39, a number that ranked in the 99th percentile for players at the event. It’s not a stretch to say that Sewell’s the best athlete in the country.

Beyond the testing numbers, Sewell also turned heads on the field. He reportedly was a stud in pass coverage, showcasing his elite movement skills all week long. He earned a spot on 247Sports’ “Opening Finals Dream Team,” with writer Barton Simmons saying the following about his performance:

“This isn’t supposed to be a setting that favors a 266-pound inside linebacker, but somehow Sewell was incredibly active. He was chopping footballs out of the hands of wide receivers, he was hunting down running backs in space. It’s scary how good Sewell was because we all know he’d be even better if he was in pads.”

Sewell put on a show at The Opening Finals.

The buzz among experts on both 247Sports and ScoopDuck is that Sewell will be gaining a fifth star before long. His top-level testing and ability to not only keep up, but thrive, in coverage cemented his status as one of the elite linebacker prospects in this recruiting cycle. Any question that he would be able to keep up in space at his size has been put to rest.

Oregon Has the Inside Track

Oregon is the favorite for Sewell and has been for a while. His brother Penei is one of the Ducks’ best players and will likely be a high NFL draft pick by the time he leaves school. That’s a heck of a recruiting pitch to the younger Sewell, who would undoubtedly love to taste similar collegiate success.

But Noah has been adamant that it’s not just Penei that makes Oregon a potential landing spot. In an interview with 247Sports, Noah explained that it has been a collective effort from the Ducks coaching staff:

“I’m being recruited by everybody at Oregon, Coach (Mario) Cristobal, Coach (Ken) Wilson, my brother. It’s like a big family feeling there.”

Sewell is a priority for Oregon; he has the potential to be one of the Ducks’ best signees in recent history. Oregon has put in serious work for him to this point, and it looks to be paying off. Experts on 247Sports and ScoopDuck are confident that Oregon will get Sewell in the end.

Penei Sewell is a big reason why Noah is considering Oregon.

But plenty of other schools are taking their shots. SEC and ACC powers such as Alabama, Georgia, Clemson and Texas A&M are some of Oregon’s biggest challengers. Sewell recently took a four-school trip across the Southeast in which he unofficially visited Georgia, Alabama, Clemson and Tennessee. Like many other prospects today, he doesn’t seem particularly bent on staying close to home.

He has three official visits lined up, with another two in the works as well. One of them will be to Oregon, while the other two confirmed ones are to Georgia and Texas A&M. Although the Ducks are currently the clear-cut favorites for him, they’ll need to be persistent and crush his official visit. Programs like Alabama and Clemson don’t come in second place often in recruiting battles. If Oregon takes its foot off the gas pedal, Sewell could slip out of its grasp.

Sewell has been a blue-chip recruit for a while, but his legend is growing by the second. A truly unique prospect in a time where players of nearly every build and skill set are taking the field, Sewell is the definition of a can’t-miss prospect.

Oregon is sitting pretty right now, but until Sewell puts pen to the paper, the Ducks can’t afford to make any assumptions. After all, Nick Saban and Dabo Swinney would love to have a near 270-lb. linebacker with receiver-like quickness roaming the middle of their already fearsome defenses. Mario Cristobal has proven that he’s an impressive recruiter in his own right. Can he and the Ducks hang on and snag a big fish right from the jaws of the best programs in college football?

Joshua Whitted
Morgantown, West VirginiaTop Photo From Twitter

And a special thanks to the experts and insiders at 247Sports and ScoopDuck, who provide fans with the best and most in-depth Oregon recruiting news in the industry. Subscribe to each of them for premium content and the most up-to-date recruiting news.

Bob Rodes, the Volunteer editor for this article, is an IT analyst, software developer and amateur classical pianist in Manchester, Tennessee.


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