Strange as it may seem, last weekend’s 77-6 victory over Nevada wasn’t the biggest win of the weekend for the Oregon football program. Autzen not only hosted Jordan Bell, Keanon Lowe and Sabrina Ionescu but also highly touted, multi-skilled inside linebacker recruits Noah Sewell and Keith Brown.
The weekend was a family affair for Sewell, with both his brothers in action. Penei, of course, is a sophomore offensive linemen for the Ducks and a complete monster, while Gabriel is finishing up his college football career as an inside linebacker for Nevada. Noah, a five-star recruit from Orem, Utah, is an absolute beast at 6’2″, 260 lbs, with the speed and motor to play either running back or inside linebacker. 247Sports has Oregon as the favorite, with plenty of blue-bloods — including Alabama, Georgia and LSU — in the mix.
A lesser known recruit is home-grown Keith Brown, a four-star, class of 2021 recruit from Lebanon, Oregon with a national class rank of 130. Most of the Pac-12 is vying for his talent, as he’s received offers from Oregon State, USC, UCLA, Washington, Wazzu, Cal and Arizona. The number-one ranked linebacker in the state of Oregon and number-five ranked inside linebacker nationally stands 6’1”, weighs 223 pounds, has a wingspan of 73.5 inches, and runs the forty in 4.81 seconds. Per 247Sports:
“Physical and strong. Shows good lateral movement and ability to move in space. A downhill linebacker who can be a three-down player in college but needs to improve on his play diagnosis. Tendency to get flat-footed at times but shows good recovery ability and willingness to mix it up at the line of scrimmage. Projects as multi-year Power 5 starter and third-day NFL draft selection.”
Like Noah Sewell, Brown has serious skills on the offensive side of the ball as well. In his most recent game on September 6th, Lebanon cruised to a 62-28 victory with Brown contributing two touchdowns and 154 yards rushing on 14 carries. Last year, in his sophomore season, he was all-conference at running back. Oh, and did I mention he was an all-state wrestler?
Oregonlive.com has Brown pegged as a top candidate for Class 5A Oregon Defensive Player of the Year. Brown’s coach Ty Tomlin spoke to OregonLive and had this to say about the young talent:
“Keith is a once-in-a-15-or-20-years type of kid. He’s one of our hardest workers, does all the things that nobody watches him do because he wants to be great. You really want to root for him because he’s such a nice kid and tries to do the right things all the time.”
Brown called last weekend’s visit “an overall success.” He and Sewell were spotted together numerous times laughing and chatting. Brown told OregonLive that “Noah is a great guy. We’ve been friends for a few months now. We have a great relationship, him and his family.” A couple weeks ago, Brown tweeted “Love to Wake Up To A Text From @coach_cristobal.” Brown has had visits to Oregon State, USC and Washington, but 247Sports lead recruiting expert Brandon Huffman has Oregon the clear leader.
For years, the Ducks were known for their prolific, uptempo offense, but it’s the defense that has caught the attention of fans and recruits in recent weeks. NFL wide receiver Dez Bryant tweeted “Oregon defense is something serious” during the first half of the week 1 opener against Auburn. The physicality and athleticism of Andy Avalos’s defense was even more apparent against Nevada.
If Brown and Sewell take their talents to Eugene, we could very well be witnessing a universe where Kayvon Thibodeaux, Mase Funa, Brown and Sewell form the backbone of the Oregon defense. Such a stable of multi-skilled, jumbo athletes would be perfectly suited for Avalos’s shifting, multi-look defense. Their versatility, size and athleticism would also be uniquely adaptable to the difficulties of succeeding in the Pac-12, where linebackers and weakside defensive ends are called upon to run with criss-crossing receivers one week, plug gaps against jumbo sets the next, and chase dual-threat quarterbacks the week after.
After only two games, Avalos is well underway with Oregon’s defensive transformation, a transformation built on size, strength, athleticism and versatility. As more and more attention gets focused on Avalos’s transformative defense, Oregon will become an even clearer favorite for both Brown and Sewell.
And with that kind of beef, Avalos and company will be shutting down Pac-12 offenses for years to come.
Eugene, Oregon Top Photo by Kevin Cline
Phil Anderson, the FishDuck.com Volunteer editor for this article, is a trial lawyer in Bend Oregon.
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