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The best in the country: Former Utah high school star Penei Sewell wins Outland Trophy as college football’s top interior lineman

FILE - In this Aug. 31, 2019, file photo, Oregon offensive lineman Penei Sewell (58) looks on as Oregon plays Auburn in an NCAA college football game, in Arlington, Texas. Sewell was selected to The Associated Press All-Pac 12 Conference team, and tied for Offensive Player of the Year with Utah quarterback Tyler Huntley and Utah running back Zack Moss, Thursday, Dec. 12, 2019. (AP Photo/Ron Jenkins, File)
AP

Former Desert Hills High School star Penei Sewell is the best interior lineman in college football.

Just a sophomore offensive lineman for the Oregon Ducks, Sewell was named the Outland Trophy winner, given to the nation’s best interior lineman, on Thursday evening at college football’s annual awards ceremony.

Sewell won the award over fellow finalists Derrick Brown (Auburn defensive lineman) and Tyler Biadasz (Wisconsin offensive lineman).

A native of American Samoa, the 6-foot-6, 325-pound Sewell was the top prospect in Utah for the class of 2018 and anchored a tremendous Ducks offensive line this season.

“Right now I’m at a loss for words, really,” Sewell said as he was presented the trophy by ESPN’s Chris Fowler, his parents Gabriel and Arlene looking on, along with Oregon coach Mario Cristobal and others close to him. “Just happy to be here.”

Sewell then offered words of encouragement to youngsters from his homeland.

“For all the kids on the island, man, y’all can do it,” he said. “You’ve seen me out here. Y’all can do the same thing.”

Sixth-ranked Oregon will play eighth-ranked Wisconsin in the Rose Bowl on Jan. 1.

Sewell’s brother Noah, who just completed his senior season at Orem High School by leading the Tigers to their third straight state championship, is set to join Penei on the Ducks, as he announced his commitment to the program following the 5A state championship game.

The early signing period opens Dec. 18.