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Family first: Noah Sewell takes strength from family in becoming 2019’s Mr. Football

Orem’s Noah Sewell is an extraordinary talent on the field, unlike any recruit the state has produced, although his character off it is what may separate him most.

Orem Tigers linebacker Noah Sewell, Mr. Football 2019, poses for a portrait at Orem High School in Orem on Thursday, Dec. 12, 2019. Sewell has committed to play for the University of Oregon where his older brother Penei Sewell currently plays as an offensive lineman.
Orem Tigers linebacker Noah Sewell, Mr. Football 2019, poses for a portrait at Orem High School in Orem on Thursday, Dec. 12, 2019. Sewell has committed to play for the University of Oregon where his older brother Penei Sewell currently plays as an offensive lineman.
Colter Peterson, Deseret News

OREM — It doesn’t take a genius evaluator to understand just how good Noah Sewell is at his craft.

Just a few minutes watching him perform on the gridiron provides ample evidence the Orem star is unlike any recruit this state has ever produced.

Standing in at 6-foot-2 and 270 pounds, Sewell is the very definition of a freak athlete, capable of playing just about anywhere on the field of play, although he excelled playing at both linebacker and running back for the Tigers. He’s one of just two consensus 5-star football prospects the state of Utah has ever produced, with the other being Haloti Ngata, and is considered one of the very best prospects in the country.

All of his football accomplishments are apparent and have been written about at length. But who Noah Sewell is as person, and how he conducts himself before, during and after football games is of great importance to him, perhaps even more so than his extraordinary ability to play the game.

“It’s the way I was taught and it’s important to play the game right — the way my parents taught me,” Sewell said. “I don’t like all the extra stuff and all the stuff that isn’t necessary that some guys get into. It’s important to be respectful.”

Several have noticed, too.

Whether it be an opposing player Sewell rushes to console following a win while the rest of his team celebrates or chewing out teammates to keep their heads straight when popping off during games, it’s a consistent aspect of 2019’s Mr. Football.

“I always try and remind my kids that they don’t know what someone’s going through,” said Noah’s mother, Arlene Sewell. “What we think we see in front of us isn’t always the case, and it’s just important to understand that every single person has their own struggles and it’s up to us to be that smile or something that person — any person — needs to lift them up.”

One person Noah Sewell does know better than anyone is his mother, with the two forming a strong relationship perhaps not all that common between most teenagers and their mothers.

In interviews, Noah often is hesitant to speak of his own accolades, but when asked about his mother, he doesn’t hold back.

“She’s my rock. She’s the most special person in the world to me. She’s my best friend,” Noah Sewell stated unabashedly. “She’s the one that is always there for me, and she means the world to me.”

For Arlene Sewell, Noah’s sentiments aren’t just words, with his actions since he was a young boy growing up in American Samoa proving unique and endearing.

“He’s just always had a special quality about him,” Arlene Sewell said. “I don’t know if it’s because he’s the youngest, but he’s always been someone who is very sensitive toward others and mindful in that way.”

Noah Sewell’s older brothers have all excelled in football, with the third son, Penei Sewell, recently being named as the Outland Trophy winner for his play as an offensive lineman for Oregon. Growing up in a household as the youngest among top athletes wasn’t always easy for Noah Sewell, although he knew he could always find comfort with his mother.

“I talk to her about everything and she always has the right things to say to get me through whatever I need,” he said. “It’s a special relationship and one I’ve definitely benefitted from growing up.”

The relationship doesn’t just go one way, either.

“Noah always, and I mean always, knows when I need some support,” Arlene Sewell said. “I can’t count how many times I’d come home from a bad day at work and he just knows, and he just holds me and we get through whatever we need to get through. I’m going to miss having that, but I’m also so thankful he has the opportunity he now has.”

That opportunity is advancing to the collegiate level to play for Oregon where he’ll join with his brother in time to start classes in January and compete for a spot during spring practices.

While Noah Sewell is capable of playing several spots, inside linebacker is where he has his eyes set.

“I love linebacker and I love defense,” he said. “I love being able to hit people and not get in trouble for it.”

Playing at linebacker, or anywhere for that matter, wasn’t able to happen early on during his senior season, with Noah Sewell being sidelined for the first five games due to injury. Upon returning, however, he made his presence known immediately and often, accumulating 95 tackles and four sacks on top of 752 yards rushing and 13 touchdowns.

“I always want to prove myself the best I can, so being out was really tough for me,” Sewell said. “I wanted to prove whatever doubters I had wrong and prove that I deserved that fifth-star. But most of all it was for my team and my teammates.”

Sewell enhanced Orem’s play considerably, with the Tigers ending the 2019 season as the 5A state champions. During the 21-7 championship game win over Timpview, Sewell showed as well as always, contributing 103 yards rushing on just 11 carries and 13 tackles, leaving him exuberant yet deeply emotional after.

In a poignant moment, Arlene Sewell left the stands to run across the field to greet her son, with the two enjoying an emotional embrace that lasted several minutes.

Orem’s Noah Sewell fends off Pine View’s Mason Katoa on his way into the end zone for a touchdown as they play in 4A semifinal football action at Rice-Eccles Stadium at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City on Friday, Nov. 9, 2018.
Orem’s Noah Sewell fends off Pine View’s Mason Katoa on his way into the end zone for a touchdown as they play in 4A semifinal football action at Rice-Eccles Stadium at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City on Friday, Nov. 9, 2018.
Deseret News

“I always run to my sons after games whenever I can,” Arlene Sewell said. “I try and always be there, along with their older sister, Gabriela, who has been a second mother for all of them and who is also my son’s biggest fan, along with myself.”

As to what Arlene Sewell shared with Noah after his final game was a familiar refrain, and one he’s done well taking to heart.

“I just reminded him, as I always do, to remember where his blessings come from,” Arlene Sewell said. “It’s so important to remember it’s from Heavenly Father and everyone who has supported him along the way. It’s so important to remember where all the blessings come from.”

As Noah Sewell sets to prove himself again at the collegiate level, the lessons given him by his mother and his father, Gabriel, will be at the forefront of his mind.

“I’m lucky to have the great support I’ve had and it’s my job to not make the very most of it,” Noah Sewell said. “It doesn’t matter what I’ve done and what I’ve accomplished. I have to earn everything now for my myself and definitely for my family.”