Oregon linebacker Noah Sewell is certainly aware of the expectations that come with the family name.
Noah is the youngest of the four Sewell brothers. Penei also went to Oregon and now plays for the Detroit Lions. Nephi went to Utah and spent the preseason with the New Orleans Saints this year. Gabriel played at Nevada and is with the USFL's Philadelphia Stars.
So yes, that pressure? It's there.
“I've just got to put a stamp on it. I gotta be the biggest Sewell out there. I've got to be the biggest name, since I'm the youngest, I've just got to do better than all the brothers before me," Noah said.
Last season, Noah led all freshmen nationally and was second overall in the Pac-12 with 114 tackles and four sacks. Overall he has 159 total tackles with 15 tackles for loss and six sacks in 21 games.
Gabriel and Arlene Sewell have five children, four sons and a daughter. From American Samoa, the family moved to Utah to help their kids pursue football. Noah followed his big brother Penei to Oregon.
“When it came down to it, my decision was my brother. I just wanted to learn from my brother, his game, how he approached it. As you can see, he’s doing amazing things right now, and I still want to learn from him," Noah Sewell said.
Penei played for Oregon from 2018 to 2020. He won the Morris and Outland trophies as a sophomore in 2019, then sat out the coronavirus-shortened season in 2020 before declaring for the NFL draft.
The seventh-overall pick in the 2021 NFL draft, Penei started 16 games for the Lions his rookie season.
Noah and Nephi played on opposites sides last year when Utah routed Oregon 38-7 in the regular season, and again when the Utes beat the Ducks 38-10 in the Pac-12 championship game.
Nephi, named to the AP All-Pac-12 first team, was picked up by the Saints in May as an undrafted free agent.
There are other family ties spread across the Pac-12 this season:
Much like Noah is the last of the Sewell brothers, Utah freshman linebacker Lander Barton is the youngest of the Barton brothers, who were all Utes. Cody is a linebacker for the Seattle Seahawks and Jackson is an offensive tackle for the Las Vegas Raiders.
Utah is truly a family affair for the Bartons: dad Paul also played football and baseball for the Utes and mom Mikki was a standout on the basketball and volleyball teams. Sister Dani Drews played volleyball for the Utes and was with the U.S. national team at the recent Pan American Cup.
"He has all the tools,” Utah coach Kyle Whittingham told reporters during spring practice. “When we recruited him, we felt like we knew exactly what we were getting. He’s 6-4 and 230 pounds and runs really well. There’s nothing that’s surprising us, but it’s pretty impressive what he’s doing at such an early stage.”
Lander is set to start Saturday when the No. 7 Utes visit the Florida Gators.
Arizona State brothers Kyle and Connor Soelle are starting at linebacker together for the first time this season. The Sun Devils open Thursday night at home against Northern Arizona.
Kyle has been a starter the past two seasons and has been in the program since 2017. Connor has been in the program since 2019 and saw increased playing time last year before dealing with injuries.
Oh, and they're local kids. Both went to Saguaro High School in Scottsdale.
But wait, there's more: The Markham brothers, Keon and Kejuan, are defensive backs for the Sun Devils.
ASU running back Daniyel Nagata is the brother of Clemson wide receiver Joseph Ngata and Sacramento State defensive lineman Ariel Ngata. The brothers are the sons of immigrants from Cameroon who settled in Nevada.
UCLA has the Murphy twins -- redshirt sophomores Gabriel and Grayson -- who transferred from North Texas. Grayson had 8.5 sacks last season and Gabriel had 7.0.
Gabriel was listed as one of the starters at OLB on the initial depth chart for Saturday’s opener against Bowling Green, with Grayson backing him up.
Grayson joked that coaches refer to them both as the “Murphy Twin.”
Gabriel said outside linebackers coach Ikaika Malloe is the best at telling the two apart.
"He says (Grayson’s) structure’s a little bigger than mine, and mine’s a little skinnier, if you can tell that. He has a little scar behind his eye that a lot of people tell us by, so that’s some of the things," Gabriel said.
Washington State has a pair of 6-foot-5, 300-pound twin freshmen from Texas, Landon and Luke Roaten. Rival Washington has a pair of freshman twins, too: defensive linemen Armon and Jayvon Parker from Detroit. Armon missed fall camp with injury.
AP Sports Writers Joe Reedy and John Marshall contributed to this report.
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