It's been just over a year since Penei Sewell picked up his first scholarship offer but, up until recently, that moment seemed far more distant.
Earlier this month, though, the four-star offensive tackle from St. George (Utah) Desert Hills finally reconnected with UCLA, the first program to offer last March, and his father, Gabriel Sr., told Scout.com he's glad they visited campus.
"UCLA reached out to us and they asked if we could make it up to campus after Nike camp, but we were already headed back home when they reached out," Gabriel Sewell said. "They were going through another transition of offensive coaches, so we hadn't heard from them for a while. We didn't really know where they stood until they reached out again. That's what took us out to UCLA for their first full-pads practice.
"It was nice because Penei got to spend some time with coach (Jim) Mora but, I guess more importantly, he was able to spend quality time with Hank Fraley, the new offensive line coach. They hit it off."
The 6-foot-5, 330-pound Sewell, rated No. 1 among offensive linemen in the West for the 2018 class and the No. 86 overall prospect in the Scout 300, got to see the Bruins practice before sitting down with coaches and getting another look at the program. He had been offered earlier by former line coach Adrian Klemm, who was relieved of his duties after the season.
"Penei really likes Fraley's style and his personality," Gabriel Sewell said. "They talked a lot of Xs and Os, and he really took to coach Fraley. Honestly, all they really had to do was reach out again since they went in another direction with their offensive staff. Now that they've reached out again and we've met with coach Fraley, I strongly believe Penei is considering UCLA again.
"Coach Fraley told him that after watching his film, he has the build to play anywhere along the line. I think what interested Penei a lot on that visit was that he has a real chance of coming in and competing right away for a job as a true freshman. That appeals to him. I think they lose some guys to graduation this year, so that's definitely something he's looking at."
Sewell has been to USC twice this year and it's no secret that the Trojans have done a great job of making him feel like a top priority early on.
"Without being to any of the other schools that have offered, USC and UCLA are up there," Gabriel Sewell said. "My own opinion as his father, initially USC had set the bar real high. He loves the home atmosphere and the feel there as well."
"It was a very productive trip," Gabriel Sewell said. "We really had no ties in Arizona or Arizona State, but it was Easter weekend and we were out there to visit my sister in Tucson, so we decided that we were going to look at those schools. We didn't know too much about the schools or the programs.
"ASU was a great visit. Noah got his first offer and Penei was able to meet with coach (Todd) Graham and meet their new O line coach, Rob Sale, and their offensive coordinator, Billy Napier, and they made a big impression on him as well. They really liked it out there. Noah has an offer there and since they've got a chance of playing together, that's really intriguing to Penei."
The Sewells intend to hit the road again this weekend for a visit to Nevada before embarking on a cross-country swing the following weekend. The destinations have yet to be determined, but Penei Sewell holds offers from the likes of Florida, LSU, Mississippi and Tennessee so those could be possibilities.
"We're also looking at Washington and Oregon at some point," Gabriel Sewell said. "We're going to get out east since he's quite a few offers out in the SEC and we'd love to see what those schools have to offer before narrowing down the list."
Penei Sewell has committed to play in both the 2018 Polynesian Bowl in Hawaii and the U.S. Army All-American Bowl.