Oregon star offensive lineman Penei Sewell opts out of junior season to prepare for 2021 NFL Draft

Oregon star offensive lineman Penei Sewell announced Monday that he will opt out of the Ducks’ upcoming season to prepare for the 2021 NFL Draft. Sewell is considered a lock to be selected in the first round of the draft, and his departure will be a blow to an offense replacing its quarterback and four other offensive line starters.

“There are no words to adequately express how blessed I feel for having played football for the past two seasons at the best school in the country, the University of Oregon,” Sewell wrote. “The love and support I’ve received has been overwhelming, and I could not be more grateful. But ever since I was little, I have dreamt of playing professional football. Accordingly, after long thought, prayer and many conversations with my family, I have decided to opt out of the 2020-21 college football season and prepare for the 2021 NFL Draft.”

Sewell was one of only three unanimous first-team 2019 CBS Sports All-Americans after his sophomore season as he helped lead the Ducks to a 12-2 record and Rose Bowl victory over Wisconsin. Sewell allowed just one sack in two seasons as a starter at Oregon. He earned the Outland Trophy for his efforts last season as the best lineman in the country.

The Utah native was considered a four-star prospect in the class of 2018 and became the first Oregon true freshman to start his first game on the offensive line since 1997. His younger brother, Noah Sewell, is set to be a freshman linebacker for the Ducks this season.

Sewell’s opt-out comes amid continued uncertainty about when the Pac-12 season will begin. The league announced last week that it plans to implement daily COVID-19 testing by using testing machines that are expected to be delivered to campuses by the end of September, which could accelerate the league’s timeline for beginning the season after it initially announced that there would be no competition until 2021.

—CBS SPORTS