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Ducks offensive lineman Penei Sewell (58) holds up his championship shirt as confetti goes off. Oregon Ducks football takes on Wisconsin for the 106th Rose Bowl Game at Rose Bowl Stadium in Pasadena, Calif. on Jan. 1, 2020. (Maddie Knight/Emerald)

Junior All-American tackle Penei Sewell took to Twitter Monday morning to announce he will opt out of the 2020 season, should it take place, and instead prepare for the NFL Draft. 

Although athletes from around the country have already opted out, Sewell is the first Oregon football player to do so.

Ranked in the top-5 on virtually every NFL Draft site, Sewell stated the decision had more to do with preparing for the draft than anything else. 

“Inspired by a lifelong dream, I have been supported by the best family ever,” he wrote. “Humble and grateful for this hand in all things, I have reached that point in my life where I am on the verge of realizing my dreams.”

The left tackle went on to write messages addressed to the Jacqua academic staff, medical staff, coaches, head coach Mario Cristobal, who he referred to as a “mentor, coach, teacher, friend and father figure,” as well as teammates and fans. 

Sewell leaves the Oregon program as one of the most accomplished Ducks to ever play. Playing just two seasons, he became the first Polynesian, sophomore and Duck to win the Outland Trophy. He became the third-ever Duck to become a unanimous All-American joining Marcus Mariota and LaMichael James. He finished 2020 as PFF’s highest graded offensive lineman since 2014. And in two seasons allowed just one sack, playing 1,376 snaps. 

Cristobal and his program aren’t just losing a talented player, but a proven leader and tone-setter who helped transform the Ducks program. The team was 17-3 in games Sewell played. 

In his departure from the program, redshirt freshman Jonah Tauanu’u will likely take over the reins at left tackle. He’ll be one of five new starters along Oregon’s front line as Sewell was set to be the lone veteran amongst the group. 

Shane Hoffmann is a sports editor and writer primarily covering the Ducks football and basketball beats. Shane is originally from Ann Arbor, Michigan and came to the University of Oregon in 2018.