Nephi Sewell told the Nevada staff he was homesick when informing them earlier this month he was transferring, and the former Wolf Pack standout is indeed heading closer to home.
Sewell announced Sunday night he was transferring to BYU with a tweet containing two simple words and one hashtag: "I'm home. #GoCougs" The Sewells moved from American Samoa to Utah when Nephi was in the eighth grade.
Sewell committed to Nevada over offers from Washington State, Weber State and Southern Utah, his recruitment being limited because of neck surgery during his high school career. Sewell opted to begin his career at Nevada in part because his brother, Gabe, also played for the Wolf Pack. Gabe Sewell, the team's starting middle linebacker, plans on staying at Nevada for his senior season.
Nephi Sewell was the first player to commit to Jay Norvell after the head coach got the Nevada job. The 5-foot-11, 205-pound safety played as a true freshman and was a two-year starter who had 53 tackles, including six for loss, this season. He also had an interception and fumble recovery. Sewell has 111 tackles, including 10.5 for loss, six pass breakups, two interceptions, two forced fumbles and one fumble recovery at Nevada. He played in 23 of 24 games during his Wolf Pack tenure, missing one game this season with an arm injury.
Sewell joins a BYU team that used to play in the Mountain West, the conference Nevada is currently a member of. The Cougars went independent in 2012 and still play about four MW teams a year. BYU went 6-6 this season and 4-9 last year. Sewell must sit out next season under transfer rules and will have two seasons of eligibility remaining.
Sewell's departure means Nevada must replace seven starters from the 2018 defense, including all three safeties. Seniors Asauni Rufus and Dameon Baber also are departing following graduation, and key reserve safeties Justin Brent and Anthony Hankins also are graduating seniors. Here is a look at the returning safeties who could replace Sewell, Rufus and Baber.
* Tyson Williams: A high school running back, Williams started his career at Nevada at receiver before moving over to defense. The sophomore-to-be got a decent chunk of playing time as a freshman this season, recording 16 tackles.
* Austin Arnold: A high school receiver, Arnold has played on both sides of the ball for Nevada (mostly in practice). The junior-to-be has three tackles in 11 games this season.
* Daylon Johnson: The junior-to-be has had an injury-plagued career but has been healthy of late and seen a good share of snaps. Johnson has five tackles in nine games this year.
* Isaiah Hamilton: A running back his first two seasons at Nevada, Hamilton moved to defensive back this season and had two tackles in 12 games. He'll be a junior next year.
* Mar'Quette Jackson: A redshirt freshman, Jackson played seven games and had six tackles this season, including 0.5 for loss.
* Emany Johnson: Johnson appeared in two games this year, his true freshman season, so he'll remain a freshman next year.
As you can see, Nevada's safety group will go from the team's most experienced in 2018 to its least experienced in 2019, with Sewell's departure taking away the one sure thing Nevada had on the back line next year.