On the surface it appears the commitment of Andrew Sweat represented another knockout win for the "Brew Crew." Mike Brewster, Jacob Stoneburner and Mike Adams had targeted Sweat early on in the process as a player they wanted very badly at Ohio State. A closer look reveals that although the "Brew Crew" had successfully bonded with Sweat, he was already favoring Ohio State from the beginning.
"It was always Ohio State, right from the beginning," Sweat said of his recruitment. "I wanted to experience the recruiting process and everything, but even though I liked Notre Dame and USC at different times, I kept coming back to Ohio State. I pretty much knew from Day One that I would be a Buckeye, but I wanted to see everything and make the right decision."
His early favoring of the Buckeyes notwithstanding, Sweat also credited his friendship with the "Brew Crew" for helping to solidify his decision to commit to Ohio State. He spoke of how the friendships began with each of the key Buckeye recruits.
"My friendships with those guys began early in the recruiting process," Sweat explained. "It just seemed that the Ohio State guys were just so different from all the other recruits I was meeting along the way. We would meet at different places and as we got to know each other it seems we all grew closer and closer. All of us really developed a bond that still is strong today.'
"I met Michael Brewster a couple times on Florida visits and he and I just clicked. You could say that Mike and I really went through the recruiting process together, as we seemed to visit the same places at the same time. The better we got to know each other, the more likely it seemed we would be attending the same school."
Although Sweat still was visiting many of the top programs in the country, often with Mike Brewster, it seemed he was never far from Ohio State in his mind. He said the Buckeyes were always the school he compared the others to and more often than not, the others never measured up.
"I would visit somewhere like Florida and I would think that it was awesome, which it was," he said. "At the end of the day I would go back to my room thinking how cool Florida or Notre Dame was, but Ohio State would still be on my mind. No matter where I visited I could never shake the feeling that Ohio State was the place I needed to be at to be successful.'
"I don't know what Brewster told you, but believe me, we both liked Florida. We would be on a visit and really liking what we were seeing, but at the end of the day we were both right back to Ohio State. That was really apparent to both of us."
Sweat knew he couldn't go wrong when he was trying to decide between great programs like Penn State, USC, Florida, Notre Dame and Ohio State. He discussed what set Ohio State apart from the rest of the field.
"Those final three or four schools were all great schools," he explained. "It just came down to which school had everything I was looking for. To me, it was clear that Ohio State was that place. It was important to me that Columbus is close to my home. Also, I knew being with Brewster, Stoneburner, DeVier and Big Mike would be awesome. I wouldn't have to go somewhere and make new friends because I already had them. I loved the thought of playing for Luke Fickell, a guy I really admire a lot. Then there was the opportunity to play for the best head coach in the business, Jim Tressel. I also have formed friendships with some of the current Buckeyes and that meant a lot to me."
Andrew Sweat is clearly an analytical person, a trait that will benefit him, on and off the football field. He clearly put a lot of thought into his college choice and the relationships he built at Ohio State were too strong to refuse.
"Andy Miller is at Ohio State and he's from my high school," Sweat continued. "I've also gotten to know Alex Boone through Andy, and we have really hit it off. I've spent a lot of time with Alex talking football, and he's been a big help to me. I was at Ohio State this past weekend to see Lamaar Thomas, and Alex and I hung out together and had a great time. Boone is a real good guy and not what I expected him to be. He's always willing to talk with me and we've had some long discussions about what I need to do to be successful at Ohio State. I've also talked with Tyler Moeller a lot and I have a lot of respect for him. All the current Buckeye players treat us really well. You'd think they would be sick of hearing about the "Brew Crew" and all that stuff, but they're great guys and they've made me feel very welcome into the program. All the other linebackers treat me really good as well. They don't look down on me because I'm coming in to compete with them. I really feel they want the best players at Ohio State to give them the best chance to win. I haven't seen any jealousy or ego problems at Ohio State in the least. I've heard at other schools they treat the incoming guys like dogs, but not here. Brian Rolle and I will be friends when I get there, because we've already met and get along really well. Ohio State will be home to me the minute I get there."
Sweat also stressed the importance of his relationships with his fellow classmates in the "Brew Crew. He touched on his friendships with some of the players in the 2008 recruiting class.
"It all starts with Brewster, trust me," Sweat said with a laugh. "He's kind of a one in a million guy. He's a great guy and a great leader. We hit it off immediately and I don't see us ever not being friends. I've also gotten to know Michael's entire family and we're all extremely close. We really got know each other when I was in Florida a couple of times. I think we're a lot alike in some ways. We're both real intense on the football field, and neither of us will take any crap from anyone on the field. I think we've got a lot guys like that in this class, and I like that about them. I believe we'll all play the game the way it's supposed to be played.'
"Big Mike Adams and Jake are very cool guys too. I've been down with DeVier Posey for a long time now. I met DeVoe Torrence in Pittsburgh at your Scout combine and I couldn't believe what a total stud he is. I've gotten to know Nic DiLillo lately and he's one of us now. This closeness will only benefit all of us down the road. If somebody gets homesick or has any personal problems at all, there will be ten of his brothers right there to pick him up and get him back on his feet again. Some teams take years to develop a tight chemistry. We have that now and I think that will translate to the field in terms of wins. That's what everyone of us is all about. We are all coming here to win rings. We talk about that every time we're together and we'll keep talking about it. These guys never have to worry about me having their backs."
Sweat is a pure football player and admits to not following much recruiting on the internet. He's amused by the "Brew Crew" tag, but not letting publicity consume him. He knows what his job will be at Ohio State, and he won't be distracted by anything.
"I mean it's cool and all, but I'm not getting caught up in what people say about us," he admitted. "This stuff is all good in its place, but we can't get away from what we need to accomplish. It should be named after Brewster because he's the big recruiter of the bunch. Obviously, we don't call ourselves that when we're together, and I guess it's mainly an internet thing. I think it is important for us to continue to try to build this class by adding great players. That is something we will continue to do."
Sweat stated that he is currently very much involved with the recruiting of several players that Ohio State is trying to woo. While going about it quietly, it appears Sweat is still a strong recruiting presence for Ohio State.
"I'm involved with Lamaar Thomas and I talk with him a lot," Sweat admitted. "I was involved with Garrett Goebel last summer. I stayed in touch with Nic DiLillo throughout his recruitment. Right now I'm talking pretty often with Terrelle Pryor and Shayne Hale. They're both Pennsylvania guys and we have gotten to be pretty tight. Both of those guys are pretty quiet guys and they're kind of private individuals. They both like Ohio State a lot, but they've got great schools still recruiting them too. They're both great guys and obviously I want both of them at Ohio State with the rest of us. I don't really want to make a guess at where they both end up, but I think Ohio State is in great shape with both of them, probably Terrelle a little bit more. I know Terrelle is really close to Coach Tressel and I think he really likes what Ohio State has to offer. He's just a really quiet guy and he's a hard guy to read sometimes. He's being pulled a lot of directions as the number one player in the country. He gets a lot of attention, but I think he handles it really well. Ohio State has a really good shot at landing Terrelle Pryor."
Sweat also spoke in detail about his fondness for the coaching staff at Ohio State, specifically linebacker coach Luke Fickell and head coach Jim Tressel.
"Throughout the entire recruiting process, Luke Fickell was the most down to earth guy and the most genuine," Sweat declared. "A lot of schools promised me I would start as a freshman and guaranteed me a lot of things, but Coach Fickell wasn't like that all. He was honest about the opportunity at Ohio State and told me that the best players play for him, regardless of their class. He promised me an honest shot, and that's all I can ask for from a coach. Last year he came to a baseball game of mine, which a lot of coaches did. They weren't allowed to talk to me, so most of them would leave after I saw they were there. Not Coach Fickell, though. He would stay the whole game and that meant a lot to me. I knew he was really busy recruiting other players, but I also knew he really cared about me. It was a bunch of little things that really set him apart from the rest. Plus, I know about the history of him helping turn out some great linebackers at Ohio State. Coach Fickell said I could play any of the three linebacker spots at Ohio State. I've never played in a 4-3 defense, so I'm looking forward to learning that defense from him."
Sweat also discussed the effect Buckeye head coach Jim Tressel had on him. He said he considers Tressel the best head coach in the country, but also respects him as a great human being.
"He's clearly the best coach in the country, in my opinion," Sweat said of his future head coach. "I just have so much respect for what he's accomplished so far and the classy manner that he conducts himself. I met a lot of great coaches throughout my recruiting process, but I never met anyone that could compare to Jim Tressel as a man. I heard so many stories about him and how great of a guy he is, and there all true as far as I can see. The players at Ohio State all love the guy and they love playing for him. I remember speaking with him last year at the Michigan game in Columbus. That game was the pinnacle of college football, and talking with Coach Tressel after experiencing that awesome game was too much for me. I remember the whole ride home just praying that Ohio State would offer me a scholarship, so that I could be a part of what is going on here. When I got my offer in December it was almost too good to be true. Truthfully, Ohio State probably won me over on the day of the Michigan game. It's hard to believe that some day I will be a part of that great rivalry. I'm just a lucky guy to have all this happen for me, and I know it. I can't wait to get my career started at Ohio State with all these great guys in our recruiting class. I think it's going to be a great ride."
Andrew Sweat clearly has the intensity and the focus that it takes to be a great linebacker. He understands what he needs to do to be successful at Ohio State, and is the ultimate team guy. Tomorrow we will take another inside look at the "Making of the Brew Crew."