Caught In A Border War

Jack Mewhort does not have it easy. As a senior from Toledo, the four-star prospect lives on the front lines of the greatest rivalry in all of sports. Find out what life has been like for Mewhort since his verbal commitment to the Buckeyes, which school is still recruiting him and what he thinks of the class of 2009 in this update.

It is hard to be inconspicuous while measuring in at 6-5½, 293 pounds. But where Jack Mewhort's size has not left a bulls-eye on his back, his decision to issue a verbal commitment to Ohio State has picked up the slack.

As a senior at Toledo (Ohio) St. John's Jesuit, Mewhort lives in a divided town. Less than one hour north lies Ann Arbor, Mich., hometown of the Michigan Wolverines. But firmly planted on the Ohio side of the border, Mewhort has pledged his services to the home team in the Buckeyes.

Needless to say, his decision to do so has changed Mewhort's day-to-day life.

"I don't want to say it's like being a celebrity, but a lot more people know who you are – especially in Toledo," he told BuckeyeSports.com. "It's a split town, so wherever you go either everybody hates you or everybody loves you."

Most of the verbal feedback he receives is positive, however.

"There will be people who will say, ‘Go Bucks,' or ‘O-H' and I say ‘I-O,' but no one really says anything negative in public," he said. "You'll get the stares from someone wearing a Michigan hat or something like that, but it just comes with the package."

Although Mewhort is a four-star offensive tackle prospect and ranked by Scout.com as the No. 12 player at his position in the country, his commitment to the Buckeyes before the calendar even changed over to 2008 has been somewhat of the under-the-radar variety.

As such, Mewhort was proactive throughout the spring and took in a few combines in an effort to raise his profile.

"I went to a few combines just because I'm not sure a lot of people knew who I was or if I was the real deal so I went out there," he said. "I'll let people judge how I did, but I went out and competed and I feel like I did pretty well. I have been working really hard lifting and getting into shape. I've lost a few pounds just because football is coming up and I want to be able to move. I feel like I'm in pretty good shape."

At one combine in Cincinnati, Mewhort said he was timed at 4.7 seconds in the shuttle run, a testament to his efforts to improve his speed.

Ohio State offensive line coach Jim Bollman has told Mewhort that his future will be as a member of the interior line. That is just fine with Mewhort.

"Wherever I can get on the field, that's where I want to play," he said.

Mewhort's verbal commitment to the Buckeyes has not stopped every school from trying to convince him to change his mind. He said that Michigan State "still actively recruits me," but that he is firm on his verbal pledge to OSU.

"There is nothing that I don't love about Ohio State," he said. "I love (OSU head coach Jim Tressel) and I think it would be semi-disrespectful for me to take another visit. I have no reason to either because I know where I want to be for the next few years of my life. I made a commitment to be there."

Last season, Mewhort said he paid particularly close attention to how OSU right tackle Kirk Barton and Michigan left tackle Jake Long played. The toughness each brought to the table was something that has stuck with him, he said.

Looking at the class of 2009, Mewhort said he has already developed friendships with some of his fellow early verbal commitments.

"The guy I talk to probably the most is (Johnny Simon)," Mewhort said. "I just talked to him today actually, so I'm pretty close with him and Jamie Wood and Storm Klein and Adam Homan – the guys that committed real early, that committed around the same time that I did. Those are the guys I talk to the most, but I do talk to Melvin Fellows a lot and Corey Linsley."

Linsley joins Mewhort and Bellbrook, Ohio, tackle Sam Longo as offensive linemen in the class of 2009. Although he has not spoken yet with Longo, Mewhort said he has built a solid friendship with Linsley.

"He's really cool," Mewhort said of Linsley. "We just talk about normal stuff. We don't really talk football. We've become pretty close through the process and it's just cool to have met guys like that and you know they're going to be your friends for the next four or five years."

And as the class nears maximum capacity, Mewhort is excited about the potential that lies ahead for the Buckeyes.

"I think it's a good problem for the staff," he said. "Everyone wants to play for Ohio State and I have no problem with that. I don't really know what the number situation is, but I think it's great that all these big-time players want to come play for the Buckeyes. I think it's awesome and it's cool to be a part of it."


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