Making Of The O-Niners: Jack Mewhort

Toledo St. John's Jesuit lineman Jack Mewhort was one of the early commitments in the 2009 Ohio State recruiting class. Mewhort has been a mainstay on the offensive line, from his center position, since his sophomore season. Bill Greene takes a closer look at Jack Mewhort in the latest edition of "The Making of the O-Niners."

Toledo St. John's Jesuit star center Jack Mewhort was one of the earliest commits in the 2009 Ohio State recruiting class. Standing 6-5 and weighing 300 pounds automatically makes people take notice of Mewhort's size, and it has always been that way for him.

"I started playing flag football for my dad when I was ten years old," Mewhort said. "I was too big to be able to run the football, according to the league rules, so that's why I became a lineman. Once I started playing tackle football in middle school it just seemed like I was destined to be a lineman. I fell in love with football at an early age, and once I became a varsity starter as a sophomore, you might say I was hooked on the game. Between my freshman and sophomore years I grew four inches and gained sixty pounds, and it just seemed like I stayed pretty coordinated during that growth spurt. I liked playing basketball and baseball as a youngster, but once I got to high school I was all about football."

Mewhort explained how a lineman can love the game of football even though he never gets to touch the football in the course of a game.

"I just love being a lineman, and I wouldn't want to be a pretty-boy skill player," he said with a laugh. "When a running back scores a touchdown it's a reflection on the offensive line, and that's good enough for me. I get a lot of joy of being on the goal line, and we smash our men backwards so the back can get into the end zone. It's probably hard for people to understand that have never played the game before how satisfying that really is."

The physical play in the trenches is what makes Mewhort tick, as he prides himself on being a player that thrives on contact.

"The most fun thing in my life is being able to physically pound someone into the ground on the football field," he said. "If I did these things on the street, like smashing someone in the face with your helmet, I would go to jail. It's just a great way to relieve the stress from having a bad day, when I know I can physically crush another player if I'm good enough. To me that's just so awesome, and I know the guy opposite me feels the same way. When they get a good shot on me that just motivates me to note that guy's number, and I start planning right then to get even with him. I would never take a cheap shot on anyone, and I hate when players do that, but if it's within the rules, then anything goes. I love getting hit, and I respect any player that can get one in on me, but my goal every play is to drive my man into the ground. Any lineman who doesn't feel that way is worthless to me. Being big and quick is very important to being successful as an offensive lineman, but being flat out mean is far more important, at least to me. If you don't have the right attitude when you take the field you will not be successful at my position. A receiver can be a little soft, but you can't be soft to play my spot, and you better be a nasty freaking jerk out on the field."

Mewhort knows he is far from a finished product as a football player, and he's continually working to improve his game.

"I need to get so much better as a player, and I'm prepared to do whatever I have to do to succeed at Ohio State," he said. "I'm going in next January for the purpose of getting a headstart on my career. I know next spring I'm going to be blocking Robert Rose, or Cam Heyward, and I need to be a better player than I was two weeks ago to make it at Ohio State. I need to be there in January, and be able to go through their conditioning program, far more than I need to have fun the rest of my senior year. I need to be mentally sharper and physically stronger to be able to measure up to the caliber of player I'm going to see next year. I know I will never face a bad player again in my career, because at that level there are no bad players. I plan on living in the weight room until I get to Ohio State, and then I will follow whatever program they set for me. I've been watching the Ohio State linemen all year, and I'm trying to get myself prepared to be able to compete next year."

As he watches the Buckeye offensive linemen, Mewhort was quick to single out one player he is particularly impressed with.

"My main man is Mike Brewster, no doubt about that," Mewhort said. "We are only one year apart, and I watch what he does on the field. It's amazing that he's able to be a starter as a true freshman, and he's going to be a great player as he gets more experience. I figure if I do everything the way he does, then I might put myself in a good spot to learn the position. I know I'm not going to be like Mike and start as a freshman, but I figure if I try to follow his lead, I might be able to be a contributor some day. You could say he's been a mentor to me, both on and off the field."

Last year, Brewster was a key part in Ohio State putting together a tremendous recruiting class. Then a high school senior, Brewster helped recruit his future teammates by calling and text messaging them when they were still uncommitted. That effort made quite an impression on Mewhort.

"I will never forget that within hours of committing to Ohio State, I received a text message from a number I didn't recognize, welcoming me into the Buckeye family," Mewhort recalled. "It was from Mike Brewster, and I had never spoken to the guy in my life. We started talking at that point, and we've become pretty good friends. We actually talk a lot. He started guiding me through the process of contacting other players, and how to try to recruit them. As I got closer to the guys in my class, like Storm Klein and Johnny Simon, we all started following Brewster's advice, and we tried to help recruit another great class."

Even though common knowledge was that the 2009 class would never be able to compare to the way Brewster, Mike Adams, Jake Stoneburner and DeVier Posey recruited their future teammates, it's become quite apparent that the early 2009 commits have done a very comparable job.

"I knew some of the early Ohio State recruits like Storm Klein, Adam Homan and Johnny Simon from the recruiting process," Mewhort said. "We became pretty close last winter when the first group of us committed. Zach Boren, Klein and Homan will be enrolling early with me, and we're all excited to get to Columbus and start our career. We're all pretty good students too, and that means a lot to me. Getting a degree from Ohio State is the most important part of me going there. My education will always come first, and that's just the type of person I am, and what my parents have always stressed."

Mewhort is unlike many high school football stars because he does not see his college career as a stepping-stone to the NFL. He is determined to succeed academically at Ohio State, just in case that is the last football he plays in his life.

"I'm going to major in business at Ohio State, and I hope to use my degree, and the contacts I make, to be successful after I leave school," he said. "I'm giving up the second half of my senior year, because I know I need to get started immediately to be able to compete athletically at Ohio State. I also want to get started on my academic career as well. I did everything that was required of me in high school to put myself in this position. My parents supported my decision, as did the entire St. John's community. I'm not going to play in the NFL in all likelihood, so I absolutely must get my degree. I'm not a super-talented lineman like Mike Adams or Brewster, so my future depends upon me graduating from Ohio State University."

Mewhort never believed he was the type of player that Ohio State would recruit, and was stunned to learn of the Buckeyes' interest in him.

"I remember my sophomore year when Jim Tressel was in Toledo, and there was a rumor going around that he would be stopping at St. John's," he stated. "I was wondering why he would be visiting our school, because I didn't think we had any Ohio State-type players. When one of my coaches came and got me because Coach Tressel wanted to meet me, I almost went into shock. Even after I met the man it wasn't like I thought they would ever want me, even though I'd loved Ohio State my whole life. Even after they did offer me after my junior year, I wondered why would they offer me, because I never thought I was good enough."

Getting an offer to play football for Ohio State was beyond Mewhort's wildest dreams. He still remembers that day as one of the greatest days of his life.

"Wow, what a day that was, and I'll never forget it," Mewhort said of receiving his Buckeye offer. "During winter exams, my coach pulled me out of class and said he needed to see me in his office, and he was real serious. I was thinking that some teacher reported me for saying something out of line, but I knew it was important. When I got to his office, he told me to sit down, and he told me that the Buckeyes were offering me a scholarship. I about died on the spot. It was like a dream, and I couldn't believe what I was hearing. I never thought in a million years that would be good enough to play for the Buckeyes. To hear those words was the best thing that has ever happened to me, and I knew in my heart that I wouldn't even consider any other school in the country."

That same week Mewhort received offers from Northwestern and Michigan State, and both schools impressed him greatly, but the Ohio State offer trumped all others, and the commitment was all but a done deal.

"Getting the offers from Michigan State and Northwestern were better offers than I ever thought I would receive," he remembered. "Heck, I was honored to be offered by Toledo and Bowling Green, so I was thrilled to think I could play in the Big Ten. I went to Ohio State for the Akron game, but I never thought they were all that interested in me. I talked to (offensive line coach) Jim Bollman a little bit, but I never felt like he wanted me to play for him. When I got the official Ohio State offer, that was the point I knew they wanted me, and I knew they felt I could play for them. Even my parents were surprised, and they thought I was lying at first. When they realized I was serious, they just flipped out, but they wanted me to think about it, and not commit right away. My feeling was that I'm an Ohio kid, and there's no place I'd rather play, so why wait? I waited one week, and it was unbearable, so I told my dad at breakfast that I had to commit to Ohio State. I was the fourth commit, behind Jordan Whiting, Storm Klein and John Simon. That meant a lot to me."

Mewhort had seen the other commits at Ohio State football games, but didn't have a real close relationship with them prior to committing.

"Simon committed one day before I did, and I was so excited to know I was going to be teammates with a monster like John," he said. "Once I committed, Storm and John started calling and text messaging me all the time, and the ball started rolling. Soon after, we added Adam Homan, and then it was Jamie Wood. Last winter was such an exciting time seeing all of this come together. Then it all fell into place at the spring game when we picked up Melvin Fellows, Dorian Bell and Jordan Hall. Landing Melvin was the first real coup of our class. We were messing around all day, and hanging out together, even though he was still committed to Illinois. Melvin just became one of the family that weekend, and we knew he would be committing to Ohio State in a short time. It was funny to see Storm get up in Dorian Bell's face at the spring game and flat out tell him we needed him to be a Buckeye, and that he'd better be committing pretty soon. Of course, Dorian committed within a week, and we all kidded Storm that he scared Dorian into committing. That weekend was the beginning of some friendships that will last a lifetime for me. That was when I really realized just what it meant to be a Buckeye, and to be part of the family. I know how blessed I am."

Mewhort exhibits a maturity well beyond his years, and it's easy to see why he's been so successful to this point in his life. He has a clear vision of what he expects to accomplish at Ohio State.

"I'm hopeful of being a starter some day for Ohio State," he said. "If that never happens at least I can say I played for Jim Tressel. I will get my degree, and hopefully make some connections that will help me get a great job after graduation. After college, there's a good chance that football will be over for me, so my degree is the main focus in my life. Playing in the NFL is not part of my future plans at all, and that might surprise a lot of people. I see these linemen that run 4.8 forty-yard dash times, and are as athletic as skill people, and that's just not me. It's unrealistic to base your life on playing in the NFL, because the odds are so long, and I'm not setting myself up for failure like that. I don't have any thoughts about playing NFL football, but maybe things could change in three or four years. I know I'm going to get great coaching at Ohio State from Jim Tressel and Jim Bollman, and if I don't succeed it will be my fault, not theirs. They feel I can be a good player at Ohio State playing center or guard, and I'm thrilled with that. I'm going to be playing for my family, my teammates and my coaches, and I never want to let anyone down. I want to be looked at as a true Buckeye when I leave Ohio State, and I pray that I never embarrass this program in any way, on or off the field. I want to represent Ohio State the same way Jim Tressel represents this school, with class and honor."

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