Mewhort Helps Lead Team USA Toward Gold

Team USA cruised to its second blowout victory in four days with a 55-0 shellacking of Mexico Wednesday night in the IFAF Junior World Championship. Next up is a gold medal final game against Canada this Sunday. One of the stars of Team USA is Ohio State freshman offensive lineman Jack Mewhort. Bill Greene has the latest on Mewhort's exploits with Team USA.

Jack Mewhort's heart was nearly beating out of his chest as he carried the United States flag, and led Team USA onto the field to play Mexico Thursday evening at Fawcett Stadium in Canton, Ohio.

Although Team USA rolled to an easy 55-0 victory in the IFAF Junior World Championship contest, the excitement of the moment certainly left a mark on the normally unemotional Mewhort, a freshman offensive tackle at Ohio State.

"I'm not a guy who shows much emotion out there but this was the American flag I was holding," Mewhort said softly. "I felt honored to be able to lead my teammates out onto the field. All I could think of was that people have died fighting for that flag, so to be able to come out to play a game I love representing my country was quite a moment. I will never forget that feeling no matter what I experience in football the rest of my life. It was more than I could ask for to receive this great honor. Before the game Coach [Chuck] Kyle told me I was carrying the flag and I went out there to do my best to honor my country."

Mewhort was understandably impressed with the dominant performance of his teammates in the semi-final game.

"Our defense is just plain nasty," he said admiringly. "With the way they're playing it's going to be hard for anyone to score on them. We know Canada will be a tough opponent on Sunday, but if we come out with the same intensity defensively we will be tough to beat."

For this young lineman, who played his high school football for Toledo St. John's, the decision to play with Team USA was an easy one.

"A chance to win a gold medal was something I couldn't pass up," Mewhort said with pride. "Only a few people get a chance to win a gold medal in their lifetime and our 45 guys have bought into that dream. I don't see how any football player could turn this down and we hope to make history on Sunday with a win over Canada."

Mewhort enrolled at Ohio State last January and has already gone through spring practice with the Buckeyes.

"The jump to playing Big Ten football was an eye-opener for me," Mewhort said with a smile. "I loved playing in the spring game and being able to go against guys like Thad Gibson, Doug Worthington and Dexter Larimore. I got to go against the best in the business in front of 100,000 people. I know I have a long way to go but I'm working hard every day to get better. If I can prove myself early in fall camp I have a chance to be in the rotation next year on the offensive line."

The Buckeye offensive line appears to be a position of strength for 2009. Mewhort hopes to be able to contribute to their success.

"I love playing with these guys and I'm learning every day I'm with them," he stressed. "In my opinion, Justin Boren is the best guard in the Big Ten. Watching Boren in practice is a great learning experience for me. I love the way he comes off the snap very low and just kills people out there. He's awesome to watch. I've learned a lot by being around great football players. I'm not sure if I will be red-shirting or not. Coach [Jim] Bollman tells me to think like I'm going to be playing. He said if I haven't seen action by the third game, then I will go ahead and red-shirt. We'll see how it pans out."

Mewhort also spoke candidly about his feelings about his often-criticized offensive line coach, Jim Bollman.

"Coach Bollman is the best offensive line coach in the country, bar none," Mewhort said passionately. "I've read the criticism on the internet and it's total garbage. The people doing the complaining have probably never played, or coached, at this level for one day. Coach Bollman is the reason I'm at Ohio State and a lot of our linemen would say the same thing. If he wasn't at Ohio State there's a good chance I might not be there either. He's been a success at the college level and in the NFL. I have total confidence in him, and I know if I follow everything he's telling me that I have a chance to be a good football player. The guys from Ohio State that are playing in the NFL all rave about the preparation they received from Coach Bollman, and I'm seeing it every day at Ohio State."

For now, Mewhort's focus is not on playing football for Ohio State, rather he's consumed with winning the gold medal.

"This is something I will remember forever and I want to win this game more than any game I've ever played in," he admitted. "These players have bonded into a family and it would be awesome to be able to win a gold medal with these guys and our coaches. I'm going to give everything I have on Sunday against Canada."

Team USA will play Canada for the gold medal at 1 p.m. on Sunday afternoon. The game will be televised by Fox College Sports.

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