Sweat was one of the top linebacker prospects in the country heading into his senior season. I'll never forget the first time I met this young man.
The 2007 Scout Combine in Pittsburgh featured many of the top players in the Midwest and Sweat's appearance, along with other heavyweights such as Shayne Hale and Devoe Torrence, ensured the event would be a huge success.
An unknown sophomore linebacker from Canton South, Mike McKinney, was also on hand, his first appearance at such an event. McKinney was a player I knew very well and it was evident he was a little intimidated by the talent surrounding him.
Even though I had never met Andrew Sweat, I went to him and asked if he would take McKinney under his wing and befriend the younger player. Sweat did more than that, sticking with McKinney and encouraging the youngster repeatedly throughout the camp.
That told me all I needed to know about the character and upbringing of Andrew Sweat. I became a fan of Sweat that day and that hasn't changed two years later, as you will see in the following interview.
Greene: Andrew, the last time we spoke in person was the Scout Combine in Pittsburgh before your senior season, and you were the Big Dog at that event. What was the difference between high school and Ohio State?
Sweat: "Obviously, everyone is a great player at Ohio State. Nearly every player at my position was a high school All-American. At this level it's all about work ethic and attitude. It's not about talent because every single player on this roster has a lot of talent. So much of being a success in college is about putting in the work and believing in yourself. You can't get down on yourself when things don't go right. The competition is too great to spend even one day feeling sorry for yourself. You have to come to work each day with a championship attitude."
Greene: Where do you stand right now in the Ohio State depth chart?
Sweat: "I'm second team right now behind Ross Homan at the Will linebacker position. Ross is a great player and a great guy. I've learned a lot from him. I'm hoping to play more this year because I think I'm mentally and physically ready to contribute to this team."
Greene: Will you play special teams again this year?
Sweat smiling broadly: "Absolutely. Right now that's my main contribution to this team and it's also a way to prove to the coaches that I can play at this level. I take it very seriously and I enjoy it."
Greene: Andrew, what have you done this past season to make yourself a better football player?
Sweat: "The simple answer is that I work hard every single day. Physically, I've put in a lot of time in the weight room. I'm 6-foot-2 and I weigh 235 pounds, so I'm in the best shape of my life. I think I'm faster than I've ever been. I think I'm ready. From the mental aspect, I've buried myself in the playbook to eliminate the mental mistakes that are common with young players. I can honestly say that a day never goes by throughout the year that I don't do something that will make me a better football player."
Greene: What are your goals for this coming season?
Sweat: "That's pretty easy to answer. I want to get on the field at linebacker to show what I can do at my position. I also want to play great on special teams, because I'm counted on to do my job in that aspect. Special team play is very important to the coaching staff, so it's very important to me, too. You would probably get the same answer from every player, but I just want to be looked at as a contributor to this football team. By whatever means I can contribute."
Greene: You had a lot of great scholarship offers. Any second thoughts on choosing Ohio State?
Sweat: "No second thoughts at all! Are you kidding me? It's awesome here, plain and simple. It's close to home and it's the best school in the country. What more could I ask for?
Greene: What about playing for Luke Fickell? Everybody loves him as a recruiter. What about him as your position coach?
Sweat: "He's awesome as a coach. I think he's the best linebacker coach in the country. Look at the guys he's developed. Everybody gets better as a player under Coach Fickell. He's really demanding and he's a perfectionist, so you better get prepared to do things his way. If you listen to him, he will make you the best player you can be. We have a great relationship and I respect his knowledge of the position so much."
Greene: Andrew, can this team win the national championship in 2009?
Sweat: "I can honestly say we've done everything to this point to be in that position. Obviously, you need a lot of things to go your way. I would say that we absolutely can win every game this year. We have the talent, the coaching and I think this team is driven to win football games."