With a scholarship from Ohio State tucked away since the Christmas season, Jack Mewhort of St. John High School in Toledo was in Cleveland back on May 6 honing his skills at an elite skills camp.
“I’m here to compete,” said the rather massive offensive lineman on a sun-shiny day at Cleveland Browns Stadium. “I haven’t been to a combine for a really long time. I’ve just been at my school lifting and I just wanted to get out there and compare myself to other guys and just compete. That’s the bottom line.”
Mewhort, who became the fourth recruit of the class of 2009 for Ohio State, was also mining the combine in order to help add to the quality of an already solid recruiting class.
“I see guys like Marcus (Hall) and Jon Newsome out here and I like talking with these guys and telling them the right place to be,” Mewhort said. “But that’s pretty much it.”
At 6-6 and 295 pounds now, Mewhort moved fairly well at the combine for someone who made the big offensive tackle from Glenville look somewhat small when they stood side-by-side.
“My lifting condition is a lot different from my football condition right now,” Mewhort said. “I’m probably storing more body fat than I should be right now but I’ll be working hard on it during two-a-days and I’ll be back in football shape. So I’m not really worried about it. I feel like I’m in pretty good shape right now. I’m getting a lot stronger and my footwork is good so I’m happy with it.”
It was obviously a great Christmas season for Mewhort who was offered a scholarship to Ohio State on Dec. 21 and committed to Doc Tressel and then Jim Tressel on Dec. 28.
“They were one of my first offers and I didn’t wait too long. I waited a week,” he said. “I knew it was the place for me. It was close to home and my sister goes to college near Ohio State ( Wittenberg ), I think she might transfer to Ohio State , so it’s good to be by her. I love Coach Bollman and Coach (Jim) Tressel, they’re great guys and they’re gurus, so I just know that’s my spot.”
Ohio State initially started a relationship with Mewhort during his sophomore season at St. John but he never really imagined it escalating to this point.
“They were coming to my school during my sophomore year talking to me but I never really thought I was a good enough player to go there until they came in and said we’re going to offer me a scholarship,” Mewhort said. “So it was really cool and I accepted it a week later.”
Hailing from the Northwest corner of the state, Mewhort admitted he wasn’t necessarily a Buckeye fan growing up but he wasn’t a fan of any college team in general for that matter.
“I never watched a lot of college football. I don’t like watching sports, I’d rather play them than watch them,” he said. “So I was never a fan of anybody until I got to go down to Ohio State and then I knew that’s where I was supposed to be.”
So when he finally was able to give a verbal commitment to Ohio State it was quite the accomplishment.
“It was really exciting knowing that I just got everything over with and I could focus on my senior season, helping my teammates and everything. So it was awesome,” Mewhort said. “When I was a sophomore I would go on all the recruiting websites and see these guys going to Ohio State and I never saw myself in that position. So that’s when I really started working hard for this offer and when I finally got it, it was just amazing.”
A seemingly outgoing and gregarious personality, Mewhort is certainly a nice fit for a recruiting class that has to follow in the wake of the highly-touted Brew Crew. When he and Hall were first introduced to each other at the Browns combine, Mewhort tried to give him a big playful hug while the two were involved in a photo opportunity together.
“I’m real tight with John (Simon), he’s one of the first guys after I committed that I started talking to,” Mewhort said. “I’m pretty close with Storm Klein, Jamie Wood and Zach Boren and all of those guys and I’m starting to get to know other guys like Marcus and Jonathan. I just want to reach out and tell everybody that Ohio State is the place to be.”
Mewhort is all but certain to anchor the offensive line at either center or guard at some point during his career as a Buckeye. He’s been the starting center for the Titans since the start of his sophomore campaign.
“I started playing center my sophomore year in high school because I was the only one…they said ‘Jack we need a center,’ so I stepped up and I figured it out real fast,” he said. “I was one of the only ones on my team that could snap and I learned the plays really fast so that was a big part of it. So I just ended up playing there.”
And after two seasons at the position now, Mewhort thinks that could indeed be his position of the future if Ohio State wants him to play there.
“I’m really comfortable at center because I’ve never played anything else in high school, for the varsity that is. So that’s where I’m most comfortable right now,” Mewhort said. “But I don’t think I’d have much of a problem moving to guard or anywhere else because, I figure, if I can learn center then I can learn anything else.”
Although he obviously has the physical size to play on the outside at tackle, Mewhort has been told by some in the coaching fraternity that he has the requisite skills needed to play the center position at the next level.
“Some say it’s my quick hands and my down-block that they like about me playing center,” Mewhort said, “so I don’t know.”
As far as the mental aspect of playing center is concerned, one thing Mewhort does know is that he likes to watch Ohio State’s current center Jim Cordle play the position to see if he can learn a thing or two from him during a game.
“Jimmy Cordle is my guy and I always watch him,” Mewhort said. “He’s so smart and he knows everything so I’d love to model my game after him. He’s just someone I look up to.”
Mewhort also knows that the competition will be stiff at Ohio State no matter what position he plays during his career as a Buckeye. After the tremendous haul of offensive linemen in the recruiting class of ’08, Mewhort along with the verbal commitment from Corey Linsley of Boardman have Ohio State ’s efforts of collecting offensive linemen off to another solid start in ’09.
“Competition is a great thing and you can never have enough depth on the offensive line,” Mewhort said. “I wouldn’t be going down to Columbus if I was afraid of the competition. So that’s where I’ve got to be.”
But first, his senior season at the Jesuit school in Toledo is where he’s going to be and he’s excited about that. The Division I, Region 2 Titans have made the playoffs in each of the past three previous seasons and they were sent home after a first-round loss to North Canton Hoover last year.
“I’m really excited. We’ve got a good team back and we’ve got some really fast guys like Ian Gaston and Hunter Lent,” Mewhort said. “We’re really tough and we’re really close knit and we’re just hoping to do big things and make the playoffs again.”
And then he’ll be off to Ohio State where just the thought of being a Buckeye gets him really excited.
“I just think of tough, hard-nosed football,” said Mewhort when asked what he thinks of most when he thinks of the Ohio State program. “I’ve been down there and I’ve seen them play in the spring game and I’ve seen them practice, and I’ve seen how Coach Bollman runs things. They’re hard-asses and I like that about them.”
It sounds as if Ohio State is the perfect fit for him.
“I like everything about Ohio State ,” said Mewhort who intends to attend the first senior football camp at Ohio State on June 8. “I like the coaches, the facilities, everything. The fan base is huge. There was 76,000 people out in the rain for a spring game which was awesome. So there’s nothing I don’t like about the program.”
Jack Mewhort and Marcus Hall