INDIANAPOLIS – Fifty-eight picks may have gone off the board but when Ryan Grigson was able to take guard
“He has the skill set and intangibles to hit his ceiling relatively fast. He’s been able to play at a high level versus quality opponents in the Big Ten for a while now.”
In the whirlwind of the draft and with a barrage of questions of where he will fit in, Rudyard Kipling would smile when seeing Mewhort’s calm in the storm.
“I don’t specifically know where I’ll be playing,” said Mewhort, “but I’ll be an offensive lineman for the Colts. That’s all that matters to me.”
Linemen typically are the last to draw attention to themselves, and they historically are the position group one heads to when intelligent conversation and leadership is sought in a locker room.
Urban Meyer arrived at Ohio State two years into Mewhort’s career. It did not take long for the decorated coach to see a definite talent.
“Right way, we knew right away,” said Meyer. “We took over the end of his sophomore year. I knew it because he was talented. I didn’t know he would be a second-round pick. I thought (then) he might be a free agent, but he worked himself into it.
“He got rid of body fat and got real strong. He flourished under our line coach (Ed Warinner). I thought he might go in the first round this year. He’s a great worker.”
Ohio State went unbeaten in Meyer’s first season, one where he credited a line led by Mewhort as a major reason for the achievement.
Entering last season, Meyer knew who he wanted to be the Buckeyes’ leader.
“I let the team vote, but that one was out of their hands,” said Meyer. “He was going to be the number one captain on our team.”
Mewhort performed as expected, leading the Big Ten with 24 touchdown-resulting blocks among 115 knockdowns. Ohio State set seasonal records for points, total touchdowns, rushing yards and rushing scores. The Buckeyes reached the Orange Bowl.
“Every game, he was the center of focus in the locker room,” said Meyer. “He would say something to the team on the sideline during a game. In tough situations, he was the guy who rallied the players.”
“I bought into him right away,” said Mewhort. “I’d known what he’s done with a lot of different programs. I bought in right away and dedicated myself to working hard and making sure he knew I was a competitor. I think it goes back to my work ethic.”
The ethic comes from a stable home environment in Toledo, Ohio. His father, Don, played basketball at Wittenberg. An older sister played golf, while a younger one is an equestrian. Mewhort says competing was ingrained, while his mother, Gail, is more “artistic.”
“(My father) gave me a lot of my work ethic when I was young. He showed me how to work, taught me how to compete,” said Mewhort. “He wasn’t a football player. He was a basketball player – tough, hard-nosed, smart and was a competitor.
“It was a good balance to have in my family. I could go compete and come home and have my mom to talk to about everything.”
Mewhort is adapting to his football family here because it always has been that way. He says he never has been a guy with “one defined position.” He also does not see his achievements as coming easily.
“I wouldn’t say it’s natural,” said Mewhort. “It’s taken me a lot of hard work over the years to learn different positions and different techniques.
“It’s a whole different game here. I’m learning all over again how to play football. It’s such a high level, the technique and speed of the game. It’s something I’ve grinded at over the years. That’s what I’m going to continue to do.”
Pagano is seeing Mewhort at a professional outset. He has seen the production in an elite college program and Meyer does not doubt Pagano will benefit just as he did the past two seasons.
“Jack’s a very smart guy. He’s a guy other than football, there’s not a whole lot,” said Meyer. “He’s a great student, comes from a great family and he’s committed to becoming a great player.
It’s non-stop studying the game. He’s very knowledgeable.”
A Superhero? Mr. Incredible? Meyer knows.
“The best thing about him is his toughness. He plays through injury. You have to pull him out of the game to stop him because he won’t stop.”