COLUMBUS - There's not usually a "low profile" option available to someone who stands 6-foot-6 and weighs 290 pounds, but Jack Mewhort has found a place where he just sort of blends in with the surroundings.
The former standout for St. John's Jesuit is close to completing his first spring football practice period at Ohio State, and it became evident from the day he arrived that Mewhort was no longer casting the biggest shadow on the field.
"You go from high school and being the all-star and the biggest, strongest guy on the field, and then coming in here where you're just another one of the guys," Mewhort said last week as the Buckeyes worked out in preparation for Saturday's Scarlet & Gray Spring Game in Ohio Stadium.
"That's probably the biggest adjustment - the size and the strength and the speed of everybody else. It's all work - it's a physical game."
Mewhort, who dominated the opposition as an All-City League and All-Ohio offensive lineman for the Titans, was recruited by a number of Big Ten schools but committed as a junior to Ohio State. He graduated early from St. John's, enrolled at Ohio State in January, and has been assimilating into the Buckeyes program.
"Here, everybody is as big and strong and as fast as everybody else, so it's all about technique, knowing the plays, using your head and being smart," he said. "It's just a lot different than high school.
Doug Pearson, Mewhort's coach at St. John's, said the fierce competition for roster sports in a premier program like Ohio State's can present a steep challenge to any new player.
"Jack's doing pretty well, but we need to remember that he just turned 18, and a lot of the guys he's playing against and competing with - those are men, 22 or 23 years old," Pearson said.
"And those guys on the other side on defense - they're bringing it every play because they're trying to earn their position, too. It is one tough environment, but I'm sure if Jack can stay healthy, he'll do just fine."
Mewhort has been working primarily at left tackle this spring, but OSU offensive coordinator and line coach Jim Bollman said Mewhort is versatile enough to play any line position.
"I don't know what [position] Jack will end up playing, but there's a lot of flexibility there. He could play anywhere," Bollman said.
Mewhort is part of what appears to be a very fluid and still evolving picture along the Ohio State offensive line.
"There are a lot of new faces, lots of guys shuffling around, and we're looking at lots of combinations," Bollman said.
Although the Buckeyes normally redshirt most of their offensive line recruits to give them an additional year to gain strength and learn the system, Mewhort said Bollman has told him to approach spring practice with the intention of playing this fall for Ohio State.
"Coach said to come in with the mentality that we're not going to redshirt, so right now, I don't have the redshirt mentality," Mewhort said. "Further on down the road, I'll have a better idea about all that stuff. Now, my head is spinning a lot with all of the plays and everything, but there's nowhere to go but up, and I'm just going to keep learning."
Mewhort was recently selected to play for the USA Football 2009 Junior National Team in a world championship tournament in Canton, Ohio, this summer. He said the event will give him another chance to improve against top competition.
"I was really excited about it, so I jumped at the opportunity to represent my country," he said. "It's awesome to get picked. I'm not going to have another opportunity like this - it's like the Olympics for football."
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There's not usually a "low profile" option available to someone who stands 6-foot-6 and weighs 290 pounds, but Jack Mewhort has found a place where he just sort of blends in with the surroundings.