Ohio State's Jack Mewhort (74) is greeted by head coach Urban Meyer during senior day.
COLUMBUS — Playing football in the Big Ten is hard enough.
Doing it early in the final home game of a college career you’ve called a dream is another thing altogether.
Left tackle Jack Mewhort received the highest honor for an Ohio State senior before Saturday’s game against Indiana, and emotions were raw.
While backup quarterback Kenny Guiton received the loudest cheers when the Buckeyes’ 18 seniors were introduced, it was the player Meyer calls the heart of the team announced last — a distinction traditionally reserved for the Buckeyes’ top leader or star.
GAME STORY: Buckeyes are Leaders of the pack
Mewhort ran across the field, shook coach Urban Meyer’s hand, and embraced his parents, Don and Gail.
"My mom and dad were both a wreck," said Mewhort, a St. John’s Jesuit graduate. "It was kind of weird. You've got a game to play and you've got crying parents here. ... My dad usually plays it off. He doesn't get emotional often. When I see him like that, it kind of gets to me a little bit. I expected my mom to be in tears. It was a special moment. I know they're proud of me, and I’m just trying to make them proud. It was a great day."
Mewhort, whose least favorite subject in talking to reporters is Jack Mewhort, afterward said he did not deserve to be the last player announced. He pointed to his close friend and fellow captain, safety Christian Bryant, who was introduced just before him. Bryant, who endured a season-ending broken ankle in September, followed through on his pledge to walk across the field after spending the past two months on crutches.
"All those guys who ran out before me have done a lot of great things in their careers here," Mewhort said. "It's an honor. I didn't read too much into it, but I really appreciate coach Meyer for putting me last."
Along with Mewhort, Bryant, and Guiton, the other seniors honored were safety C.J. Barnett, kicker Drew Basil, guard Ivon Blackmon, safety Corey "Pitt" Brown, receiver Corey "Philly" Brown, receiver Chris Fields, cornerback Adam Griffin, running back Jordan Hall, guard Marcus Hall, tailback Carlos Hyde, center Corey Linsley, long snapper George Makridis, guard Andrew Norwell, and safety Jamie Wood.
Junior linebacker Craig Cataline, a 25-year-old Navy veteran who starts on special teams, and fourth-year junior cornerback Bradley Roby were also recognized. The All-American Roby plans to enter the NFL Draft.
MUTUAL ADMIRATION: Hyde said he chuckled when the public address announcer informed the crowd he had passed the 1,000-yard rushing mark.
"It was right during a play," he said.
The feat didn’t escape notice from another group, either.
The guys blocking for Hyde, who became Meyer’s first running back to reach 1,000 yards in 12 years as a head coach, may have been just as proud.
"It's really cool because as an offensive lineman, you don't really show up on the stat sheet," Mewhort said. "What Carlos does is kind of a reflection on us as offensive linemen. That's not to take anything away from him. He's a workhorse and he's got great vision."
Despite being suspended the first three games, Hyde has rushed for 1,064 yards and 13 touchdowns.
WINTER CHALLENGE: How much would Meyer like to see a Southeastern Conference visit a snow-swept Horseshoe?
"Do we want a southern team up here in December?" he said, smiling. "You’re trying to get me. I’m not going to answer that."