Jack Mewhort had reached his most fantastic of dreams, only to feel like he was dreaming all over again.
The scene on the television in the former Ohio State left tackle’s Sylvania home Friday night did not seem real.
"It was like I was watching in the third person from a dream," he said.
Mewhort already knew the Indianapolis Colts would select him with the 59th overall pick of the NFL draft. Gathered in the living room with his parents and two sisters, an Indianapolis area code had popped up on his phone about 10 minutes earlier. He spoke first with Colts owner Jim Irsay, who then passed his cell around to team officials — including special assistant and fellow St. John’s Jesuit graduate Rob Chudzinski.
Already, Mewhort had watched his father, Don, break down.
"Just lost it," he said. "Big softie."
Yet as the family watched former Colts receiver Marvin Harrison officially announce the pick at Radio City Music Hall, the emotions returned in full.
"Surreal," Mewhort said. "You start playing football in the fourth grade, and in the back of your mind, you kind of always have that goal to make it to the top of the Christmas tree. Obviously, I haven’t done anything in the NFL yet. But to have the opportunity to play for a great organization like this, it’s something you dream about. I’m really touched by them giving me the opportunity, and I’m grateful. I’m ready to get to work."
For Mewhort, the night marked a defining milestone in a script-defying career.
He grew up in a basketball-slanted family of Michigan fans, only to become a football star at Ohio State. His path to Friday resembled a never-ending escalator, with Mewhort rising from a 200-pound backup guard on the St. John’s freshman team to a three-year varsity starter — he added four inches and 70 pounds before his sophomore season — to a ballast on the Buckeyes’ most prolific offense in school history.
Ohio State coach Urban Meyer called him one of his "favorite all-time players." Mewhort became the Buckeyes’ most respected leader and the anchor of a line that cleared the earth for the nation’s fifth-ranked rushing offense.
Now, he’s the highest Toledoan drafted since Rogers graduate and former Southern California tight end Fred Davis was selected 48th by the Washington Redskins. Former Scott guard Jim Parker, who went eighth overall to the Baltimore Colts in 1957 after an All-American career at Ohio State, remains the Glass City’s draft benchmark.
In Indianapolis, where Mewhort will be charged with protecting Pro Bowl quarterback Andrew Luck on a Colts team coming off consecutive playing appearances, an interior line position seems a likely landing place.
Even with established starters at tackle in Anthony Castonzo and Gosder Cherilus, the Colts were enamored enough with Mewhort’s versatility to make him their top pick in the draft after previously trading away their first-round selection. The 6-foot-6, 309-pound Mewhort has shown he he can play any line position, starting at center in high school and at guard and left tackle at Ohio State.
Mewhort’s agent, Mike McCartney, called Indianapolis a "great fit and a terrific organization."
"And I love the fact that he’s got an outstanding quarterback to play with," he said.
Earlier Friday, Ohio State running back Carlos Hyde stirred through the longest wait ever for the first running back to be drafted. A year after a tailback was not picked in the first round for the first time since 1963, the draft again underscored the league’s shifting emphasis. The Tennessee Titans made Washington’s Bishop Sankey the first running back selection with the 54th pick after nine receivers, seven offensive tackles, four quarterbacks, and four tight ends were off the board.
But as Hyde sagely noted at the scouting combine, "You can’t just pass the whole game." And few backs were better than the 6-foot, 230-pound Hyde, who was selected with the 57th overall pick by the San Francisco 49ers.
Hyde, who ran for 1,521 yards and 15 touchdowns in 11 games last season, joins a deep roster of running backs in San Francisco, though he could soon challenge for the starting job. Top rusher Frank Gore, 30, is in the final year of his contract and averaged a career-low 4.1 yards per carry last year.
"I'm going to definitely get in there and compete for that starting job and keep that running game alive that Frank Gore brought to it," Hyde said.
Late in the third round, the Broncos selected former Michigan offensive lineman Michael Schofield with the 95th overall pick. The three-year starter can play guard or tackle.