Lost and Found: Jack Mewhort's Leadership What Urban Meyer Covets Most

By Kyle Rowland on April 4, 2013 at 11:10a
16 Comments
Ohio State's Jack Mewhort is growing into a beast on the offensive line.

Urban Meyer has been a head coach for more than a decade now. He’s won two national titles, helped lead multiple teams to undefeated seasons and coached numerous NFL draft picks, including a No. 1 overall selection and a Heisman Trophy winner.

But through all the years and scanning all the rosters, two players stand above the hundreds of others that have put on the orange and brown, red and white, orange and blue, and scarlet and gray.

Inside Meyer’s opulent office at the Woody Hayes Athletic Center hang two jerseys: Tim Tebow and John Simon. The No. 15 and No. 54 pullovers represent the essence of leadership in Meyer's eyes. Tebow’s status is legendary, while Simon was an uplifting presence during Ohio State’s 12-0 season last year.

One story is of Simon sobbing in the locker room after the Buckeyes’ close win over Cal in September.

“I’m giving out game balls and rewards, and here’s a 6-foot-4, 260-pound grown ass man,” Meyer said. “A tough guy, one of the toughest guys I’ve ever been around. I introduce him and he loses it in front of our team.

“I start getting a terrible feeling in my stomach. I go home that night and I can’t sleep. We’re undefeated, we just beat a very talented Pac-12 team, yet there’s something seriously wrong with our program, and it started with me.”

That’s the effect Simon had on Meyer. He was able to make a 26-year coaching veteran who’d won two national championships question himself.

“I didn’t feel that anyone on our coaching staff could’ve given that same emotion that John Simon did,” Meyer said. “We weren’t giving enough.”

There won’t be a repeat occurrence with the coaches. Instead, Meyer is searching for the next jersey number to hang on his office wall. There’s an empty space awaiting the third honoree. And there’s a front-runner for that lofty position: offensive lineman Jack Mewhort.

“I think he’s the guy to watch,” Meyer told a crowd on Monday at the Hall of Fame Luncheon Club in Canton. “I walk him by my office all the time. I show him that spot.”

No pressure. Not only is it going to take Herculean leadership to win the ultimate prize, it will take Mewhort and others to push the Buckeyes to that next level.

“That’s the essence of how we’re going to do,” Meyer said. “And it’s not just because you’re a great player. It’s because you’re one of the most selfless, toughest human beings to ever play the game.”

Said Mewhort, the occupier of the No. 74 jersey: “I know Coach Meyer expects a lot out of me as far as being a leader, and I definitely want to be a guy that he can depend on. I don't want to let him down with that, so I come out here every day working and trying to improve as a leader and get everybody moving in the same direction.”

“He’s got self-discipline, self-respect, and work ethic,” Meyer said. “He’s a guy that’s tough as nails.”

Although Mewhort was a captain at Toledo St. John’s, he said the role does not come naturally to him. He’s been a quiet figure at Ohio State, branching out with a humorous Twitter account. But when Meyer pulled him aside a year ago and urged him to be the leader on the offensive line – a unit that up to that point was completely unproven – Mewhort accepted the task.

The end result was a revamped line that developed into one of the team’s strengths, which as recently as two seasons ago seemed as likely as a tsunami hitting Central Ohio. Mewhort also became the sounding board and inspirational force Meyer coveted.

“There's a quote around here that ‘Leaders aren't born, they're made,’” said Mewhort. “I'm a pretty observant guy. I’ve spent a lot of time in my younger years around here watching the older guys, paying attention to guys in leadership positions. I’m trying to take what I’ve seen from good leaders and apply that now.”

At the top of list might be staying out of trouble. It’s hard to preach teamwork and togetherness when your off-the-field actions don’t reflect the same pretty picture. Mewhort knows that best, having been arrested last summer during the Memorial Tournament. The incident is now hundreds of miles in the rearview mirror, as if not to make a Picasso resemble a finger painting. 

“Jack was a good kid before that incident. He just made a bad decision,” offensive line coach Ed Warinner said. “He just learned that you've got to be responsible and accountable.”

The cornerstone of the line, Mewhort has already been granted the captaincy by Meyer, who made the announcement at a speaking engagement in Toledo. Mewhort is known for his meticulous attention to detail, which comes in handy during position meetings.

“It’s not a dictatorship at Ohio State, and we let our players choose captains,” Meyer said. “However, all those votes have to pass by my desk. So I’m going to tell you who one will be.”

The way Mewhort carries himself – a quiet confidence combined with intangibles that are vital – makes him a well-liked teammate. So much so that his ideals and traits are being passed down.

“Everyone says, ‘I want to be like that guy,’” Warinner said.

“He’s got self-discipline, self-respect, and work ethic,” Meyer said. “He’s a guy that’s tough as nails.

“Everything you’d want in a leader.”

Just like those Tebow and Simon guys.

16 Comments

Comments

heartofabuckeye's picture

I love the toughness and leader aspects. Now stopped getting whipped by a freshman DE !

Squirrel Master's picture

I believe he is officially a sophomore DE! and a bad man too!

I saw a UFO once.......it told me to have a goodyear!

heartofabuckeye's picture

Uh yeah. Still only a first year starter. I'm sure that any team we face in a championship game will have a player of his caliber facing Mr.Mewhort !

stevebelliseeya's picture

Can you guys hire someone to write who doesn't make me cry at some point during every article?This is borderline embarrassing and makes me question my manhood...

"What's the matter kid? Don't ya like clowns? - Captain Spaulding

RedStorm45's picture

Don't forget Utah...red and white?...whatever colors they wear, there at the beginning.

chicagobuckeye's picture

Yes they are missing, but they are second after Bowling Green

Toilrt Paper's picture

This must be a cornerstone of Meyer's successful career. His burning desire to have STRONG LEADERSHIP from a selfless, hardworking vocal player. He knows that type of a player will have a big impact on team chemistry. One of the most important parts of a great TEAM. Something a coach can't deliver, even one as great as Meyer.

Savage45's picture

I hope a Buckeye can knock Teblow's jersey out of the line up, It makes me sick to think of a Gator jersey is hanging in The Woody.

Firmthyfriendship's picture

I had a lot to say, but I decide to "not press send". Let's just say I agree with Savage here.

Savage45's picture

I do that all the time!
In fact I'd probably have twice as many posts on E.W. if didn't decide to "not press send".

buckeyechad's picture

I can't stand Tebow as much as anyone, but I also like to think of how pissed Gator fans must be that we have their best player ever helping Urban recruit for the Buckeyes.

Firmthyfriendship's picture

Look, I think he's a stand up guy. I'd let him date my daughter (in about 20 years LOL),  but I wouldn't let his dirty stinkin' jersey sit in the Shrine of Buckeye Nation except as a dart board or something. I mean doesn't that seem strange to anyone? I have standards.

buckeyechad's picture

I personally wouldn't (a few friends and I actually burned all of our NCAA 11 covers with him on the front), but unfortunately Urban has a little more say in the matter than I do.

Firmthyfriendship's picture

But seriously, I like the emphasis Urban puts on leadership, and the necessity for teams to have it. I remember him saying something like talent alone will get you 7 or 8  wins. Talent plus leadership and kids buying into the program... That's when truly special things happen... All this he said before the 12-0 season. Here's to 14-0 baby!

buckeyedude's picture

I never really understood the hatred for Tebow. He is a man of high moral character, IMHO. Maybe it just stems from the media obsession with him. Having his jersey in Urban's office doesn't bother me. Thankfully, Urban never coached at TTUN.
I really hope Mewhort can develop into a role model for the younger guys and a team leader, much like Simon.
I would love to see a video of the Big John Simon breakdown after the Cal game. If such a video even exists.

 
 

Buckeyeneer's picture

I have no real issue with Tebow, only some Tebow followers.

"Because the rules won't let you go for three." - Woody Hayes
THE Ohio State University