Frenemies: Jack Mewhort and Taylor Lewan Take On the NFL Together

By Kyle Rowland on February 24, 2014 at 9:15a
Ohio State's Jack Mewhort
38 Comments

The Ohio State-Michigan rivalry has produced countless relationships and storylines that verge on the bizarre. Woody Hayes and Bo Schembechler formed one of the sport’s most unlikely bonds, one-time Ohio State captain and national champion Gary Moeller later became head coach at Michigan and All-Big Ten offensive lineman Justin Boren’s career took him from Ann Arbor to Columbus.

Add the budding friendship between Jack Mewhort and Taylor Lewan to the list. The uneasy rivals, training together in Florida at the IMG Academy, have leaned on one another during the grueling NFL draft prep. What’s developed is camaraderie and respect.

It’s surprising to most outside observers who characterize Lewan as not too likeable. But Mewhort said there’s an on-field identity and an off-field identity that differ greatly. He described Lewan as a “pro wrestler” on game days, but much more mild away from the field.

“He’s a good competitor,” Mewhort said. “It’s been good to have him down there to match myself against and see where I measure up. But I won’t say we’re buddies on camera.”

Throughout his accomplished four-year career, Lewan made numerous enemies due to his cocky personality mixed with outsized bravado. Trash-talking and looking down on the opposition became a staple of Lewan’s behavior, making him an easy target for opposing fans and players. In the Ohio State-Michigan rivalry, he became the perfect villain.

“It’s over now,” Lewan said of any lingering animosity. “I’ll always be a Michigan Man. I’ll always believe in Michigan when Michigan plays Ohio. I’ll always call them Ohio. I’ll never call them that other word.

“But Jack’s a great guy, Ryan Shazier’s a great guy, Michigan State’s [Isaiah Lewis] — you’ve all seen me grab his facemask — we’re great friends now. We’ve all worked together. It’s amazing how things change when you’re all working toward the same goal. It’s amazing how people aren’t really who they seem like on the football field.”

But for Lewan, off-field troubles could derail a possible high draft selection. There are concerns about his role in intimidating a woman who accused former Michigan kicker Brendan Gibbons of sexual assault and whether or not he punched a Buckeye fan after Ohio State’s win in November. Lewan has steadfastly denied all the allegations. 

The NFL puts a premium on players’ character in the present age of the 24-hour news cycle. With billions of dollars invested in all 32 franchises, bad publicity is avoided at all costs. But winning can sometimes – OK, most of the time – trump all.

Saturday Bloody Saturday.
Not a popular guy in Columbus.

“It kills me inside,” Lewan said at the NFL Combine when asked about the accusations. “It probably kills my mother, too. It hurts definitely, because of the player I am on the field, it’s probably really easy to assume that stuff about me. But that's not who I am at all.”

Who he is, despite the turmoil, is a top-10 draft pick. Lewan, all 6-foot-7 and 309 pounds of him, ran a 4.87 40, the fastest time among all offensive linemen, sending his stock soaring. Mewhort left the NFL’s version of Ringling Bros. Circus as a projected second- or third-round pick.

In four seasons at Ohio State, he played everywhere coaches asked to put him. Adapting to various positions could be his friend come draft day.

“Versatility is huge in this league,” Mewhort said. “You carry only seven offensive lineman on a 53-man roster, so being able to play more than one position brings a lot of value to an organization.

“I grew as a person and got a lot of experience by playing for three different coaches, in terms of leadership styles and being coached in different ways. Playing the different positions added a lot of value to myself.”

Mewhort played center in high school and guard and left tackle for the Buckeyes. Guard and right tackle are the assumed areas he’ll occupy in the NFL, though there is zero preference when it comes to his NFL career – just a spot on the roster.

“It’s like asking a parent to pick a kid. I truly believe I can thrive at every position on the offensive line,” Mewhort said. “I know that sounds crazy. I know you guys are thinking in your mind you have a favorite position, but it really doesn't matter.

“You point me in the direction and tell me to play the position, I’ll do it as hard as I can go.”

Making a roster seems like a guarantee for Mewhort. During his final two seasons in Columbus, he anchored an offensive line that was the best in a decade at Ohio State. Mewhort’s presence was so vital that head coach Urban Meyer referred to him as the most valuable player of the offense. That’s a unit that included do-everything quarterback Braxton Miller and running back Carlos Hyde, who could hear his name called in the first round come May. 

Meyer never shied away from those comments. Instead, he insisted the left tackle factored into the Buckeyes’ success every bit as much as skill players. The characteristic Meyer cherished most was Mewhort’s natural leadership.

It’s been unmistakable once more in Bradenton, Fla., in the company of an archenemy. 

38 Comments

Comments

DJRoss926's picture

Mewhort said there’s an on-field identity and an off-field identity that differ greatly

Jackass on the field, intimidating rape victims off the field.

What difference am I missing here?

+22 HS
Ericgobucks's picture

I am not saying Mewhort is lying, but if he's asked about it, what's he going to say? "Oh Lewan is such a total dick and I believe he was involved in a rape coverup." I think what  Mewhort is saying is that they are able to get along working together and there are no issues. Maybe it's because his expectations were so LOW that Lewan has surprised him. He also didn't go out of his way to praise his character. That's pretty telling to me. 

+11 HS
The Urban Legend's picture

I agree that players can be different off the field than they are on it but its usually in terms of someone being more vocal or aggressive while playing. At least from my personal experiences if you're a jackass on the field same holds true off of it.

The Legend continues

+2 HS
LouGroza's picture

Lewan will BS you into next week given the opportunity. I've seen many like him. Had a guy that worked for me that was the biggest con man in the world. Shortly after he was hired I found out what was going on but everyone, and I mean everyone, thought this guy was the nicest, most polite and helpful person there was. In fact, he was a such a mess in his personal life, which I will not go into here, that a short time later he was in prison for quite some time. Everyone eventually found out everything he said and did was a complete and total con. He was excellent at his job and working with people but in the end it was only to feed his off duty issues. I think Lewan is the same type.

+3 HS
ToledoMan's picture

Whether he is guilty of the off field incidents or not, I still laugh at a moron who calls OSU "Ohio."  Drinking the Hoke Kool Aid is creating an army of buffoons.

+7 HS
TheBadOwl's picture

I don't get why people get so worked up about this. It's not like calling us "Ohio" any different than us refusing to say their state's name, or calling them scUM or TSUN...

When I walked in this morning and saw the flag was at half mast I thought, "Alright, another bureaucrat ate it." but then I saw it was Li'l Sebastian. Half mast is too high. Show some damn respect.

+3 HS
Oyster's picture

It would also be interesting to see what everyones opinion of him would be if he had worn Scarlet and Gray.

"Everyone does -- kills people...

 Remember that comment?  Many people outside of Columber were very worked up over that.  Around here, we wrote it off or were able to understand what he "really" meant and how it was taken out of context.  It all depends on where you stand as to how you look at things.

 

IGotAWoody's picture

It probably helps, too, that Pryor wasn't accused of intimidating a rape victim, trying to tear an opponents head off while he's laying on the ground, or punching any opposing teams' fans after a game.

 - License to kill gophers (wolverines, badgers, etc) by the government of the United Nations

+8 HS
Poison nuts's picture

Damn straight IGotAWoody! Wait - did that sound awkward?

"Death created time to grow the things that it would kill" - Detective Rustin Cohle.

+1 HS
LouGroza's picture

Too many instances of bad behavior on and off the field. If the rape intimidation thing is true, that alone is enough to write the guy off. Once there are so many issues, he can't say they were all circumstantial and he was not responsible in each and every situation. Too many red flags. They are not all without merit. I for one would not support an OSU guy with all that baggage.

+3 HS
Oyster's picture

I agree with what you say in regards to Lewan (and others like him), but my point was more to the effect of what the perception is of a player when they play for the team you root for or a team you don't particularly care about or even worse, one you dislike.  Was Robert Reynolds a good LB?  What is the first image that comes to mind?  Was his punishment right, too severe or not enough?  If he played for Bama, USC, ND or ttun, would your opinion change?  

+1 HS
IGotAWoody's picture

I think Robert Reynolds is a perfect example of an OSU player that WAS held accountable and DID have his perception changed within his own fan base. I can't speak for others, but just as you said, the first thing you think of when his name is mentioned is the choking incident. I've never heard ANYONE try to justify or sugar coat that incident. He still carries that stigma to this day. And likewise, Lewan will carry his, especially since his is not ONE incident, but a pattern of poor behavior and general assholishness.

 - License to kill gophers (wolverines, badgers, etc) by the government of the United Nations

+1 HS
Furious George 27's picture

The Ohio thing bothers me only for the fact that they are not giving the Bobcats credit for beating them.

Yeah, well…that’s just like, your opinion, man.

+5 HS
Go1Bucks's picture

Yeah, except it shows their lack of creativity when there is already a team called Ohio (University) and we are in the State of Ohio.  When we refuse to use the letter _ when we say _ichigan, or _yshitcan, or whatever, it sends a more novel message of hate.

Go Bucks!

+1 HS
CowCat's picture

I thought MeatChicken and MeChicken were good, but ...

... "Me Shit Can" just made my whole year.

"We get paid to score touchdowns, not kick field goals"
-- Urban Meyer

+1 HS
CowCat's picture

(dupe)

"We get paid to score touchdowns, not kick field goals"
-- Urban Meyer

Buckeyeneer's picture

It makes me laugh at people who use it. People didn't say it until Hoke was coach. We've been refusing to say their name since Woody. It's like making fun of someone for 40 years and after all that time, the best insult they can hurl back at you is to just copy what you did.

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

+1 HS
IH8UOFM's picture

I get "Ohio'd" a lot up here. I explain to them that there actually is an Ohio University and its similar to us calling them "Michigan State" or "Central Michigan". The baffled looks I get are par for the course.

MichiganBuckeye222's picture

The best part about their insistence to call us "Ohio" is their insistence to lose to us consistently... And then continuing to call us "Ohio"

 

 

Representing the Buckeyes in the Mitten State since 1987.

www.septemberheisman.com

 

+3 HS
RBuck's picture

Lewan is going to be a good one.....he can get away with holding even more in the NFL.

"It's just another case of there you are". ~ Doc (1918-2012)

+2 HS
southernstatesbuckeye's picture

I'm not buying it, Lewan.  An asshole is an asshole is an asshole.

+3 HS
CCatanzaro's picture

4.87 at 6'7" 300+?  I hate Lewan as much as the next guy, but that's flat out scary.

Dairy-fed intellect and pure, unhinged sass.

 

+1 HS
toledobuckeyefanjim's picture

Looks like he has good speed to play on kickoffs and punt returns.

dbit's picture

Under player profiles for the combine, at nfl.com/combine, under Lewan's weakness is this gem:

Quirky personality that can be easily misunderstood. 

 

+2 HS
740Bucks's picture

Taylor Lewan is garbage.

"My idea of a good hit is when the guy wakes up on the sidelines with train whistles blowing in his head." - Jack Tatum

+2 HS
Tyler Durden's picture

Said the sorry guy laying on the ground in your icon.

Matt F's picture

I'm all for guys overcoming college rivalries at the next level - I even applaud it. But Lewan just seems like a bad person, period. It would serve Mewhort well to not get too close to characters like him if he desires success at the next level.

+1 HS
Alpo's picture

Really hope the giants don't draft him at #12. I'm all for having the best players on my pro team but would have a hard time pulling for Lewan. Hope we pass on him and get Hyde/Mewhort combo in rounds 2 & 3.

+1 HS
Hovenaut's picture

I read this, and I didn't understand it.

It did not make sense to me.

Continued good luck to Jack Mewhort, regardless of whatever "friends" he may have made.

"Success...it's what you do with what you got" - Woody Hayes

+3 HS
TheShookster's picture

Taylor Lewan is a joke. He might turn out to be a great NFL'er but he's still a giant tool. I have no problem with players or teams being cocky...arrogant even...as long as they aren't barely making the Buffalo Wild Wings Asian Zing Onion Ring bowl.

+2 HS
PittBuckeye's picture

Blasphemy, pure blasphemy. Mewhort better just be setting him up for a practical joke or something. 

+1 HS
youngbuck32's picture

Sorry Taylor... NFL defensive lineman dont respond the same way as college girls when you try to intimidate them. He's gonna grab the wrong guys facemask and that guy may just "jadaveon clowney" his ass. I'd pay to see that

Can't is the real "C" word!

+1 HS
Poison nuts's picture

Taylor Lewan is a pud.

"Death created time to grow the things that it would kill" - Detective Rustin Cohle.

+2 HS
Balkestud's picture

Why is he a "possible top ten pick"? My opinion is, he was the most overrated player in college football. So he ran a fast 40, all that means is he does'nt have enough sand in his pants to anchor against the bull rush. Another case of best player on a shit team, just like Jenkins from Illinois who the 49ers couldn't wait to get rid of. As a Bengals fan, I don't want that guy anywhere near my team

It gets kind of rough in the back of my limousine,

 

 

+2 HS
southbay's picture

I'll agree with Hovenaut, it doesn't make sense.  How does one so revered by Buckeye fans become friends with one so reviled?

+1 HS
InvertMyVeer's picture

I feel like I need a shower after reading this article.

Football is complicated...

+2 HS
One Bad Buckeye's picture

Can we all just agree that Lewan, friend-of-my-friend (Mewhort) or not, is a walking bag of dicks?  I can't think of anyone I'd put further down on my list of "people I'd have a beer with" than Taylor Lewan.  I'm sorry, but I can't stand this guy....."Oh yeah, sorry I tried to break your neck by cranking on your face mask, can we still be buds?"

"I'm One Bad Buckeye, and I approve this message."

+1 HS
Silver Bullet 10's picture

Hate the dude, but he's probably the second best tackle in the draft behind Robinson. Kicked butt at the combine.