COLUMBUS: The hardest part, Jack Mewhort said, was the phone call to Ohio State coach Urban Meyer.
Mewhort can’t remember the details of his conversation with Meyer after his May arrest in June near Dublin, Ohio, on charges of obstructing official business.
“I’ve kind of blocked it out,” Mewhort said.
The exact words might be forgotten, but he remembers well enough the sinking feeling of having to make the call. Mewhort had to explain how he had been stopped for public urination late at night with teammate Jake Stoneburner and another friend.
“The sound of disappointment in his voice was overwhelming for me,” said Mewhort, a redshirt junior.
Mewhort knew Meyer was counting on him to play left tackle. All through spring, Meyer had praised Mewhort as a player and leader. Now Meyer was compelled to suspend him and Stoneburner and to strip them of their scholarships for the summer.
“I messed up and made a mistake,” Mewhort said. “I think that was the most painful part for me. It was hard, just because I’d never been in trouble before. It was such a dumb mistake on my part.”
Mewhort said he was knocked off course for about a week. Conversations with his father, Don, helped refocus him. Mewhort and Stoneburner eventually pleaded guilty to a reduced misdemeanor charge of disorderly conduct.
Meyer described the incident as a “stupid, ignorant mistake,” but he added that it didn’t erase his view of Mewhort as a “model student, model citizen.”
Still, the suspension and loss of scholarship stung Mewhort, a Toledo native.
“It kind of took me by surprise,” Mewhort said. “It really made me appreciate everything more when I got reinstated. I understand the punishment, and I think it was a great way to make me realize the gravity of my actions.”
Mewhort took much solace in his belief that his teammates and offensive line coach, Ed Warinner, retained their faith in him.
“I don’t feel I ever really lost the team,” he said. “But I know when I came back in, I had a chip on my shoulder just to work and rededicate myself to the program.=
“When I think about all the guys on the team, those are my brothers. I’m going to definitely get back to where I was where guys can look to me for guidance.”
Mewhort started at right guard for most of last year. With three veteran starters gone, the Buckeyes reshuffled their line, and Meyer moved Mewhort to left tackle.
That’s typically the most important position on the line because it protects a quarterback’s blind side. Given how valuable Braxton Miller is to the Buckeyes, it’s particularly pivotal.
As Ohio State prepares to play Alabama-Birmingham on Saturday, Mewhort still is adjusting to left tackle.
“It’s definitely a little more responsibility,” he said. “It’s [requiring] different techniques, but I love the challenge.”
By his own admission, Mewhort might not fit the prototype of a left tackle.
“I’m not the best athlete,” he said. “I don’t have the best feet.”
Mewhort does have some experience at the position. As a freshman, he worked there during the spring and played some snaps at tackle last year against Purdue. His belief is that he ought to be competent wherever he’s asked to play.
“It’s just a matter of switching your stance and tweaking little things to go out there and be confident on the edge,” Mewhort said.
So far, so good.
“He’s probably our best lineman right now,” Meyer said. “He’s a hard-nosed player that does great for the community, does great for Ohio State.”
Meyer then repeated that Mewhort’s transgression was “a really stupid thing.”
Mewhort doesn’t need to be reminded.
“I realize now I can never let that ever happen again,” he said.