- Austin Ward, ESPN Staff Writer
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COLUMBUS, Ohio -- The final chapter hasn't been written yet for Ohio State's senior class, and a handful of Buckeyes have a chance to author something pretty memorable. This week, we'll be looking at five players with a chance to leave a legacy with the program with one more productive season, what kind of impact they might have this fall and how they might be viewed down the road.
So far: The nasty, physical left tackle from Toledo isn't the only veteran lineman with a chance to leave the program on a high note, and the presence of three more senior starters up front is a major factor in the national-title buzz that is building for Ohio State. That group typically spreads around the credit and the attention, and Corey Linsley, Andrew Norwell and Marcus Hall each deserve praise for the work they've done with the Buckeyes. But individually, Mewhort has become the leader of not only his position group but potentially the entire team, developing into the type of driven leader so highly valued by Urban Meyer. The Ohio State coach hasn't been shy about backing Mewhort's candidacy as the heart and soul of the team, and he has taken it even further by mentioning him in the same category as former captains like Tim Tebow and John Simon. Like any blocker, there isn't much statistical evidence to measure Mewhort's impact by himself -- but he's certainly integral in maintaining a winning culture across the team.
Numbers to date: A second-team All-Big Ten pick as a junior, Mewhort anchored an offensive line that helped the Buckeyes rack up more than 242 rushing yards per game to rank No. 10 in the country on the ground. And while they only might have been scratching the surface of what they can do in Meyer's spread offense, the 37.1 points per game the Buckeyes averaged led the conference.
Record chasing: The record books might need a number of updates for scoring and yardage if all goes according to plan this fall, which starts with keeping Mewhort healthy and able to continue his streak of consecutive starts. That number sits at 25 heading into the season, and perhaps more impressively includes appearances at three different positions on the line.
What's next: The focus always will be on the players who touch the football, and the Buckeyes are pretty well stocked with guys capable of ringing up head-turning statistics. But Braxton Miller needs time to throw, Devin Smith and Philly Brown have to be able to complete their routes and Carlos Hyde and a deep backfield aren't going far without holes to run through, and that all starts with Mewhort and and the front five on offense. Meyer made sure last year to call attention to the job all of those guys did, but their contributions might still have been undervalued at times. Establishing Mewhort as one of the leading voices for the program, though, could change that and shine the spotlight a little brighter on the dirty work in the trenches.
Crystal ball: Probably more than any other position, reputations for linemen are often forged by team success as opposed to individual dominance. Mewhort will have some versatility working in his favor when his career is analyzed down the road, and obviously he already has been a part of an undefeated season. But if he's widely recognized as the torchbearer for a team that follows that up with a run to a national title, he'll at least have a framed jersey hanging in Meyer's office in the practice facility.
3dDan Murphy and Mitch Sherman
3dSharon Katz, ESPN Stats & Information
5dMitch Sherman and Dan Murphy