Brittany Schock / Asst. sports editor
At the conclusion of the 2012 NFL Draft April 28, former Ohio State center Mike Brewster was still waiting on the phone call that could change his life. At the time, his NFL dreams were on hold. All 253 draft selections had come and gone, and he was not among the players selected.
But Brewster did not have to wait much longer for his opportunity to play in the NFL. By the end of that same Saturday night, Brewster signed as an undrafted free agent with the Jacksonville Jaguars.
As an undrafted free agent, Brewster had the opportunity to choose which team he would sign with. He told The Lantern that the Jaguars were the right team for him.
“It was the best situation, as far as they didn’t draft any linemen,” Brewster said. “Their (offensive line) coaches had been in contact with me probably more than anybody. That made me feel comfortable.”
As a four-year starting center for the Buckeyes, Brewster started 49 consecutive games, the second-longest streak in school history. Brewster’s former coach Luke Fickell has the longest streak at 50 straight games. In 2010, Brewster was named to the Football Writers Association of America All-American Team, and was named first-team all-Big Ten by the media.
Jaguars offensive line coach Andy Heck told The Lantern that the Jaguars were “fortunate” to be able to sign Brewster as a free agent.
“Every guy we bring in here is a guy that we believe can compete to make our team,” Heck said. “Mike is a guy that I think has a legitimate shot to make a team, to develop into a solid pro, and he’s going to get that opportunity here to compete, to take his game to another level. If he earns it, he’ll make the team and play.”
Brewster, a native of Orlando, Fla., said returning to his home state was a big factor in his decision to go to Jacksonville.
“I prayed to come home, and it happened in a mysterious way,” Brewster said. “I’m as happy as I could be. Nobody loves the state of Florida as much as I do.”
Brewster could have declared for the 2011 NFL Draft following his junior season, but said he has no regrets about his decision to return to OSU for his senior year.
“I grew up, learned a lot, I got smarter, I got a lot stronger, and then things just didn’t really go my way,” Brewster said. “I don’t regret it … I could have left after my junior year, but it was important for me to come back and try to help the program.”
Brewster said ending up with the right team was more important to him than being drafted.
“(Being drafted in the) fifth (round) and before, it’s a pretty decent signing bonus, but other than that, you just want the right fit,” Brewster said. “I was nervous that someone was just going to snatch me up in the sixth or seventh, just to take me.”
Heck said Brewster will play multiple positions on the interior offensive line during this summer’s training camp and preseason as he attempts to make the Jaguars’ final 53-man roster.
“We’ll give him a lot of work at center,” Heck said. “I think he’s a guy that’s got the physical makeup and mental makeup to be a center in this league. He’ll also cross-train as a guard.”
Heck said he believes Brewster has the necessary mental attributes to succeed as an NFL center.
“I like Mike’s intelligence, I like his demeanor,” Heck said. “I think that both of those things suit him playing an interior line position, particularly center where he’s got to really be the quarterback of the offensive line.”
Heck also addressed the areas of Brewster’s game where he must improve.
“He needs to work on being consistent with his gun snaps, keeping himself in better balance,” Heck said. “These are things that everybody needs to work on.”
Even after going undrafted, Brewster remains confident that he will have a successful NFL career.
“At the end of the day, you can either play or you can’t,” Brewster said. “It doesn’t matter if you’re a fourth-, fifth-, sixth-, seventh-round pick, undrafted … the best players are going to play. I’ll make it work, and I guarantee you I’ll be playing football for years to come.”