April 16, 2009

Mewhort, Klein selected to play in Junior Championships

The move from high school to college is a taxing process for each of Ohio State's recruits, especially in terms of transitioning physically to the Division I level.

For incoming freshmen Jack Mewhort of Toledo (Ohio) St. John's and Storm Klein of Newark (Ohio) Licking Valley, they will have an extra step that could help them with the transition.

Mewhort and Klein, both members of Ohio State's 2009 recruiting class, were chosen to compete in the first junior world championships this summer in Canton as members of USA Football's 2009 Junior National Team.

"It will be an historic moment for American football as great athletes from around the world come to Canton to see who will be crowned Junior World Champion," Ohio State head coach Jim Tressel said in a press release. "It's great that a couple of Ohio guys and Buckeyes will be able to represent their country in such a competition. I know it will be an unforgettable experience for them."

The championships will be a 12-game tournament consisting of eight different national teams (from four continents) and will be played in Canton's historic Fawcett Stadium. Teams from Canada, France, Germany, Japan, Mexico, New Zealand and Sweden will compete against the United States in effort to be crowned the first world champions for the sport on an international junior level with players of the age of 19 or younger.

The United States will be coached by Cleveland St. Ignatius head coach Chuck Kyle, who has captured 10 of Ohio's past 21 state championships for his school.

Klein and Mewhort are two of 36 selected players for the squad (45 players will eventually make it), which is something both are very excited about.

"It is just awesome to be nominated for something like this and represent the country," said Mewhort, a 6-foot-6, 285-pound center. "I don't think (participating) will put me too much behind because everything those guys are going to be doing I did last quarter. I am going to keep lifting and work hard, so I don't feel like ill be behind at all because I will be playing football."

Added Klein: "We are going to go out there and play for the whole country and I am happy to be a part of it."

Mewhort and Klein are both participating in Spring Football, so both are already getting acclimated to the play of the Big Ten, which could help them before competing in the junior world championships.

While the transition is tough, Mewhort feels practices as a Buckeye has gone fairly well and he said he looks forward to developing into a solid player for Ohio State.

"My head is spinning a lot with all the plays and everything, but like I said there is nowhere to go but up and I am just going to keep learning and be a sponge and learn everything I can," Mewhort said. "Everybody is as big and strong and fast as everyone else, so it's all about technique and knowing the plays and using your head and being smart. It is just a lot different than high school.

"Coach Bollman tells us to come in with the mentality that we aren't going to redshirt, so right now I don't have that mentality," Mewhort added. "Further down the road I'll have a better idea about all that stuff, so we will see."

There is certainly plenty of focus in terms of developing at Ohio State, but Klein would be lying if he said he didn't want to bring the championship to the United States.

"I'm excited to go to Fawcett Stadium and play there and maybe get a win," Klein said.

Ari Wasserman is a staff writer for BuckeyeGrove.com. He can be reached at Ari@BuckeyeGrove.com.

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