IN THE HOURS AND DAYS FOLLOWING JIM TRESSEL'S MAY 30 RESIGNATION, OHIO STATE All-America center Michael Brewster turned to social media and delivered maxims cribbed from William Arthur Ward. "Adversity causes some men to break, others to break records," he tweeted. And, "Change is inevitable, but growth is optional."
The scandal-ridden off-season that stormed through Columbus took its toll on every Buckeye, past and present, and what became immediately clear is that the 2011 Ohio State team needed a rock, a stabilizing force. Brewster intends to be that foundation.
At 6' 5" and 305 pounds Brewster already anchors an offensive line that has the potential to be one of the most effective in the nation. His real test will be whether he can help lead a program through one of its most challenging times.
"This off-season was at times a lot to handle," says Brewster. "But it hit me that this program is bigger than one person or one player. This is my senior season. It's about growing up; it's about maturing. You have to lead the way, be an example. You don't realize that when you're a freshman and a sophomore.
"The older you get, the more you realize how much this place means to all of us and the more you appreciate what you're really a part of," Brewster continues. "I'll be honest: I didn't realize what that meant until just this past year."
On the field Brewster has meant a great deal to Ohio State. The senior from Edgewater High in Orlando has started 36 games in his three seasons as a Buckeye and has developed into one of the nation's most reliable interior linemen. He was one of two juniors among the six finalists for the Rimington Trophy in 2010 and this season remains among the favorites for the award honoring the best center in the country.
Brewster's return to Ohio State—he was a potential first-round draft choice had he entered the NFL early—turned out to be critical for the Buckeyes, especially given left tackle Mike Adams's early-season suspension. The unit also retains senior right tackle J.B. Shugarts. Says Brewster, "I feel like this could be the best offensive line I've ever been a part of."
That's crucial considering that Ohio State will be breaking in new players at nearly every skill position, especially during the suspension-heavy first five games. In short a strong offensive line, with Brewster in the middle of it, could be what holds this team together.
"If I had to put that weight on anybody's shoulders, there are few better guys to count on than Mike Brewster," says coach Luke Fickell. "He's a great example. He leads by action. He's intelligent. That's the thing that we're looking for. When the younger guys have great examples to follow, it makes everything a lot easier on the coaches."
The Buckeyes have won at least a share of the Big Ten championship in six consecutive seasons. Considering all that has transpired, a seventh could be one of the most rewarding—especially for the seniors.