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9/23/2008 10:27 AM
C Michael Brewster  (United States)
Ohio State football
Center comes of age in middle of it all
Freshman Brewster plugs hole as a starter on offensive line
Tuesday,  September 23, 2008 3:36 AM
<p>Ohio State center Mike Brewster, left, motions as the Buckeyes prepare to run a play against Troy. Brewster became a starter after an injury to Steve Rehring.</p>
Neal C. LauronDISPATCH

Ohio State center Mike Brewster, left, motions as the Buckeyes prepare to run a play against Troy. Brewster became a starter after an injury to Steve Rehring.

The freshman, one of the more ballyhooed of the 2008 recruiting class, earned his first start for Ohio State last week and played to stellar reviews in just his fourth college game.

Quarterback Terrelle Pryor? Yeah, him too. But this is about center Michael Brewster, the fellow who flawlessly snapped the ball to Pryor and made some nice blocks along the way.

To get to play center so quickly as a freshman, "that's crazy," said regular center Jim Cordle, who started at left guard. "I didn't start until my third year, and I was probably more nervous than he was. He had a little bit of a comfort shell with me out there next to him, but he settled in and we did OK."

Brewster's start was partly happenstance. Senior left guard Steve Rehring suffered a sprained left foot in the loss at Southern California, and during the week leading up to the game with Troy, offensive coordinator Jim Bollman moved Cordle to left guard and elevated Brewster to starter.

After Brewster passed the final test, that is. Considered a blue-chip prospect at guard coming out of Edgewater High School in Orlando, Fla., he had never done shotgun snapping until this preseason. He had to prove on Friday he could deliver flawlessly those snaps, the staple of the Pryor-led attack.

"It's a big test," Brewster said.

But he passed. Not that Edgewater coach Bill Gierke was surprised.

"It's unusual for a freshman to go in anywhere and play center, but you have to understand, this kid is different," Gierke said by phone yesterday. "His desire to be good is second to none.

"So it really doesn't surprise me that he's playing. It surprised me that he started, but it doesn't surprise me that he could handle it. He is a different kind of kid in terms of his preparation. He is much more advanced than your average freshman."

Gierke noticed it the first day Brewster transferred in from a private school going into his junior season. From his work in the weight room to his hours studying video, preparation for playing football was his lifestyle.

"I've been pretty lucky, because I've coached seven or eight kids who went on to play in the NFL as offensive linemen, and this guy's work ethic and the way he goes about his business is much different from even those kids," Gierke said. "This is what he wants to do. It is his focal point."

Brewster was an early commitment to the 2008 OSU recruiting class, and his work behind the scenes in helping lure other prospects earned the group the moniker "the Brew Crew."

The last to jump on board the 2008 class was Pryor, though he never considered himself a part of the Brew Crew. "I'm myself," Pryor said.

Yet there they were on Saturday, one freshman snapping the ball to another freshman; OSU historians are still trying to figure out when that last occurred for the Buckeyes. Pryor just knew that above being freshmen, coach Jim Tressel and his staff decided they were advanced enough to start.

"He's a player," Pryor said of Brewster.

Brewster's assessment of Pryor, the first freshman quarterback at OSU to throw for four touchdowns in a game: "I didn't know he could pass like that, to be honest. Everything changes when you're in a game. He has been really calm out there, and I was calm, too. I think this is a real good steppingstone for both of us."

Brewster said he was humbled and proud -- "I had goose bumps" -- to gain a starting nod so early. It conjured memories of the quick rise in 2002 of then-freshman center Nick Mangold, now with the New York Jets. When a couple of injuries opened gaps on the line, he played extensively the last half of that national championship season.

Brewster admitted it was a goal to do something similar his freshman year.

"I hate sitting on the bench," he said. "It kills me."

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