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Optimistic approach


Real as the emotions were, Mike Brewster didn't feel many.

All around him last weekend, Brewster said people felt logical feelings. He spent NFL Draft Weekend in a situation he never imagined, and with family and friends gathered he saw their reactions.

Sadness. Anger. Confusion.

Brewster said he felt some of it – confusion, particularly – but when it came to it really bothering him, he said it just didn't.

"I guess I'm one of the biggest optimists you'll ever meet," he said.

The former Ohio State University center said that's how he approaches life anyway. A positive approach? Working toward his goals, through difficult times? Part of his daily walk. But in this case, even as he went unselected throughout the entire 2012 NFL Draft, there was another reason he wasn't bothered:

The longer the draft went on, the worse his friends and family felt, the better chance he said he had of eventually being where he wanted to be.

This wasn't supposed to be Brewster's story. Not this past weekend.

And really, being overlooked and unhonored isn't a major part of Brewster's background.

USA Today Parade All-America. A five-start prospect by The No. 1 center in the class of 2008. Brewster was all of those things at Orlando Edgewater High School.

He started four seasons at Ohio State, made All-America as a junior. He considered declaring for the NFL Draft after that season, and the league's draft advisory board told him while he wouldn't be selected in the first three rounds, he would be selected – a solid grade for a player at his position.

Thinking Jim Tressell would return as coach, Brewster returned to Ohio State, and while the coaching staff changed, he had a solid senior season. Along with tackle Mike Adams, he was the Jim Parker Award winner as the Buckeyes' outstanding offensive lineman, and after the season, he was invited to the Senior Bowl.

"The feedback from the coaches and (Minnesota) Vikings staff (at the Senior Bowl) was all very positive," he said. "I thought it went well, I got to play the whole game. I think I missed two plays the whole game, which is probably a record for the Senior Bowl. It was a good week, I thought."

Brewster said he didn't know what to expect. The draft is an uncertain process, and for interior offensive lineman that's particularly true. Still, there were projections he would be selected Friday in Round 2 or 3.

"After the second and third (rounds) went by, I said, 'Well, I guess I'll find out tomorrow,''' he said.

The next day came and time passed. "The fourth and fifth (round) went by and I thought, 'This is crazy,''' he said.

At that point, Brewster said his thoughts changed. One constant you hear every year before and after the draft is if a player isn't selected by about Round 5, it's better to go undrafted. Brewster said by Saturday, he had bought into the philosophy.

The reason had to do with Jacksonville – and not just that it was a two-hour drive from home. Brewster said Jaguars offensive line coach Andy Heck was among the coaches who "showed a lot of love for me" at the NFL Scouting Combine, and a few weeks before the draft, Heck called Brewster.

"We want to have you here, but I can't make the picks,''' Heck told him.

Brewster, too, said he spoke with Jaguars assistant offensive line coach Ron Prince, who had recruited him while at Kansas State. More and more, he said, the Jaguars "just felt like a good fit for me."

As the fifth round turned into the sixth, Brewster said that feeling grew stronger. A few teams had called in the fifth, and Brewster said he thought he might get drafted "just because of what I did at Ohio State."

"I really didn't want to get drafted at that point," he said. "I felt it was better for me to pick where I wanted to go.  At that point I wanted to get through these two rounds and then I would love to end up here. I'm glad it worked out."

Brewster got his wish, and shortly after the draft, signed as one of the Jaguars' 17 undrafted rookies. He wasn't the only one surprised he went undrafted. CBS Sports NFL Analyst Pat Kirwan shortly after the draft ranked as the No. 1 undrafted player in the 2012 draft class.

Still, while his attitude is good, and while things worked out, he won't say he was immune to the events of the weekend.

 "I'm still shocked," he said Thursday as he spoke to the media the day before the Jaguars' three-day rookie mini-camp, which will be held Friday through Sunday at EverBank Feld. "I'll never know what happened. It's pretty unbelievable, I'll really honestly never know.

"Everything happens for a reason."

One reason, he figures, is opportunity. Jaguars center Brad Meester is entrenched as the starter, but he is entering his 13th NFL season. When talking with Jaguars officials, Brewster said they told him the team must get younger at the position sooner rather than later.

The backup center, John Estes, is a player the Jaguars like, and who has been discussed as a possible replacement for Meester. Brewster said he looks forward to the competition.

"I'd love to help at guard too," he said. "I'm here, I want to find a role, whatever that may be, and make the best of it. Obviously there are other guys that I've heard that play center. I'm here to help the team in any way I can.

"If that's play guard for a couple of years or whatever it is I just want to be on the squad."

And if he didn't already know things had worked out for the best, he said he did Thursday. Driving from Orlando to EverBank, there were no Ohio farms, just Florida palm trees. That was good, he said, and as he drove, the weekend that had just passed bothered him less than before.

If it ever bothered him too much at all.

"I couldn't be happier being back home in Florida," he said. "The winters were a little rough on me, so I'm probably one of the happiest dudes in the draft.

"I couldn't be happier, to be honest. It all works out in weird ways."

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