He was always “Billy’s little brother” to me. But at some point during middle school, he became Billy’s not-so-little brother. The first time I remember playing against Billy’s 6-foot-something, 200 lb brother, he was in eighth grade. As we stepped onto the basketball court at Lake Highland Prep, I remember thinking, “I’m never going to be able to stop this kid if he gets the ball”. So I didn’t let him have it. In my only one-on-one game against him, I prevailed victorious, with some much-needed help from the three point line along the way — it was the first time (and probably the last time) I got the best of Mike Brewster.
Even at that time, I was probably lucky I wasn’t facing off against Mike Brewster on the football field. Most of the time, however, I had the fortune of playing with, and not against Mike Brewster in middle and high school. Even as the youngest player on our team, he was a behemoth of a man. Watching the 5-foot middle schoolers on the other prep teams we played against try to guard him was some of the best entertainment I ever saw. Football, basketball, track – the coaches wanted him to play every sport because they could all fit him in somewhere. He wasn’t just big – he was agile, deceptively fleet-of-foot, and had a soft touch around the hoop.
What stood out about Mike while I knew him was something that doesn’t normally stand out about high profile athletes during high school — how genuinely nice he was. You never caught Mike Brewster without a huge, sheepish grin on his face. Actually I’m pretty sure that grin and the “nice” gene run in the Brewster family. His brother Billy had them, his parents had them, and he certainly had them. And you know the thing about genuinely nice people? People like to be around them. There was nobody on our team – and likely no one at our high school – that didn’t like Mike Brewster.
Now I know my far-too-nostalgic Jaguar fans are groaning because the most characteristic qualities I can remember about our new starting left guard was that he was “nice” and “likeable”. I know you old-school-fans want your offensive linemen “nasty”. If they’re gonna be in the trenches, they can’t be nice! They need to be physical, they need to play with a mean-streak, and they need to do what it takes to keep the quarterback on his feet. Old-school-Jaguar fans, you need not worry. As nice as Mike was off-the-field, he was that competitive on-the-field. His passion was indubitable and by the time I graduated, Mike Brewster wasn’t going to back down from anybody on the other team. He isn’t in the same mold of lineman as the player he has replaced, Eben Britton. Where Britton exudes some nastiness and violence even his persona (his neckbeard is intimidating), Brewster is a hard-nosed competitor that can get fiery – a little bit more like Eugene Monroe. In fact, he’s like a more serious version of another high-profile Lake Highland Prep graduate – former Steelers left tackle Max Starks.
From undrafted free agent to starting left guard, Mike Brewster has made some huge leaps in the past few weeks. With this big jump, Mike is certainly going to have some growing pains – the offensive line isn’t an easy position to play in the NFL and there’s a huge step-up in competition, especially in the defensive line in the NFL. But hey, going from undrafted free agent to 3rd-highest-graded lineman on the Jaguars isn’t too shabby in just a couple weeks? Stay plugged in on the Mike Brewster story. The Jags might be onto something here.
– Zain Gowani