Braxton Miller: The Anti-Manziel

By Jeff Beck on July 15, 2013 at 2:00p
Polar Opposites

A reputation. In many cases they’re easy to build and in most cases they're much harder to shake.

A reputation is an opinion others have formed about an individual based on past actions. When those actions are positive, favorable reputations are built. When they’re negative, that individual becomes Johnny Manziel.

Manziel’s reputation caught up with him this weekend as reports of his early departure from the Manning Passing Academy were quickly followed by speculation that he was asked to leave the camp. Apparently a wild Friday night rendered him tardy Saturday afternoon.

Since the release of the first reports the story has been massaged into something much different by both the Manziel and Manning camps. But that doesn’t erase the flurry of stories that came out initially, ultimately fueled by the persona Manziel has built for himself over time.

Stuff like this, this and this make it a lot easier for news-starved offseason CFB writers to connect the dots. Fair or not, they’re painting a picture with the watercolors Manziel provided.

For all intents and purposes, Braxton Miller should be Johnny Manziel. Both play for large schools (OSU and Texas A&M are in the top 5 in the US in terms of enrollment), both are the same age (Braxton is 6 days older than Johnny Football), both exhibit incredibly rare football talent and both are on-campus celebrities.

Yet the two couldn’t be more different. Google Johnny Manziel and you’re served a litany of party photos. Google Braxton Miller and the craziest photo you’ll find is No. 5 with a blonde Mohawk (RIP 2013-2013).

That’s because Braxton is a rarity in sports; a star player who prefers to stay out of the spotlight. The Manziel’s of the world are a dime-a-dozen, but Miller is unique. It’s not something he’s trying to do, it’s just who he is.

This from WR Philly Brown last season:

Not a controversyThe only non-football headline Braxton has ever made.

“He's a quiet person in general.”

This from strength coach Mickey Marotti in an interview with Bruce Feldman:

“He was just so laid-back. I had to learn patience with him. I have ants in my pants. I'm used to quarterbacks -- Jarious Jackson, Brady Quinn, Chris Leak, Tim Tebow -- they're all workout guys. With him, he was just so laid-back, it was like 'whoa, whoa, whoa,' I wasn't used to that. That's his personality.”

And this from offensive coordinator Tom Herman:

“He’s the best player on the football field, and you wouldn’t know if he was walking next to you in the hallway. It’s a first for me, having his unique persona.”

The personality trait that sets Miller apart is the same force that drove him to ditch the mohawk just days after unveiling it. When asked why he left the 'do in the dust he said, "I don't know if that was me."

That’s because Miller simply doesn’t like to draw attention to himself, a trait he nearly exhibited to a fault in his first season. This from Corey Linsly on Braxton in the huddle during his freshman season: 

“He had a hard time at first. He kept all his feelings inside. He didn’t say much to get us going.”

While some of that pensiveness undoubtedly originated from Miller’s standing as a true-freshman on the squad. Ample evidence seems to suggest that’s just Braxton doing Braxton.

With that said, the coaching staff believes they can cultivate a big-man-on-campus persona for Miller on the field while allowing him to maintain his low-key personality off of it.

One such tool for achieving that end are Meyer’s leadership meetings. The weekly sessions are held for a select group of Buckeye players and feature leaders coach Meyer respects. The end goal is to teach said players how to lead by example and in-turn, demand the same effort from teammates.

Miller has been a member of these sessions and they seem to be paying off. Herman had this to say about Miller’s progression as a vocal leader.

"If Braxton was a one on a scale of one to 10 when I got here, then maybe he finished the season around a four and maybe he finished spring ball around a six. The cool thing with him is he can be a 12."

Quotes like that coupled with reports from Spring ball of Miller grabbing teammates by the collar and telling them to step up their game while also getting into the face of Noah Spence, seem to suggest something is brewing within Braxton. The hope is that "something" is what will allow Miller to accept the spotlight and lead every Saturday, while still maintaining his humble demeanor.

The good news is Braxton has fostered an incredibly positive reputation on AND off the field. If Meyer and company can get him to accept and even embrace the role his abilities have garnered him, Braxton will be remembered as a Buckeye great. Nothing more, and certainly nothing less.

That’s exactly how No. 5 wants it.


Comments Show All Comments

Arizona_Buckeye's picture

I'll take a Braxton Miller / Archie Griffin type every single time!!!  Gracious, humble, comptetors, and all around gentlemen that will gut you on the field!!!

The best thing about Pastafarianism? It is not only acceptable, but advisable, to be heavily sauced

81Alum's picture

+1, and I'm not being a Buckeye homer.

OSUs12-OH's picture

This is a great story and comparison to why Braxton would be very humble and grateful for winning the Heisman if that were the case last year.  Now we know what's up with Johnny Football this year and I never once could have predicted how he's acting.  I don't think many could have predicted how he's acting.  It's a shame bc I've seen ppl even on here defending Manziel.  He's doing a disservice to himself, his coaches and above his team.
I could easily see Braxton being very quiet about winning it afterwards.  I think their personalities are polar opposite.  Personally I like Braxton being mild mannered and getting more and more comfortable as we saw last year before and after Purdue.  He was a bit hesitant after that slam of a hit but this year should be really special.   I can't wait and it should be interesting to see how it ends up.  

"I want a hungry team. I want a team that can't wait to get out there. I want an angry team! You're the Ohio State Buckeyes. You're an angry football team. You're a hungry football team and I'm proud to be your coach." UFM

Michael's picture

People aren't defending Manziel, they just understand how it probably feels to be 20 years-old and a major college football star.
Were you perfectly composed when you were 20? I sure wasn't. The only difference between you, me, and Manziel is that the national media didn't follow us around in college, visually chronicling our day-to-day exploits.
Braxton's poise is certainly commendable, but as this post says, Manziel is dime-a-dozen in terms of how he acts for a 20 year-old.

BierStube's picture

I agree with Michael.  If cell phone cameras were around (back in the day) I know I would have some less than flattering pics floating around.  The fact that Braxton does not is not a good or bad thing.  He is his own person and as such has decided to live his life his way.  If Johnny football goes out and has another great year, then congrats to him.  But if he under performs, look out!  To me he does not look focused, time will tell.  Which would I rather have, not sure.  But the year end result may answer that question for me.

"No matter where you go, there you are." B. Banzai

OSUs12-OH's picture

Let me explain something to help with my perception of Johnny Football. I'm not saying he should be a person wearing a white and black suit going door to door for Jehovah's witness.  I'm just saying that Braxton would be different in this case due to the article.  
The other stuff that ppl are definitely defending him by stating he's young, did you do everything perfect?  Well what if you were a R.S. Fr Heisman winner?  To this question I'd say No.  I know me, and I would go do what sounds fun for a while, then after one or two months, I'd be with my teammates.  Getting ready to try to win another one and get better as a team.  I'm sorry Mike, but this isn't what I see happening for Johnny and possibly (which we don't know for sure) his teammates are probably getting tired of seeing him in the limelight.  It's getting old to me, just put yourself in the shoes of his teammates (considering without them he'd have no Heisman).  I'd say this is more my point than the old BS that he's a kid and what would you be doing crap.  That manurer is getting hard to sift through for me personally.     

"I want a hungry team. I want a team that can't wait to get out there. I want an angry team! You're the Ohio State Buckeyes. You're an angry football team. You're a hungry football team and I'm proud to be your coach." UFM

whobdis's picture

Have to agree..I don't really care about his partying but it's starting to bleed into other activities. The whole mess with leaving the camp is just one example. He had a responsibility
 but apparently decided the Friday night partying was more important. He has plenty of time for that..put it aside on occasion when your committed to something. He's under a microscope now..that's for sure.

smith5568's picture

I don't have any issues with Johnny Manziel going out and partying and behaving like a typical twenty year old. However, his recent issue at the Manning Camp is extremely frustrating for reasons I pointed out in another post.  

DaytonBuck1980's picture

I agree with you that Manziel's behavior is nothing out of the ordinary for a 20 year old. My issue is that Manziel isn't an ordinary 20 year old and seems to go out of his way to draw this negative attention to himself. All the pictures, the twitter crap, those are all situations that could easily be avoided. 

Still not giving a damn for the whole state of Michigan. 

fear_the_nut70's picture

Columns like this make me nervous in a knock on wood sort of way.  Every indication is that XBrax is indeed the exact opposite of Johnny Football.  Still, given that they are kids and with all that we just went through, I am always cautious about drawing conclusions about teenagers who have been worshiped from the time they could grip a football.

Unky Buck's picture

Both play for large schools (OSU and Texas A&M are in the top 5 in the US in terms of enrollment), both are the same age (Braxton is 6 days older than Johnny Football), both exhibit incredibly rare football talent and both are on-campus celebrities.

"Who gives a f**k about an Oxford comma?" - Vampire Weekend

Rock over London; Rock on Chicago. Timex: It takes a lickin' but keeps on tickin'

AndyVance's picture

Ah, yes, the Oxford Comma. Alas, we hardly knew thee.

OSUStu's picture

I still care about the Oxford comma.

If you always put limits on everything you do, physical or anything else, it will spread into your work and into your life. There are no limits. There are only plateaus, and you must not stay there, you must go beyond them.  ~ Bruce Lee

Unky Buck's picture

This has me cracking up...well done, sir! Well done!

Rock over London; Rock on Chicago. Timex: It takes a lickin' but keeps on tickin'

Dougger's picture


I like football

jthiel09's picture

I'll take a humble player on/off the field over the show-boat-look-at-me player on/off the field any day.


Hovenaut's picture

Great read....I remember reading updates heading into the spring game, and Brax had ripped into Spence for making contact with him.

That's being vocal. That's the type of personality I want at quarterback, the leader needed bearing the duties and responsibilities required of the position.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but the only offseason story on our quarterback was that he worked out with a QB coach? Voluntarily?

So I'm not bashing Manziel. I'm just thankful we have a Braxton Miller to root for this fall.

AndyVance's picture

We had an interesting discussion of Manziel being Manziel versus Braxton doing Braxton at my 11W blog earlier this year: while folks were asking probing questions about Miller working with QB guru George Whitfield, Manziel was busy living like a highroller at every NBA game (and locker room) he could find. It was a very interesting discussion.

osubuck57's picture

I'll take Brax ten times over. Nothing against Manziel, just like the quiet General on/off the field!!


Edincostarica's picture

I really think we will see a huge stride forward with Braxton this year in more ways than one. He really seems to be a special person.


Earle's picture

I find it interesting (and sad) that The Johnny Manziel Story seems to be already well into its second act.  I hope for his sake that it's a short one and that he turns it around before the credits roll.
The good news is that the arc of The Braxton Miller Story is from all appearances still on the rise after a 12-0 season. 
The even better news is that football starts in 47 days.

Have you tried Not Your Father's Root Beer?  It tastes just like the real thing, but it packs a punch (5.9%ABV).  It's a little sweet for me though.  Two is my limit.

FROMTHE18's picture

The guy's attitude towards himself and his teammates is exceptional. Very proud to have him as our QB.

Menexenus's picture

Johnny Football is flaming out before our eyes. Dude needs an intervention.

Real fans stay for Carmen.

IBleedSandG's picture

Be humble
- Roy McAvoy


Denny's picture

Humble! Scrappy! Does Things The Right Way! Blue-Collar! Hard-Nosed! A Man Of The People! Well-Spoken!


hodge's picture

Whoa whoa, Denny; Dane Sanzenbacher's been gone for quite a while now.

Denny's picture

Nobody ever confused Dane Sanzenbacher for Well-Spoken.


corveyer's picture

I don't think a lot of the criticism that Manziel has gotten has been entirely fair. Everything a lot of you have said is true he is young he has earned the spotlight and deserves to enjoy it, as well as just being college kid in general. That said, for people in any college football players position fair or not they are held to a higher standard, its the price a of doing business if you will. I haven't once looked at any of JF's party photos and thought they were inappropriate per se, but when you start to link them to actual trouble he is getting in then that becomes an issue. I try to separate actual trouble from drinking underage because I for one have no room to judge for underage drinking, I was the last of my friends to turn 21 and frankly once in college I don't see how it feasible or fair to heavily enforce it.
Back to real trouble, I think this thing with the Manning camp should be wakeup call and IMO is the first thing I have seen from him that really gives me pause. While sure I can understand some  people's opinion that he shouldn't be flaunting his life so publicly and that has some merit, in this current case it goes beyond that into actual irresponsibility. I wasn't there and like everyone else don't know exactly what happened, but what I do know is he had a responsibility to the camp to show up and do his job whether or not he volunteered or was being paid as a counselor  if not for anything else than for the kids who paid to be there who he was supposed to coach/mentor. By all accounts he showed up late to the camp and then was a no call no show on Saturday morning, in any event if he was actually sick you need to call and frankly at least give a good faith effort to show up for the kids. In my experience no call no show, absent some sort of valid reason, = getting fired, which is more or less what happened. Then he claimed to be actually sick you show up out on the town in College Station that very night, all the way around its just not a very good look. Don't want to indict a 20 year old for this incident as it could be more or less isolated and we don't exactly what happened (albeit it does seem pretty clear from the evidence),  but as a lot of commentators have pointed out for someone whose looking to go to the NFL he really should act more responsibly. 

hit_the_couch's picture

Nothing wrong with keeping it low key. It just makes things so much sweeter once properly introduced.

And then I told her...i'm no weatherman, but tonight's forecast is calling for several inches!

Oldschoolbuck's picture

A humble person is someone who realizes he can always improve, that he doesn't have everything (life, career, relationships, etc.) "figured out."
I want my quarterback to be uber-confident; I don't want an arrogant ass that feels "entitled". I think Manziel has amazing skills -- he needs to realize they are God-given, which would motivate the humble man to work that much harder honing and polishing them. I think XBrax IS such a man; time will tell if Johnny M is.
Yeah, give me a team of Braxton Millers any day!

BrewstersMillions's picture

Johnny walked into Tuscaloosa as a RSFR and beat Alabama. Regardless of his antics, the dude has balls of steel.
If I was faced with a choice of Miller or Manziel I'd be hard pressed to pick one over the other but the last I checked, off the field antics have yet to affect on field play.

LadyBuck's picture

Miami circa Shaprio's time waves hello.

BrewstersMillions's picture

What are they waving at? While those guys were playing football and doing whatever they were doing they were winning games at a historical clip, winning a national title, losing a national title to some dude in a Sweatervest and sending players to the NFL at a rate that hasn't been matched this side of Pete Carroll's Trojans. Their off the field antics did nothing to stop their otherwise dominant era of football. Now, that era eventually came to an end-the aforementioned sweatervested one drove the first dagger into its heart-but their eventual downfall had nothing to do with what they were doing with Shapiro. They hired two piss poor coaches in Coker and Shannon-guys totally incapable of being the guy at a place like The U.
The point I'm making is what Johnny is doing right now isn't affecting his team's success. Now I will eat a buffet full of crow if pictures of him out and about a day before a bad loss surface but for right now, there is a lot being made about nothing whenever it comes to Manziel. Until that comes up-and I'd be shocked if it didn't-nothing the guy is doing deserves any venom.

LadyBuck's picture

It was a unresearched post of mine, but I'll agree to disagree with your opinion.

BrewstersMillions's picture

That they were winning a ton of football games? Disagree away.

cajunbuckeye's picture

It's all fun and games, until someone get's suspended from the team. Or an eye gets poked out. That would directly effect on field play.

An angry fan...rooting for an angry team...led by angry coaches

LadyBuck's picture

I definitely enjoy watching Braxton grow before our eyes. It is awesome to see how well respected he is by the staff and his teammates on and off the field. Thank you Braxton for admirably representing Buckeye Nation, your team, and yourself.
As for Manziel, he's just at the point where it's getting old to everyone, and, well, team chemistry is a fickle mistress that tends to separate the good from the great. If I were an A&M fan, I'd be ticked at him. Party's over, get to work, the next season is around the corner, son.

Basso Profondo's picture

I absolutely love hearing nothing but practice notes about #5 until the season rolls around.  He does his thing, I do mine; and come gameday we can both celebrate as he dances in circles around our opponent.  Nothing more, nothing less. 

William's picture

I really don't care about Manziel, and if anyone is actually getting upset over some college kid acting out, there are things like poverty, and tyranny, that you should be getting far more upset over. 

Also, I've run into Miller a couple of times on campus the past two years, and he is one of the quietest dudes I have ever met. 

Larryp713's picture

All you Manziel defenders sounds like Florida-apologists from a few years ago. A coach has to establish a program designed to not accept the transgressions of the 18 yr old appetite, which I believe coach Meyer is doing, or accept/ignore such behaviour, which defines the UF and OSU teams from 2007-2011.
I encourage coach Meyer not to accept the notion that boys will be boys, forgiving the occasional DUI or felony. These should all be major transgressions. Marcus Baugh's poor choices this last weekend should be addressed. Not saying he should be booted, but definalely put on a probation status to ensure he makes the necessary course correction.
I hope Johnny Football isn't as lost as he appears to be. But equally, I hope that if he was a Buckeye, Coach Meyer would drag his butt on the carpet an straighten him out. Above all, I am glad Braxton does not appear to need that hands on approach to keep him humble. Let us all appreciate what we have in Brax, contrasted with Manziel.



William's picture

Not defending him. I just don't give a shit about what he does. My view on Manziel is best depicted in this image: 

DannyBeane's picture

I don't care what Manziel is doing on or off the field. Its his life so whatever. I am sick to death though of hearing about every transgression. Is it football time yet?

CentralFloridaBuckeye's picture

Braxton is much classier and has a much better head on his shoulders.  Glad he's our guy!
Go Bucks!

iamcbs's picture

Why is a young man's life subject to constant scrutiny. How many of us haven't done some silly things in our youth, even now!!

I am not afraid of an army of lions led by a sheep, I am afraid of an army of sheep led by a lion~Alexander the Great

warosu's picture

Of course it's the sec!! They will not drag it out because it's not The Ohio state university! Whatever happened to those three or four players that beat up,and rob someone for fun? Oh I forgot it's not THE OHIO STATE UNIVERSITY!

warosu's picture

Sorry, those cats from Alabama who robbed and beat up someone for fun

scottynoshotty's picture

just to give an example of Braxtons character I work down at nationwide childrens hospital and one night he came in to visit a patient, on his way out he had signed OSU stickers that he gave out to everyone in the lobby without anyone having asked him. pretty awesome to see such a big star be so cool

Well i like college and i like football...and im gunna keep doin em both cause they make me feel good!!!

hcazualcc's picture

johnny manziel is doing what most college students want to do...unfortunately he gets the spotlight

buckskin's picture

The ONLY thing I want Braxton to do that Johnny's done is beat Bama.  Did I stress only?  It is such a nice change of pace when a star on the field is so humble off of it.  Class act all the way around.

ScarletGray43157's picture

I'm perfectly fine, actually ecstatic, with B. Miller staying humble and focused on the job at hand.  Maturity is a plus.  A huge plus.  

In old Ohio there's a team that's known throughout the land...

t-dub's picture

Abe Lincoln said
"Character is like a tree and reputation like a shadow. The shadow is what we think of it; the tree is the real thing."  
we all know that the position of the sun will change the size of a shadow, the question is whether the sun is setting or rising on little Johnny?  I hope it's not setting, but it doesn't look good 

"What is our aim, I can tell you in one word. Victory" Winston Churchill

TraptnMI's picture

I'm tickled to death that brax is taking leadership classes and is improving. Didn't believe he had it in him. Team needs it.

" It's real good whatcha done Anthony, real good ! "

Brutus_or_Bust's picture

Great article...keep em comin'!!!