Braxton Miller Continues Evolution as Leader, Quarterback

By Kyle Rowland on July 25, 2013 at 9:30a
Braxton Miller has a newfound confidence.

CHICAGO – The talk wasn’t all related to off-the-field drama at Wednesday’s installment of Big Ten media days. It may have dominated the headlines, but actual football was discussed as well. Some schools, maybe an Illinois or Minnesota, would choose to focus on cute stories about community service or team mottos. At Ohio State, though, it’s all about football.

One year ago, Urban Meyer said he coached the best group of leaders he’s ever been around. He spoke of John Simon in glowing terms, going as far to say that he even questioned his own place on the team because of Simon’s impassioned speech following the Cal game. That same type of leadership has not been spotted yet on the 2013 Buckeyes.

The situation looked so bleak that the football program brought in an outside firm to instill leadership qualities into the players.

“I noticed very average leadership in January,” Meyer said. “I saw a void in leadership, and that’s when we started our process and programs, and even having an outside firm coming in to systemically approach leadership. It’s an uncomfortable position for an 18- or 19-year-old kid to be in. Guys are going to have to step out of their comfort zone.”

When coaches make a call to action, leaders emerge. And as Meyer said, the barrier between the comfort zone and the unknown is shattered. That scenario has taken form with quarterback Braxton Miller.

Dating back to high school, Miller has been the star every time he stepped on a football field. His leadership skills waned, though. Miller has also been popular in the locker room, but he’s soft-spoken and humble. Brashness is not part of his makeup, choosing instead to let on-field production be the memo.

When he speaks to reporters, Miller talks in a hushed tone, sometimes not even audible. But that hard shell is starting to peel off. The off-season has included organized offensive workouts by Miller with some yelling mixed in.

“I’m much more vocal now,” he said. “I’ve been telling them if they run a route short, the two extra yards make a big difference in the throw. I’m not ready to set my feet if you run the route two yards short, so I’ve got to be more vocal and tell the guys.”

It was never an uncommon sight to see Woody Hayes grab a player by the collar or facemask. But the mild-mannered Braxton Miller? An outburst of emotion would be like a spotting a unicorn. Not anymore.

Senior left tackle Jack Mewhort said Miller has taken the Hayes strategy and gotten into teammates faces via the collar grab. Still, Miller remains unpretentious and doesn’t give off the vibe that he’s Jay Cutler part II. Dressed in a classic black and gray suite, Miller looked like a svelte magazine cover boy.

“To be a functional throwing football team, you have to take control of the whole situation. He didn’t do that a year ago.”

“He’s a completely different guy,” Meyer said. “The job of a quarterback, especially in college football, is to organize and take control of the throwing game. The NCAA gives you 20 hours per week. In the off-season you can do everything but throw a football. So he isn’t getting the adequate coaching.

“To be a functional throwing football team, you have to take control of the whole situation. He didn’t do that a year ago. He wasn’t experienced at it. If we are very productive throwing the football, its because of quarterback took charge.”

In Ohio State’s 12-0 season, Miller was named the Big Ten’s offensive player of the year, as he generated over 3,000 yards of offense, 28 touchdowns and completed 58 percent of his passes. It wasn’t always pretty, though. There was improvising and throws with poor mechanics.

“You’ve got to work hard at it,” Miller said. “My fundamentals, just being compact and not getting too excited when I see some guy come open. You’ve just got to be mellow, set your feet and throw the ball.”

Part of Miller’s off-season work included taking a side trip to San Diego to work with quarterback guru George Whitfield. Another Whitfield client is Johnny Manziel. Other than being dynamic quarterbacks, there isn’t much Miller and Manziel have in common.

Miller steers clear of controversy, while Manziel seems to bring it on. The latter also is boisterous, verging on cocky. Until Ohio State’s recent series of mishaps, the entire summer has been dedicated to Johnny Football blunders.

“I don’t like getting in trouble or anything like that, or getting all crazy,” Miller said. “If you ask anyone, I’m just silly and fun to hang out with.”

On the football field, Miller’s new pal is incoming freshman Dontre Wilson. The late addition to the Buckeyes’ recruiting class gives the offense a high-powered running back who can do it all. He fills the hybrid role Meyer has been looking to close since he was hired in November 2011.

Wilson’s standout high school career included yards and touchdowns that mimic videogame numbers. 

“He brings a different type of game, definitely,” Miller said. “He just wants to make plays. He says, ‘You throw it low, I’m gonna get it. You throw it high, I’m definitely going to get it.’ He says every chance he gets, he’s going to take it to the end zone. He already knows how to run the routes that we have, so that’s a big plus.”

Regardless, the pressure of a perfect season rests on Miller’s shoulders. After going through growing pains as a freshman, he responded with his first undefeated season, doing so without feeling completely settled in a new offense with a new quarterbacks coach. One year later, Miller has received all the tutoring needed from Meyer and Herman to rightfully be mentioned in the same sentence as the Heisman Trophy.

“I feel so much more comfortable now,” Miller said. “There’s one year under my belt in the same offense. I feel like everybody knows what they’re doing. I take my three steps, I know Devin’s going to be there on an out-cut. I can just place it anywhere and do what I do.”

Said Meyer: “He’s really grown as a quarterback and grown as a leader. Very humble young man that I have a lot of respect for.

“I haven’t seen the ceiling on the wonderful kid. I hope it shows up soon, because when it does it’s going to be fun to watch.”


Comments Show All Comments

dubjayfootball90's picture

Well, I am ready for some football. 37 days!!!

You can feed a bobcat all the chili it wants. That don't mean it's going to crap out diamonds.

AngryWoody's picture

Can. Not. Wait.

Our Honor Defend!

droessl's picture

I know the expectations/projections for Miller and this team are sky high, but after (as Braxton said) a full year under Meyer's offense under his belt has to help. As does having a real QB coach and spending time George Whitfield. Love his talent and his desire to stay out of off-field trouble. Here's to a full, healthy season! 

BKLYN_Buckeye's picture

Going to be fun to watch.  Miller to Dontre- get your popcorn ready...

216ToThe614's picture

Pick up your feet, turn your corners square! And DRIVE DRIVE DRIVE!!!

buckeyedude's picture

I just hope Braxton can take a deep breath and relax. The pressure he's going to be under, I can't even imagine if I was his age. The LAST thing I want is for Braxton to play "tight." Relax, and let it flow, Braxton. You're going to make a mistake here and there, but learn from them and enjoy the ride.
This season is going to be special, I have a feeling.



Hovenaut's picture

I think Brax has brought it to the table from day one with his physical talent. He seems to be well grounded off the field.

Reading about his progress in asserting his role as a leader....his getting in Noah Spence's grill during the spring as an as impressive as anything I've seen/heard from him yet.

Really like to think we're going to be reminded of the best we saw from Krenzel, Smith and Pryor in Brax...all while he writes his own legacy.

And he's only a junior to boot.

okiebuck's picture

I get the feeling that like many of us Braxton could give a rip about the Heisman but he sure would like to hoist that crystal football come January. Go get it Buckeyes!

"Fate has cards that it don't want to show"

hit_the_couch's picture

The most important part, he got rid of that blonde mess on top of his head.

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

German Buckeye's picture

It is hard to not get too amped up for the season about to begin.  I want to see a machine, a harvester, plowing thru the regular season chewing up and spitting out opponents on the way to Pasadena, culminating in a blow out verses (hopefully) a SEC team in the MNC.  That my friends, would be a most satisfying fall and winter.  I am ready for it to begin. 

Edincostarica's picture

So many people are expecting so much from this team this year. Let's just hope everyone stays healthy AND stays out of trouble.
If I could speak with the team I would tell them to FOCUS on what's important. It is right in front of you......Good Luck Buckeyes. The Buckeye Nation is 100% behind you.


osubigcunn's picture

I hate the anticipation. The worst thing is before you know it the season is over. Play 16 or 18 games!

Run_Fido_Run's picture

If D. Wilson and/or one of the other heralded playmakers makes immediate impacts this year, I could see this offense being like 2012 Clemson on steroids
For 2012, Clemson ranked 36th in rushing, 13th in passing, 9th in total offense, and 6th in scoring. FEI had Clemson with the 13th best offense. 2013 Ohio State will probably be more run-heavy and runs a somewhat different offense, but it might be interesting to compare the offenses because both were/are relatively talent-driven versus relatively systems-driven (e.g., 2012 L Tech, 2012 Baylor, 2012 West Virginia).
Actually, in the event that D. Wilson. e.g., explodes on the scene this year, on paper 2013 Ohio State should be more productive, explosive, dynamic than 2012 Clemson:

  • 2013 Miller > 2012 T. Boyd
  • 2013 Ohio State OL > 2012 Clemson OL
  • Hyde et al v. 2012 Ellington (6th round NFL draft choice) is debatable . . .
  • 2012 D. Hopkins > Smith/Philly
  • 2013 Ohio State TEs > 2012 Clemson TEs (Brandon Ford undrafted NFL free agent).
Stinson's picture

Clemson. Meh.

"The height of human desire is what wins, whether it's on Normandy Beach or in Ohio Stadium." -Wayne Woodrow Hayes

Run_Fido_Run's picture

Why meh? 2012 Clemson went 11-2 with a Chik-fil-A Bowl win over LSU despite having a so-so defense. Give Ohio State similar offensive production with a typical Silver Bullets defense, and big things would be possible.

hit_the_couch's picture

College stats are somewhat overrated. 120 + teams and very few somewhat close schedules. There are MAC and other mid major teams ranked high on some of those stats.
The only way that crap is completely valid is if there were a 120 team round robin.

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

Run_Fido_Run's picture

I agree that college stats - really any stats - can be overrated, but if we keep things in perspective (e.g., strengths of schedules, matchups, etc.) and don't have grandiose expectations for what stats can tell us, they can be useful tools. What's the alternative?

CC's picture

You forgot Sammy Watkins, probably their best player.

Run_Fido_Run's picture

Yes - oops. My entire reason for thinking about Clemson in the first place is that if the Buckeyes had a play-maker who could make defenders miss in space at or close to the level of Watkins, that the Buckeye offense would be even better.

Arizona_Buckeye's picture

It is scary to me when I hear Braxton say he is feeling much more comfortable in this offense - the numbers he put up last year can very well be a mere appetizer to what he puts up this year!!! 

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

MN Buckeye's picture

It is great to see Brax gain in confidence and leadership. Besides the great talent, he is a grounded and is maturing in front of our eyes.

OSUStu's picture

Miller remains unpretentious and doesn’t give off the vibe that he’s Jay Cutler part II. 

Shouldn't BrewstersMillions be here objecting to this?

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

tussey's picture

I laughed so hard when I read that quote.

XUbuckeye's picture

I love how humble and unbecoming Braxton is, but boy when those lights come on does he shine. Also, you never hear anything about Braxton off the field. Keep leading by example #5!

"So when you get knocked on your butt, get up, get over it, and then next time, kick their ass." - Woody Hayes 

Arizona_Buckeye's picture

FUCK!!!!!  Just talked to a friend of mine who is a close associate with the victim's family - he viewed the video and confirmed that Carlos did make contact with her face and the prosecutor wants to file charges!

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

German Buckeye's picture

This comment is not related to this article, but slow the roll and wait until the facts are presented.  Have we not learned to not jump to conclusions yet?

Arizona_Buckeye's picture

Gee thanks for pointing that out!  I'm sorry, I must have been the very first person to ever post off topic, especially about such a non story such as Carlos Hyde!  My apologies for wasting your valuable time and I will try to remain inside the lines next time!

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

buckeyedude's picture

Who you going to believe? A friend of yours who is supposedly a close associate with the victim's family(really?), or Braxton Miller?



Arizona_Buckeye's picture

In this case - I'm going with my friend!  If there was nothing on that video, the cops would have already said so and dropped the case.  Obviously there is something on that video that is causing them to continue evaluating their options.

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

Stinson's picture

"The height of human desire is what wins, whether it's on Normandy Beach or in Ohio Stadium." -Wayne Woodrow Hayes

pjtobin's picture

He laughed and said no!! I cannot wait to see this machine run. If our offense is as good as I am thinking, then our defense will be ready for anything. Trying to chase all of our speedsters around would be great exercise for anyone. Do we know who said they got tired?

Bury me in my away jersey, with my buckeye blanket. A diehard who died young. Rip dad. 

Dougger's picture

I also chuckled. Bad news for everyone else. 
All of this stuff just gives him a chance to do great things. He's still gotta prove it. I really believe he'll come through when it counts.

I like football

pjtobin's picture

I just want to dance around singing " I'm gonna pop some tags". I don't know why that song came to mind? I am amped about ball starting. 

Bury me in my away jersey, with my buckeye blanket. A diehard who died young. Rip dad. 

buckeyestu's picture

The offense scored over 37 points per game last year. The players know the offense this year, more speed with the freshmen coming in. Is it possible to average at least 50 points a game this year?

buckskin's picture

Miller represents OSU very well.  Glad to hear he has taken more charge on the field yet remaining a gentleman and class act off the field.  Come on football season, get here.

Natron D14's picture

So happy my son's name is Braxton... (born in 04, pure coincidence...) Everytime they say his name on the television his eyes light up and his attention is so acute and intense. He absolutely loves Xbrax and I can not think of a better role model than this young man for my son to aspire to... outside of me of course... ;)

AT1 (AW) Dawson - Buckeye Born and Raised 

Larryp713's picture

I had the same feeling in 2006... my son Troy was a couple months old when the season started. Troy Smith brought great pride to that name.