Braxton Miller Returns with History on his Mind

By Kyle Rowland on January 10, 2014 at 9:15a
34 Comments
One More Year: Braxton Miller's return comes with high hopes for 2014.

One week ago, Braxton Miller was being pounding into the Sun Life Stadium turf in between turnovers. Following a second straight loss, this time in the Orange Bowl, Miller stood next to his locker and laughed when reporters asked him about his impending decision – staying or going?

It had to the feel of a going away party. But a week later, Miller started his spring semester of classes and quietly announced he’d be returning to Ohio State for his senior season. Now, he can leave a legacy with few equals.

“I want to help this team win a Big Ten championship next year,” Miller said in a statement. “Plus, I want to improve as a quarterback in all aspects of my game. I’m looking forward to working for another year with Coach Meyer and Coach Herman.

“And I want to graduate, so this will help get me closer to my academic goal.”

The decision greatly changes the outlook on the 2014 season, the first with a four-team playoff. Instead of starting a first-year starter, the Buckeyes get the services of a four-year veteran. Ohio State is projected as a consensus top-10 team for next season.

Only five starters return on offense, where there will be four new starters on the line, a new running back and several inexperienced wide receivers. But Miller’s presence cancels out much of the mystery surrounding a revamped offense. Sources inside the program indicated the wide receivers could be better, even with the departure of Philly Brown.

Devin Smith and Evan Spencer return, and Corey Smith, Mike Thomas and Jalin Marshall should all take on bigger roles. Corey Smith in particular has been raved about and described as the total package for his route running, speed and pass-catching ability.

Despite receiving a mid-to-late round grade from the draft advisory board, Miller grappled with his decision until reportedly sitting down with Urban Meyer on Thursday. It's believed Miller was leaning toward staying throughout the process.

“We look forward to having Braxton Miller return to this team for his senior season,” Meyer said. “He has been an extremely valuable member of our team and he is also a fine student. His desire to lead our team to a championship, to earn his degree from The Ohio State University next spring and to continue to improve as a quarterback are his motivation.”

“I want to help this team win a Big Ten championship next year.”

Miller likely would have cost himself a considerable amount of money if he left this year. A host of quarterbacks, including Teddy Bridgewater, Johnny Manziel, Blake Bortles, Tajh Boyd, A.J. McCarron, Zach Mettenberger and Aaron Murray, were all projected to go higher than Miller, who could have fallen to as low as the seventh round. 

One scout told Eleven Warriors he believed Miller could move into the first or second round with a big senior season. Other quarterbacks presumed to be part of next year's draft class are Jameis Winston, Brett Hundley and Marcus Mariotta.

In December, Miller was asked if he was NFL-ready to which he answered yes emphatically.

“Of course, definitely,” he said. “It’s just another step in life.”

A three-year starter, Miller is the reigning two-time Silver Football Big Ten MVP, offensive player of the year and quarterback of the year. He’ll be favored to complete the trifecta next fall and be a front-runner for the Heisman Trophy. There are numerous school records that could be in jeopardy as well, a majority of which belong to Art Schlichter. 

Miller is 505 yards shy of passing Schlichter’s total offense record of 8,850 yards. Miller needs 2,256 passing yards to eclipse Schlichter’s school-record of 7,547. Miller’s only one touchdown away from tying Schlichter’s 85, and he needs 11 wins to reach 37 and become the winningest quarterback in school history. Six touchdowns passes for Miller will get him to 58, one more than Bobby Hoying’s career record.

Missing from Miller’s resume is a conference title and bowl victory.

During his three-year career, Miller has amassed 3,054 rushing yards, already more than any other quarterback in Ohio State history. He has 32 rushing touchdowns. Running comes to mind first when the subject turns to Miller, but his passing accuracy has improved steadily each year.

He’s gone from a 54 percent passer to 58 to 63.5. The latter two seasons were under the tutelage of Meyer and Tom Herman, who’s expected to stay on as offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach for 2014. The past year was a bit bumpy for Miller. He missed three games with a sprained knee, and after completing 72.5 percent of his passes there was a major drop off the final five games.

“Last year, I felt he was an athlete playing quarterback. Now, he’s a quarterback,” Meyer said in late October. But from that point on, Miller regressed.

Miller told the Chicago Tribune that he grew tired of being hit. But he backed away from those comments prior to the Orange Bowl.

Although Miller is returning, that doesn’t mean there won’t be a quarterback competition during the spring and fall. Kenny Guiton’s graduation opens the backup position, leaving Cardale Jones, J.T. Barrett and Stephen Collier to compete to be No. 2 behind Miller.

“I’ll just take it day by day and get better,” Barrett said after the Orange Bowl. “[You have to] make sure that you show the coaches that you’re able to run the show.”

He’ll have to wait until 2015 for that audition, because Braxton Miller is back.

34 Comments

Comments

chirobuck's picture

Well.....lets hope he takes that step and learns to beat a defense with his arm and his mind rather than his legs....if he does the sky could be the limit

 
^ best post ever ^

d5k's picture

change "rather than" to "along with" and I agree 1000%.  If he can start to break the pocket and be a legit threat to run and pass the offense will be crazy good.  Looking forward to the position battles at WR as I expect better WR play overall and hopefully a better rapport with Braxton.  Missing those 3 games hurt because we repped passing a ton in those games against lesser competition and Braxton needed those reps.

SHAKENBAKE68's picture

Great write up!! I hope our young QBs paid attention to Kenny G.!! Be ready at all times!!
 
Go Bucks!!

There is no such thing as "friendly fire"..

Hovenaut's picture

Two B1G MVP awards, will become the school's all-time offensive leader and I believe he still has another gear in him as a quarterback.
I think it will speak volumes if he solidifies himself as a legit passer in 2014, behind a new offensive line and among inexperienced, though talented, skill players.
Very happy he's finishing what he started.

"Success...it's what you do with what you got" - Woody Hayes

IBLEEDSCARLETANDGRAY's picture

Hope he and some of his WRs do another visit with George Whitfield in the offseason. Didn't Mike Thomas work out with him last time? There's no doubt Braxton's passing took a huge leap in 2013. If he can take the next step watch out world.

"Sherman ran an option play right through the south" - Greatest Civil War analogy EVER.

Larryp713's picture

Glad he is back. I think if Braxton learns to throw receivers open (as Gruden and Spielman say, throw to a spot rather than to a person), he will be selected in the top 3 rounds next year's draft. In some ways, the new offensive line and receivers will push him to be quicker with his release and decision making and might prepare him better for the next level.
And if he doesn't make that leap early in the season, he will have a lot more to complain to the Chicago Tribune about. I think he knows this is the best personal decision for him, and he will avoid a Roby-esque period of second-guessing.

Respectfully,

Larryp713

osu07asu10's picture

This off season, spring practice, and fall camp will still be very important in getting a pecking order behind Braxton.
I certainly hope not, but history has shown Braxton may miss some game time next season. It is important that all Cardale and JT both get plenty of looks so they are comfortable if called upon during the 2014 season.

"They don't know what they don't know." - Coach Mick

extemporary08's picture

Ooh hell yeah! If he can stay healthy all year, he'll without a doubt set the all time wins record next year.

dtanmango's picture

The thought of Braxton having his OSU diploma makes me smile.

-dtan

Hetuck21's picture

If the last two years have shown anything, it is that JT better be ready to go from day one next season. He will get snaps during the season and they may be at key times. He needs to go into came thinking he is locking down the #2 spot without a doubt and when his number is called, they can call any play needed to get the job done.  

dubjayfootball90's picture

Nice write up, good sir. It is articles like this that get me way too pumped way too early for football to start.

kcbrez's picture

I think Braxton's decision to come back next year and graduate will help him achieve greater things both on and off the field. In addition to football, he'll always have a home in Columbus at the university, much like Archie and Eddie who are ambassadors for the school and the athletic department without equal.

BuckeyeChief's picture

Without being negative here, does anyone find it ironic that Brax is going to break all of Art's record, and they both lost to Clemson in the Orange Bowl in the same fashion? Wow, that is crazy.

 

"Clutch has no boundaries"

BuckeyeChief's picture

I am very happy he is coming back though.

 

"Clutch has no boundaries"

ScoobyKnows's picture

Yes, I am so happy that he mentioned getting his diploma was important as well.  I am already stoked for the 2014 season!  Is it fall yet?

HattanBuck85's picture

I've been saying this since the '06 season: we NEED a dominate WR. Yes, Braxton hasn't looked all the great at times passing, but it also doesn't help that his WRs can't get open. When we play tougher opponents, it seems like our WRs get shut down. If we are to beat the FSU & Alabama's of the world, we have to get better. It's great that Spencer is a terrific blocker, but if you can't get open, we become a one-dimensional team. And Devin Smith has to become consistent. I think we know Spencer & D. Smith's ceiling. For us to compete for a national championship, someone out of Jeff Greene, Corey Smith, Jalin Marshall or Michael Thomas has to step up and be THE GUY. 

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

InvertMyVeer's picture

Part of this falls on Brax too. Devin has great speed/good hands and a history of making some huge plays but he can't throw the ball to himself and we've all seen the moments where Brax (either through pre-snap read or as the play progresses) gives up on the pass in favor of scrambling.

Football is complicated...

ScarletGray43157's picture

The opponent defensive backs know this as well, so they look to hold coverage long enough for Braxton to run instead of pass.  Braxton had an honest moment when he publicly said he doesn't like to get hit, and opponents past and future know this and will try to make him run instead of pass.  If Braxton can stay in the pocket long enough his receivers could get open, but so far he hasn't show the ability to do that.  

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

d5k's picture

Think about what you said a little more...   Defenses try to force Braxton to stay in the pocket and pass.  They do not ever encourage him to run.  If we came up against a defense that actually did that Braxton would run for 200 yards easily.  Every defense we play against tries to contain Braxton with a controlled pass rush and spies and with scrape exchanges and edge blitzers against the run game.  If they played the run straight up he would get to the second level and make a guy miss and make 10+ big plays per game in the running game.  A lot of people on here are extremely undervaluing Braxton's running ability.  Hyde is a truly great back but the reason a great back runs for 7 YPC is other things are opening up the tailback running game, in this case the threat of Braxton running causes 2 defenders to commit to the edge leaving guys inside having to play multiple gaps to contain Hyde.
Braxton pats the ball too long in the pocket and sure some of that falls on him and some of that is he knows he can often escape with his legs.  But a lot falls on the lack of separation of WRs as well.  I am looking forward to a return to the days where we had guys who you know will get drafted in the NFL sitting on the bench at WR (Robiskie's sophomore year comes to mind) behind other NFL-caliber guys.

kb1's picture

Completely agree with this. There is no Ginn or Gonzales or Sanzenbacher or Galloway or Hartliine or Posey or Jenkins or Gamble or anybody like the receivers we have had in the last decade or so on this team. Revceivers need to step up this year. Prove me wrong please Receivers.

d5k's picture

Or Boston or Glenn or Galloway or Carter.  Philly was close to a Hartline level and then there was a huge dropoff.  Devin is capable of big plays against bad defenses but that is about it in the passing game.  I'm glad these guys are great blockers but we need guys who can legitimately do it all at least at a Posey type level who was a good NFL-caliber player but not even top 5 of the last decade.

d5k's picture

Recall what Posey was able to do coming back for TWO GAMES with RS Freshman Braxton.  Opened up a ton for a mediocre offense.  If Corey Smith can be close to that level of play we should see more out of the WR group.  All the redshirts could set us up for a ton of depth at WR the next few years.  If guys leave early for the NFL that is fantastic as it means our passing game is humming.

ibuck's picture

Hattan, why can't there be several GUY's as WR's? 
Of course, we need the QB  to hit WR's in stride, and to throw them open, as commented above.

Our honor defend, we will fight to the end !

HattanBuck85's picture

Oh, I agree with you. It would be nice to have another guy. But as I re-watch this years film, defenses were daring us to pass. They would stack 8 in the box and and we STILL couldn't get the ball to our receivers. Listen: Robiskie, Stoneburner, Devin Smith & Chris Fields are nice....but we need play makers to take us to the next level.
With El Guapo gone, defenses are more than likely going to follow the same path: force Braxton to beat them with his arm. And if Devin Smith is having trouble making 5 receptions against Purdue, then I worry about what he's going to do against the FSU's & the LSU's of the world. 
With that said, I trust Urban & the staff but we need to recruit AND develop WRs better than what we have been doing the last 5 years or so...

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

d5k's picture

It's hard to criticize development before they reach the field.  A lot of guys don't come in ready to start as true freshmen.  And maybe we redshirted guys that could've contributed later in the year.  The staff like most of the fans including me thought the passing game had turned a corner and that Smith and Spencer were becoming reliable targets.  Similar things happened on the defensive side with choosing to redshirt guys.

Buckeyeflip's picture

Welcome back Braxton, time to step up and show the nation you can win the big games and be that strong senior leader!!!

BuckToAsT's picture

Now, we wait to see if KennyG can get a GA position. 

Barnsey69's picture

Number 5...oh my god NUMBER 5...he keeps every play alive....for a Buckeye Touch Down!
Glad you're back B-sizzle.

I am a modern-art masterpiece.

wyatt's picture

There has always been excitement with the OSU receivers getting great press in Spring practice and pre-season.  Then flops or drops during the season against weak competition.   Show me results.

d5k's picture

Number 5 is alive

KLF Buckeye's picture

Depending on how quickly Dontre Wilson progresses, I think he will provide a lot of opportunities for Braxton to get the ball out very quickly and still get great yardage.

Condor's picture

I haven't thought about Art's on field exploits in a long time. His passing numbers for that era at OSU were awesome.

"Do not fear me gypsy, all I want is your tears."

 -- Borat Sagdiyev

 

3-yrds_and_a_CLOUD's picture

Braxton will leave as a Buckeye Legend and that alone is a great reason to return. If the NFL doesn't work out he will have a college degree and I am sure just about anyone in Columbus would love to hire a legend like Braxton. I think he will have a good year and the Oline will reload and I look forward to a more productive year from our WRs which will help XBrax showcase his passing ability for the NFL scouts.

“Success is the inner satisfaction and peace of mind that come from knowing I did the best I was capable of doing for the group.”
- Jim Tressel