When the Braxton news hit, I was crushed. It's my senior year and, selfishly, I was in denial. I wanted to see a national championship while I'm still in school here. So I've been moping around all day, until about five minutes ago.
Apparently Braxton said to his teammates last night that he's redshirting and coming back if the doctors ruled him out this season. Yes, that's a spur-of-the-moment type of decision.
Also, 1) Hope is not entirely lost yet...
2) I think he will be back, and I'm not alone...
FAR too early to say with any certainty what Miller will do in terms of coming back but NFL folks have told me they'd advise him to return
— Marc Givler (@MarcGivlerBG) August 19, 2014
3) This team is going to be very good anyways.
Anyways, into the meat of my long post now...
By all accounts, JT Barrett is one hell of a leader and he has intangibles that are off the charts. And he's physically gifted enough to run this system. The skill positions are much more talented this year.
This isn't last year's defense. I think they'll surprise a lot of people. This might be a bit foolish of me, but whatever. Bear with me here.
The 2014 team is going to be an exciting young team with a shot at winning every game they're in. Will MSU be a huge challenge? Yes. But so was Wisconsin my freshman year. And a true freshman QB threw this bomb to a true freshman WR and shocked the world.
This isn't that 2011 team. The coaching is better, there's more talent and there's more depth. We're still a 9-10 win team, possibly better.
I have no problem watching a young and exciting team my senior year. And looking ahead to 2015 is pretty fun...
Key seniors this year: Devin Smith, Evan Spencer, Jeff Heuerman, Mike Bennett, Curtis Grant, Doran Grant.
Replacements for those seniors: Corey Smith, Mike Thomas, Nick Vannett, Tommy Schutt/Mike Hill, Raekwon McMillan, Eli Apple/Gareon Conley/Damon Webb/Marshon Lattimore/Armani Reeves.
As for players leaving early for the draft, I think Decker, Elflein and Perry are the kind of players who will stay basically no matter what. Adolphus Washington could get some draft attention but it's too early to really project that, seeing as he'll be flanked by 3 first-rounders.
Noah Spence could declare but even if he does, Jalyn Holmes has been very impressive, so has Tyquan Lewis. And we're still in on Josh Sweat, plus we have Cornell and Jones committed.
The biggest weaknesses of the 2014 team, on paper, were backup QB, the inexperienced o-line, and inexperience at linebacker.
In 2015, if Braxton comes back, JT would likely slide back down to backup QB, turning that into a massive strength for the team. The o-line won't be inexperienced or going through growing pains anymore.
McMillan will start in front of Grant at linebacker, flanked by a third-year starter (Perry) and a second-year starter (Lee) with good backups at each spot.
The defensive backfield? Well, it'll be Vonn Bell's (or Cam Burrows's) second year as a starter. Same for Powell. The corners will be a battle between Reeves, Apple, Conley, Webb and Lattimore. By then, I think that'll be a strength as well.
The only potential big losses are probably the assistants, but I think everyone thought Herman and Warriner were gone this past year. Who knows, maybe they decide to come back? If not, we're Ohio Damn State, we'll get top assistants.
The players we're losing after this year all have obvious in-house replacements. Our core is mostly made up of sophomores and juniors, and when the #Dream14 has a year under their belt, we'll see some special things. Add Braxton to that equation and it's a recipe for success.
I'm still going to every 2014 game. I'm staying for Carmen, as I always have. I think this team can surprise a lot of people. And the future is brighter than ever.
So sit back, enjoy today's gorgeous Columbus weather, put on this song, and relax. O-H!