Braxton Miller Returns as a More Skilled Quarterback with Added Motivation

By Kyle Rowland on February 21, 2014 at 9:15a
31 Comments

It’s been eight years since Ohio State’s season-long starting quarterback was a senior. That year – 2006 – the Buckeyes played for a national championship. Two full classes have come and gone since, as has controversy at the fashionable quarterback position.

Stable is now the apt description. Miller returns to Ohio State after brief flirtations with the NFL – and shoulder surgery – for his fourth season as the starting quarterback. It was Troy Smith who ran roughshod over the competition in 2006, piloting one convincing win after the other and winning the Heisman Trophy by the widest margin ever.

On a recent winter day, Miller was strolling through the halls of the Woody Hayes Athletic Center, admiring the trophies and names on the wall. One person in particular stuck out.

“I walked past a board the other day and my name is right under Troy Smith,” Miller said. “I texted him, ‘Hey man, check this out. I’m right behind you.’ He said, ‘That’s a good look. Keep it up.’ 

“I’ve just got to keep putting in work. He’s got the big thing. He went to the [national championship game]. He’s got the Heisman. I’m working towards all that.” 

On Wednesday night, two members of Miller’s blockade and two offensive weapons sat inside an Indianapolis hotel pondering their future. Miller could have been with them, conducting final preparations for the most important job interview of their lives – the NFL Combine.

Instead, the Buckeyes’ quarterback was in Columbus accepting the Chicago Tribune Silver Football trophy for the second time in as many years in front of 15,878 adoring fans. In 2014, he’ll go for the three-peat, an act that’s never been accomplished.

“I am incredibly proud of Braxton,” head coach Urban Meyer said in December. “To be one of only four players to win this award twice is a testament to the exceptional young man we have quarterbacking the Buckeyes.”

The most decorated individual in Big Ten football history claims he never seriously considered spurning Ohio State for the NFL. An early-season injury derailed visions of a Heisman Trophy and a loss in the Big Ten Championship Game halted national title ambitions.

In his final season in Columbus, a city where Miller could run for mayor, he’s fully aware of the history that’s in front of him.

“You want to accomplish things that you didn’t accomplish in your first three years,” Miller said. “I feel like I left little things out on the field, and I can achieve all my goals. That’s why I wanted to come back. Getting more polished in the pocket. I think the games changing. From the shoulders up, I need to learn everything.”

He also cited graduation as an ingredient in the decision-making process. But Miller admitted he always knew another year at Ohio State would be the end result. After the Buckeyes’ 24-game win streak turned to mush with consecutive losses to end the season, Miller was faced with a smorgasbord of possibilities involving his future. Once the emotions came back to Earth, a meeting with his family and coaches occurred with a unanimous decision being reached.

“[We] observed everything and made sure I was making the right decision,” Miller said. “It wasn’t too hard of a decision. At first, I was thinking heavy about everything that was going on at the time – Orange Bowl, Big Ten Championship Game, national championship game – but after everything settled down, I made the right decision with Coach [Meyer] and my parents.”

Said Meyer: “Braxton and I have a very good relationship. I told him my opinion that he could become a very high draft pick if he continues to improve, and he said, ‘That’s what I thought.’ It wasn’t much more than that. We met together as a family, had a very positive conversation and made the decision. I gave my opinion as far as how much he could grow as a quarterback.”

Miller’s not shying away from the massive expectations that await. There are three levels of goals the Buckeyes will strive for – the Big Ten title, a berth in the playoff and a national championship. For Miller, there’s also a set of individual honors that would serve as an appropriate sendoff.

The process of rewriting the record book is already underway. Miller is currently Ohio State’s fourth all-time leading rusher, 715 yards behind second-place Eddie George, and the eighth-best passer, 2,256 yards behind leader Art Schlichter. When Miller’s career concludes, his name will appear in nearly every statistical category relating to rushing and passing.    

“As improved as he got on the mental side, he can still get a whole lot better,” offensive coordinator Tom Herman said. “He can make the same leap this year and still have work to do. So just the confidence, the studying of the game, studying of defenses and studying of our plays now that we’ve done kind of the same thing two years in a row.”

Freshman seasons are rarely perfect products, and Miller’s first season was no exception. There was a steep learning curve, an old-fashioned offense and lame duck coaching staff. Results were immediate under Meyer and Herman and advanced in Year 2.

Herman explained that he was more proud of Miller’s second Silver Football, though, because Miller’s development as a passer was so great.

“I think he won it the year before because he was the starting quarterback of an undefeated team, played well, made a lot of plays,” Herman said. “But I think this year he won it for being a quarterback. That was important for him and important for us to take the necessary steps to improve offensively. He’s on a really good trajectory of improvement right now, and that makes me proud.”

Miller is coming off consecutive seasons of 2,000 yards passing and a combined 39 touchdowns against just 13 interceptions. Miller’s also rushed for more than 1,000 yards the past two years with 15 touchdowns. The major pieces missing from an otherwise unforgettable career are the Heisman and national championship.

To get there, Miller believes he must get stronger mentally and continue improving his mechanics and ability to read defenses. His passing production dropped off considerably the final month of last season, which contributed to his draft stock plummeting. Miller wouldn’t reveal what grade he received from the NFL Draft’s advisory board, only saying it was “one of the best evaluations you can get.”

The man most responsible for Miller’s continued progression is Herman. He and Meyer’s up-tempo, spread philosophy is perfectly suited for Miller’s skill set, as evidenced by two seasons of rousing success. The third year could yield the ultimate desired results and provide a boost for both Herman and Miller’s aspirations beyond Ohio State.

“He’s got a chance, obviously, when he leaves here to set dang near every school record imaginable, every Big Ten record imaginable and win a championship,” Herman said of Miller. “And then, hopefully, he’ll be a first-round draft pick.

“In my opinion, this was the best thing for him, because he didn’t have anything to lose and everything to gain by coming back. It was very wise.”

31 Comments

Comments

Hovenaut's picture

Very happy Braxton is finishing what he started, and I think it could be a very special finish.

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

+3 HS
Seattle Linga's picture

A lesson we could all learn

Furious George 27's picture

I couldn't agree mor..........

Yeah, well…that’s just like, your opinion, man.

+3 HS
Chief B1G Dump's picture

Whats totally allsome about it, is that anything we get from Braxton in regards to passing game improvements is just MORE icing on the cake.  Our offense did enough to win every single ball game last year with the running game and only really hitting receivers when they were wide open.  When you think about improving on the passing, that only ups the scoring and opens the playbook to overcome our losses last year OR obviously the alternative is to get a couple more stops on D but that is not the point of the Braxton convo.  

Anyhow, I know we lost Hyde and some veterans on the line but with us having more talent than everyone on our schedule next year, a scheme advantage and (there has to be because it cant get worse) an improved defense...anything that Braxton improves on is a spoil of riches...I feel good that even if Braxton doesnt improve on his reads and progressions in the passing game, that it wont be as noticeable anyhow because our receivers are going to be more dynamic and streaking open H.A.M. this season.

It would be great to get this offense really humming, like it should and can, but that we have only seen in spurts to this point.  This is the 3rd year in a row that we have heard about solid work and offseason improvements in passing...im ready for the shredfest.  With the numbers he has already compiled, Braxton is poised to have the crown jewel of his career this year and really put his mark in Buckeye lore.

 

Before someone nerds out on me, I am aware this is his 4th year starting...but it is his 3rd year returning.

BuckRock's picture

Simple:

1) Braxton is a great runner, exceptional !!!!

2) Braxton has targets named:  Huerman, D. Smith, E. Spencer, M. Thomas, Dontre Wilson, J. Clark, Jeff Greene, J. Dixon, C. Smauel, Eze Elliot, need I say more.  He is surrounded by talent on all sides and facets of the game.  

3) If we simply use him in the:  Run/  Run option/ Short Passing game we win all games including the Natty!!!

It really is about throwing underneath stuff to these electric backs and receivers.  I mean come on man, who in the nation can keep up at Linebacker with Huerman, Dontre, Samuel, Clark, Thomas, EZEK running around  ????       Answer:  no one.

Enough said: Develop the same passing program of one Russell Wilson or similar QB.  Short underneath routes exploiting easy mismatches in coverage with our faster, and sometime taller receivers.  5 to 10 yard pass plays should kill defenses and should allow Braxton to complete well over 70%.  It will force defense to bring defenses backs forward and play downhill on our receivers that is when you burn them with a 25 yard pass over their heads with 1 of our speedsters.  It opens up the running game as well. It creates all sorts of holes and openings and we have all those tools right now!

 

Go Bucks!!!

 

 

+1 HS
Killer nuts's picture

Poll Question: Will Braxton Miller's number 5 be retired at Ohio State at some point in the future?

Edit: Will his number be recognized and hung in the stadium along side the other such players/numbers

+1 HS
osu07asu10's picture

Nope...

When all is said and done, I think Braxton will go down as one of the greatest QBs to ever don the Scarlet and Gray but there are a handful of other greats who deserve recognition as well.

I think that if he takes care of business all of the (future) accolades and honors will follow

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

+4 HS
DeepSouthBuckeye's picture

Braxton will be remembered as one of the all time greats. If he can win a Championship in his last game in S&G, there will not be too many names above him on the list of greatest Buckeyes.

Loving all things Buckeye from SEC country in Alabama.
"How firm thy friendship....O-HI-O"

+4 HS
FitzBuck's picture

Braxton follow this simple seven step program

Step one: don't miss a game to injury

step two: complete 70% of pass attempts 

step three: win every game

step four: win BIG title

step five: win Heisman 

step six :  win national championship 

step seven:  become top ten draft pick

see it's easy.

 

 

Fitzbuck | Toledo - Ohio's right armpit | "A troll by any other name is still a troll".

+10 HS
Seattle Linga's picture

Step One - Focus on beating Navy August 30th.

+9 HS
doodah_man's picture

Izzackly...baby steps...

Jim "DooDah" Day
It is hard to play dirty against a man who picks you up.

+2 HS
Seattle Linga's picture

DOODAH Man - I love your creativity on your spelling words!!!!!!!!!!

doodah_man's picture

Product of an Ohio State edjumacation..

Jim "DooDah" Day
It is hard to play dirty against a man who picks you up.

+1 HS
OSUpawn's picture

Miller represents everything Ohio State!!  Go have a senior year that future recruits can look at your achievements on the wall. Go Bucks!

I believe the SEC players put their pants on one leg at a time like we do.

+1 HS
buckeye_heart's picture

Improving his passing is what will make or break this year for him. He has all the other intangible assets.

+1 HS
bergy22's picture

Got a brand new Buckeye #5 Nike progear jersey just in time.

Stinson's picture

woooooooooooo

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

zacisone's picture

I agree with Hovenaut. Go Bucks!

Zacisone

osu07asu10's picture

Don't worry Braxton, Big Meechy and Co. are going to keep you clean and upright this year!

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

buckeyestu's picture

Coming back to finish his education is the most important thing.

+2 HS
LouGroza's picture

Anyone that has ever had shoulder surgery, I've had three with the last one being a replacement, may feel that a MINOR shoulder surgery only exists in fairy tales. I wish him the best and hope he gets through it as good as ever. He has the best facilities and people to help him rehab, that's for sure. 

doodah_man's picture

Yea...the term "minor surgery" is like "a little bit pregnant".

Jim "DooDah" Day
It is hard to play dirty against a man who picks you up.

+2 HS
Barnsey69's picture

He could be the greatest OSU QB of all time if he wins a title, and in the conversation even if he doesn't. Assuming he stays healthy and puts up similar or better stats than 2013 season, he may be the all-time leader in both rushing and passing. As Kyle mentions, he is already top 5 rushing and will certainly finish top 5 passing. That is an incredible achievement anywhere, but even more remarkable at The Ohio State University.

Go Braxton! And Go Bucks!

 

Thank the Maker that I was born in Ohio, cradle of coaches, US Presidents, confederate-stomping Generals, and home of The Ohio State University Football Buckeyes!

+1 HS
bishop072's picture

A young Tawny Kitaen would agree; Braxton is Back for More 

 

 

+2 HS
doodah_man's picture

I have to say that I have never enjoyed watching someone run as much as Brax. I am normally a defense fan but, everytime I see him totally fake someone out of their socks, it warms my cold Buckeye heart. Brax is one that I have no problem with making big $$ at the next level.

Jim "DooDah" Day
It is hard to play dirty against a man who picks you up.

+1 HS
buckguyfan1's picture

Leave it all on the field Brax.  Use your weapons around you and be a good leader.

I will miss watching him play when he moves on.  Best of luck to him!

bucknut94's picture

Hopefully, he will get a great start without playing through injuries. He should have some skilled players behind him

Ericgobucks's picture

I, for one, hope he starts the season off under the Heisman radar. I think the pressure of trying to do "too much" adds to the stress of an already difficult situation and can cause pressing. Braxton should continue to play within the system and his numbers will come. Breaking in a new line and sans Carlos will be big adjustments. If we take it one game at a time and grow in the trenches and at skill positions, we can have a really special season. I think on the other side of the football we simply have to get better because I don't think we can get much worse. Here's hoping Ash can build some cohesion to the defense and get the right guys in the right spots. 

allinosu's picture

I think Herman can help  some with a little more strategic pass play calling. There were times when we rarely threw unless it was an obvious passing situation. Some games we opened up throwing successfully and it went away early. Excited for the year.

BuckeyeB9B82501's picture

"The major pieces from an otherwise unforgettable career are The Heisman and the National Championship."

4geting about the B10 Championship too. Can't win a National Championship without first winning the B10 Championship. I think if Miller dominates everybody (like we all know he can), wins the B10 Championship and earns a spot in the playoff he will win The Heisman and then there will only be the 1 last thing for him to do to cement his name in Buckeye lore as "the best QB in school history! " ...... and thats going out and winning the Naty!!!! I personally believe he will get it done this year. He already has the talent around him to get it done and he WILL have the D he needs to win it all!!!!!! GO BUCKS!!!

Buckeye Dynasty starts in 2014 baby !!!!!! GO BUCKS !!!!!!!! O - H - I - O

Crumb's picture

Brax is already one of the greatest Buckeye QBs, if he brings home the National Title he'll be THE best Buckeye QB. I hope he keeps doing what he's doing and has fun while he's at it. That's something I think gets lost sometimes now days from the game of football. Having fun and being yourself. When the pressure is on heavy like it is for all these young Buckeyes, that's what I'd advise them to do; have fun and be the person they want to be.

"The only good thing about it is winning the d*** thing" - Urban Meyer on The Game The War