Little Summer Break For Braxton Miller, the Impetus of Ohio State's Hopes and Dreams

By Patrick Maks on June 30, 2014 at 1:15p
27 Comments

While ComFest swelled and the bars boomed and bounced in downtown Columbus this weekend, Braxton Miller chose to spend at least one of those nights throwing footballs to Jalin Marshall inside an otherwise deserted Woody Hayes Athletic Center.

On a Friday night.

In June. 

It's far more telling than it is bizarre. 

Because Braxton Miller, Ohio State starting quarterback and local celebrity or not, is still a college kid.

Because it’s a Friday night.

Because it’s June.

And it’s hard to fault Miller or for taking or wanting to take a brief step away from football for one fleeting evening.

But even with two months left until the Buckeyes kick off another campaign brimming with conference and national title hopes, these are the kind of nights that could separate coach Urban Meyer’s squad from good to great.

These are the nights that remind us Miller is Ohio State's impetus.

These are the nights where the senior can forge the foundation for a final season that’ll ultimately determine his legacy in Columbus.

Faced with a new-look offense that lost four veteran offensive lineman and its two other most productive skill players in former running back Carlos Hyde and former wide receiver Corey “Philly” Brown, he’ll command a talented, yet largely unproven, unit next season after flirting with the NFL Draft first.

It’s a sizable task for even Miller, the back-to-back Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year.

Why? 

For Ohio State to maximize its potential next season, Miller will have to go from a quarterback to a field general. And while he's taken steps in that direction, the Buckeyes' upcoming campaign is a crossroads. 

He seems to know it, and so does Meyer.

“The problem Braxton had is he never had a grinder in front of him,” Meyer said after the team’s annual Spring Game in April.

“If you remember his history, the normal progression of a normal freshman quarterback is to come in and play behind a monster … he came in, and we had the (former star quarterback) Terrelle Pryor issue and he left.

“All of the sudden, Braxton is the guy. That's not the way to do business, it's no one's fault. That set him back more than helped him because he didn't have a chance to prepare.”

Of course, Miller’s athletic gifts made him a near-instant sensation when he took over the starting quarterback job in 2011 after the school’s Tattoo-Gate scandal cost it former head coach Jim Tressel and a level of stability attained by few programs. Pryor left amid swirling NCAA violations and the Huber Heights, Ohio, native was cast into the fire.

Ever since, Meyer and offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Tom Herman have toiled trying to mold the potential Heisman Trophy candidate’s brain into a sponge fluent in the language of football. They want him to be able to impel others around him toward a common goal. 

The physical talent is there. It’s always been there. And Miller’s made leaps and bounds of progress in respect to his craft while helping lead Ohio State to a 24-2 record over the last two seasons.  He completed 64 percent of his passes for 2,094 yards and 24 touchdowns and ran for 1,068 yards and 12 touchdowns in 2013.

Yes, Miller’s an elite athlete and arguably one of the most electric players in the game today.

But to be an elite quarterback and have a shot at making a living in the NFL someday, Miller will need to be able to talk football with NFL scouts like CEOs talk quarterly reports. He'll need to be able to lead grown men at the next level. 

Fortunately for him, it’s a matter well within his control.

“He knows football,” Herman said. “He’s actually really football smart.”

But it doesn’t matter much if Miller can’t articulate such a level of intelligence.

“It’s the speaking the language thing that we’re working on with him so that when a GM or a scout or offensive coordinator comes in this time next year and puts something on the board that all that football knowledge can come out,” Herman said in March.

It should pour out onto the field, too. In some ways, it already has. 

Because while spending a Friday night in June working out inside a muggy indoor field isn't glamorous, it’s smart. It's profitable. 

Because even though it’s the weekend, Saturdays at Ohio Stadium aren’t too far off in the not-so-distant future.

Because even though there’s a million other things to do, this little token of overtime is reflective of a Braxton Miller who understands his incredible sway on an Ohio State team gunning for a return to college football glory.

“I believe he gets it now,” Meyer said. “He's a wonderful kid that wants to be great.”

27 Comments

Comments

allinosu's picture

Braxton will continue to excel but he has to stay healthy or will things could get bad for us.

+3 HS
OSUpawn's picture

Thank you Miller for being a Class Act guy and representing this university that we love! 

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

+9 HS
BigZ's picture

If he can stay healthy Braxton has BIG things ahead of him this season! Glad to see he is working hard this off season!

¯\_(ツ)_/¯

+1 HS
TheShookster's picture

Braxton has given up his body so many times for a touchdown or even just a first down. Hopefully this year the multitude of young weapons around him will help shoulder some of the weight.

+11 HS
bleedscarlet's picture

He was a warrior in the Orange Bowl... hurt early, planted TOO often and still just kept coming.

I'm too drunk to taste this chicken

+6 HS
Nashville Buckeye's picture

God help me if I have to hear Matt Millen say, "He's a Hurtin' Buckaroo" one more time....

+8 HS
mrspray's picture

Every once in a while I take a moment to remember that Bauserman started for a bit Miller's freshman year, and just how terrible that was. I admittedly wasn't as entrenched in this team as I am now, and wondered why fans would want a freshman with no experience to start over the super-senior throwing the ball into the stands past the sidelines. What a terrific gift Braxton has given us fans - I'm sure he hopes that his senior year blows the last 3 away.

Unky Buck's picture

I think I might be more intrigued with the fact that Jalin is there working with him. Don't get me wrong, OSU's greatness this season rides on Braxton's shoulders, but the fact that an unproven Jalin is there working with him shows that the commitment is prevalent throughout the team. God, this could be a special season.

...

+10 HS
Bloombergl's picture

Was thinking the same.  Props to Jalin - a guy whose been dealt a tough hand with the injury and could be pouting about not getting much personal hype going into the season.  Great to see that guy alongside Brax working on a Friday night in June.

+5 HS
Barnsey69's picture

He is Buckeye to the bone, like so many greats before him. 

It is his turn to become a legend.

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!

+2 HS
BuckeyeLurker0509's picture

Heisman will come down to Brax, Hundley and Mariota. Hopefully the good guy(s) win.

+2 HS
Alpo's picture

If he can manage to lick the crab butter off his throwing hand, Winston will have something to say about how it ends up. But yeah here's to hoping the heisman returns to Columbus!

+1 HS
Nutinpa's picture

I'll gladly give the Heisman to one of the other guys.....as long as the crystal ends up in the WHAC!

+2 HS
buckeyedexter's picture

3000 yards passing and 30 TDs this year!  Could be higher, but he'll be coming out early in some of those games.

bucknut94's picture

Great job Braxton, I wish you the best of success. Practice, perseverance, and patience.

+1 HS
zebiraross's picture

As long as we can solidify our o-line, it's going to be a special year.

Zeb

+4 HS
Nutinpa's picture

 Could not agree more. 

Here's hoping the O line is putting in plenty of time on Friday nights building their skills right along side of Miller.  He's going to need them...and they will need him to cover up their messes.

+1 HS
Ajake15's picture

Without the smooth jazz to rely on this year, we will only go as far a B.Miller takes us......

Buster Tillman was underrated

+2 HS
Tater_Schroeder's picture

I wonder who the third person was that was there with them. Someone has to be taking the picture, right?

How Firm Thy Friendship

+2 HS
BuckeyeStrong2's picture

It could be a player, but also a staff member or coach that let them into the facility...

"BLOOD. THIRSTY. BUCKEYES."

hawkins.326's picture

Was reading this article and got to thinking about 2011. I think I've wiped that entire season from my memory because the only play I remember is Braxton's hail mary.

+1 HS
Fatpants's picture

If he wants hardware he's gonna have to do it with his arm.

+3 HS
DC-town's picture

It may be crazy o think this in an urban Meyer offense, but it would be nice to see a 'Troy Smith' progression where he ran a lot as an underclass man and picked people apart in five wides as a senior-

not expecting that with this offense, but they have to limit his touches and hits...no smooth jazz baking him up is even more reason.  And they have plenty of other playmakers to get the ball to-

'Piss excellence' -RB

+3 HS
chemicalwaste's picture

Supposed to be for another story. Apparently I had elevenwarriors.com open in multiple tabs. Edited and moved.

NuttyBuckeye's picture

You know, I wasn't much of a follower of Meyer while he was at Florida, but I always thought his offensive philosophy was to have a running QB, more like a RB with an arm.    But now that he has spent two years here and hearing him, I really do believe he prefers a strong ground game and a passing QB that can run when needed.

I really hope that Braxton is able to finally put up great passing stats this season.  It will help with any chance at winning the Crystal Football, and help him with an NFL future.

Marc Pocock (a.k.a NuttyBuckeye)

What's round on the ends and high in the middle? Tell me if you know!

+1 HS
45has2's picture

Urb said he never had a power back like Mr. Hyde before and he had never had a 1000 yard rusher before. I think once he got both of them in one package he liked it. It also doesn't hurt to have the ghost of W.W.H. whispering in your ear down at the WHAC. I agree with another poster here that B.M. needs to progress a la Troy Smith and become a throw first QB. Let the big boys tote the rock.

"I don't like nice people. I like tough, honest people." -W.W. Hayes