Braxton Miller's Leadership Could Make or Break Ohio State in Quest For Championships

By Patrick Maks on July 31, 2014 at 8:15a
Braxton Miller's leadership will be huge for Ohio State's season.

CHICAGO – It’s 8:30 a.m., and Braxton Miller is tired. Really tired.

Sitting at a round table surrounded by cameras, recorders and reporters watching, documenting and analyzing every tick, he can’t stop yawning on this unusually chilly Chicago morning in July.

And so it’s no wonder why the expression on Ohio State’s senior quarterback’s face looks like it's searching for a way out of the final block of Big Ten Media Days Tuesday.

Instead, he has no choice but to sit in a chair and absorb volleys of the same questions by different faces for the next two hours.

Like, how’s your shoulder, Braxton? Do you think you can stay healthy? Can you be a Heisman contender again? How's the offensive line coming along? How has your team responded after finishing the season with back-to-back losses? Are you gunning for payback against Michigan State? Can you win the Big Ten title? Can you make the playoffs?

"I'm just answering the same questions over and over and over," Miller said with a wide smile when asked what his favorite question was. 

But as people come and go, the once-uninterested expression across his face starts eroding. Now he's smiling and laughing. Miller – an introvert who prefers to let his play speak for itself – starts to open up.

He looks like he's actually enjoying himself. And even if he isn't, it doesn't matter because you can't tell the difference. 

Getting peppered with redundant questions isn't ideally a great way to spend the morning, but Miller obliged the moment. 

Because that's part of being a Heisman-caliber senior quarterback. That's part of being a leader. 

"I think it’s the most unique position in all of sport," coach Urban Meyer said Monday. 

"An introverted player that doesn’t like to talk and all that, that’s fine. But you’ll never win a championship."

It's why Meyer and Ohio State's staff have worked tirelessly to morph Miller from a guy who throws the football into a field general throughout the last three years. 

If they want a shot at winning a Big Ten or national championship, they need Miller to be as sharp in the huddle as he is on the field. 

"You have to be a leader at that position," Meyer said. "And he’s really taken a hold of that." 

It starts with something as simple as Tuesday morning's media circus. 

At first, Miller didn't seem like he wanted to be there. Who can really blame him? 

But being a leader lends itself to certain responsibilities that don't care about what he wants or his quiet and reserved predisposition. Being the star of a major football team constantly in the national spotlight comes with nonnegotiable territory. 

In February, Miller said he came back to school to work on his leadership qualities and "learn the whole aspect of the game from the shoulders up." 

"Just make sure I know everything,” he said. 

That includes stuff on the field as much as it does off of it. 

"I see a seriousness approach to him that I've not seen," Meyer said.

"Last year he was pretty good, I don't want to act like he wasn't. But what's happened is you see a steady progression of a kid that was a starter since a freshman and he shouldn't have been.

"Because of that, he gets all the notoriety and everyone's asking him questions." 

They started getting easier to answer Tuesday morning. 


Comments Show All Comments

The Urban Legend's picture

Media day reminds me of the Friday Night Lights scene when the cop pulls up next to the car while they're eating. 

You boys all right? Yes sir

Gonna win state? Yes sir

Undefeated? Yes sir

Get it done 

The Legend continues

+5 HS
Oyster's picture

I think he has the leadership role covered already.  Three years under center will do that.  His health and durability is the biggest hurdle to a championship run IMO.

"Scrolling hurts my finger"

(and FitzBuck was clearly the winner)

+5 HS
NuttyBuckeye's picture

I whole-heartedly agree, Oyster!  In order for Ohio State to have any chance at playing in the National Playoff, Miller MUST LEARN NOT to pick up extra yards while scrambling.  It's okay if he does take off - sometimes this is the only option.  BUT - take what the defense is giving and DO NOT try to pick up extra yards - stay healthy and avoid any hits.

He must realize that we need his arm and head more than his legs.

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

b_pbucksfans's picture

Hate to be a ball buster but if Braxton doesn't scramble and get those extra yards, OSU has NO chance at a NC.

Oyster's picture

Pryor would scramble and get extra yards, but he also would skirt out of bounds and avoid the hits. That is what Braxton needs to start doing.  A first down is a first down.  A first down and avoiding a hit is even better!

"Scrolling hurts my finger"

(and FitzBuck was clearly the winner)

+3 HS
b_pbucksfans's picture

Pryor was also a straight line sprinter and had a wicked stiff arm to add to his 6'6" 240 lb. frame. Braxton is elusive and picks up half his yards after the 1st juke. I agree you tell Braxton to get out of bounds more but the coaches have to know with a young line that he will be running just as much. Add to that, Braxton is the most talented running back/quarterback on the roster, I tend to believe he runs more this year than last.

Oyster's picture

Please don't be offended by this, BUT I HOPE YOU ARE F$%&#ING WRONG ABOUT THE RUNNING!

"Scrolling hurts my finger"

(and FitzBuck was clearly the winner)

b_pbucksfans's picture

Definitely not offended Oyster, nothing wrong with having different opinions. I also hope I'm wrong on the running but Urban and Herman have shown who they trust the most (Michigan St.)

Buckeye Rocket Sci's picture

I truly can't wait to see how much of all this talk about his improvements comes true. Last year was good, but I'm expecting and hoping for true greatness this year! Better distribution, better decisions, staying healthy, and leading our great team to bringing home the trophy! That's not too much to ask, right?

"Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence" - Calvin Coolidge

Tater_Schroeder's picture

The three things I'm looking for: reading defenses and making adjustments at the line, dumping off to TE or RB instead of scrambling, and having touch on the short throws. 


+4 HS
NitroBuck's picture

Just.  Like.  That.

Ferio.  Tego.

+1 HS
lsjSnail's picture

Tajh Boyd tried something like that...failed miserably. 

+2 HS
jpbuckeye's picture

Thanks to Vonn Bell. What a moment that was. :-)

ibuck's picture

I'd like to see Braxton make a lot more plays like the one shown above. ↑

Our honor defend, so we'll fight to the end !

If you can't win your conference, just quietly accept your non-playoff bowl game.

+1 HS
Toilrt Paper's picture

Watch that play CLOSELY. The ONLY reason that play worked is the god awful fear that all 11 players on defense and all defensive coaches have of Braxton running/scrambling/making players miss and scoring touchdowns with his feet.

+1 HS
buckeyestu's picture

The defense must improve if the Buckeyes are to play for the National Title, I am not concerned with Brax and the offense.

GVerrilli92's picture

It's all connected.

And at the end of the day, the coaches are not on that field playing the game. A team is just better, on offense, on defense, special teams, at scratching their own nuts, whatever - when the QB is a born leader.

I got a gray kitty, white kitty, tabby too, and a little orange guy who puts snakes in my shoes. Got mad MC skills, that leave ya struck, and I roll with my kitties and I'm hard as f*ck.

+1 HS
Drew2006's picture

This is a no fail task. Braxton has too many weapons and he is already a weapon. CAN'T WAIT!!!!!!!!!

Love thy neighbor as yourself-Jesus

PasadenaBuckeye626's picture

Leadership isn't his problem. He led the team for three years.  The room for improvement is pocket passing (which he does better every year) and health  ("best shape of his life").  I'm optimistic

Go Bucks!

Toilrt Paper's picture

Leadership WAS a problem, listen to Urban. What I hear is he believes that his QB MUST be a leader on the practice field, in the meeting rooms, in the off season, in the huddle, on the field with his intellect and his words with the players. NOT just with his feet and arm., 

+1 HS