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. 

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