Let's Not Forget How Good Braxton Miller Can Be

By Michael Citro on April 25, 2015 at 9:15 am
Braxton Miller is good at football.
Remember Braxton's stutter step? Let's see more of that.

Any coach would love to have a returning senior quarterback who had started for three seasons. It would be a major bonus if that quarterback had spent three years rewriting your school’s record books, winning two conference player-of-the-year awards, making himself a Heisman Trophy frontrunner and had already led your team to an undefeated season.

And yet, there is a sizable portion of the Ohio State fan base that would have Urban Meyer opt not to let Braxton Miller start for the Buckeyes in 2015.

Yes, he of the two (so far) Silver Football trophies and two Griese-Brees Quarterback of the Year awards.

It’s a crazy phenomenon, if you think about it. When we last saw Miller, he was passing for more than 2,000 yards and rushing for more than 1,000 yards in 2013. Despite missing a couple of games, Braxton accounted for 36 touchdowns (24 rushing, 12 passing).

For his career, the Huber Heights product has passed for 5,292 yards, 52 touchdowns and just 17 interceptions. He has rushed for 3,052 yards and 32 more scores. He is the school’s third most efficient passer ever. That is insane production. And yet, people are ready for Meyer to make a move to the bullpen.

Such is life when a redshirt freshman steps onto the field and erases some of your school records and then a third-string quarterback leads the team to its three biggest wins since the 2003 Fiesta Bowl.

Some believe that Miller isn’t as accurate a passer as Barrett or Jones. Miller’s last season saw him complete 63.5% of his passes on a team with a wide receiver corps that did not perform anywhere near the level that last year’s group did.

J.T. Barrett completed 64.6% of his throws last year for a humongous 1.1% advantage over Miller’s previous season. Cardale Jones completed 60.9%, although some of that was to backup receivers in the second half of blowout games. And Miller’s completion percentage and passer rating has risen each season. He’s also been sacked fewer times each subsequent year at the helm.

This looks pretty OK to me.

Some say his deep ball isn’t as accurate, yet the majority of Devin Smith’s career touchdown receptions were thrown by No. 5, so it seems like he’s done OK in that department.

There’s no way to know what Miller’s development would have looked like a year ago had he not sustained a major injury to his throwing shoulder, much like there isn’t any way at this point to know how his body will respond to the surgery.

However, if Miller can throw and run as he has before — and we’ve already seen he can run, as he may have been robbed in the fastest student race at the Spring Game — there’s no reason not to have him start his final year. Again, this is assuming he can throw like before and get into rhythm with his receivers before the first game.

“But he won’t play quarterback in the NFL,” some say. That’s as may be, but if Miller wants to play quarterback, there’s no reason not to play him there. And if Jake Locker could play quarterback in the NFL, you’ll never convince me that Miller can’t.

Braxton has a chance to close one of the most storied careers any Buckeye quarterback has ever had and many people would rather play him at H-back or wide receiver—two positions where he’d have to do a considerable amount of catching up to quality starters already in place. He might be spectacular in either spot, or he might struggle as Denard Robinson did in his non-quarterback role with the Wolverines.

If his shoulder is sound and he earns the spot on the field, I’m OK with the veteran returning Heisman candidate at the helm.

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