Amid the constant speculation swirling the Ohio State quarterback position, the name that carries the most intrigue is the one who led the Buckeyes to 24 consecutive wins: Braxton Miller.
As Miller slugs through the recovery process from his second shoulder surgery in six months to repair a torn labrum, rumors are percolating on where he'll play his final year of college football.
With Big Ten Freshman of the Year J.T. Barrett and the guy who started for the Buckeyes in the postseason, Cardale Jones, both back, many believe Miller could leave Columbus to assure he's got a starting job elsewhere.
Miller's high school coach, though, doesn't expect that to happen.
"I have no reason to believe that he is leaving," Jay Minton, who also serves as the athletic director at Wayne High School, told Eleven Warriors on Tuesday. "Why would he? I know his heart's there."
Minton's led the Warriors to the state title game three times since 1999, including last season's 31-21 loss to Lakewood St. Edward at Ohio Stadium. He's known Miller longer than most, so his opinion carries some gumption.
Miller hasn't spoken to the media since the day his re-injured his already surgically repaired right shoulder, Aug. 18. He's had the option multiple times both during his team's run at the first-ever College Football Playoff National Championship in January and again during spring practice, but declined.
Minton, though, said not to take that as a slight — it's just how his former star player operates.
"Very private young man. We used to have to kind of jog him off the field in games in high school because there would be, shoot, 15, 20, 25 people standing there with helmets and Buckeye stuff after he committed," Minton said, with a large photo of Miller gazing down on him on the wall inside his office. "His senior year, wanting him to sign and stuff, we'd have to run him into the locker room. It's kind of insane in high school but he's a pretty private guy — he doesn't let a lot out."
All signs point to Miller returning to Ohio State for his redshirt senior season, but because he graduated in December he can transfer and be eligible to play immediately if he so chooses.
"I have no reason to believe that he is leaving. Why would he? I know his heart's there."– Jay Minton, high school coach of Braxton Miller
But even though it's approaching nine months since he gave an interview, Miller's had plenty of people vouch for him and say he's set to remain a Buckeye.
"There are a lot of things that go on out there that are out of his control,” Meyer said Dec. 31 during Sugar Bowl week. “So, we've had conversations and I expect him to be back at Ohio State.”
"I'm not Braxton, but being that I do talk to him every day, I think that would be something me and you both be shocked if he was to leave. I think it's ridiculous honestly," Barrett said March 12. "Some of the things talking about Braxton leaving Ohio State, I think that's really silly."
Miller's put a lot into Ohio State's success since Meyer took over prior to the 2012 season, another reason Minton can't see the quarterback electing to leave gaining much traction.
"He's got a Buckeye (tattoo) right there," Minton said, pointing to the shoulder area above his left bicep. "He's got that big Block O there. And how's he going to go play for Georgia or Alabama or something like that? You know what I mean? I guess he could, but I just see him getting healthy, see him competing for the job and knowing he has to be his best and compete."
Minton, who added he was supposed to visit with Miller on Friday before the plans fell through, said he's fielded phone calls from coaches trying to get a scoop about what's going on in Miller's head. He did not name which ones specifically have reached out to him, however.
"I don't think he's going to (leave) until he calls me and tells me he's going to," Minton said. "That's what I try to tell (other coaches)."
It's a question worth asking considering the success of not only Barrett but Jones last season in place of the two-time Big Ten Player of the Year, but considering Miller's not quite nine months removed from surgery Minton doesn't think it makes sense for him to leave.
If he's healthy, though, Minton thinks Miller will win the starting job.
"It'll be interesting to see. I gotta say, my money's on Braxton Miller if he's healthy, if he's 100 percent healthy," Minton said. "That kid is just special, he's a competitor and he even gets better with competition."
He added: "It's a good situation to have up there (three worthy options at quarterback). No matter what happens, Urban Meyer will have him on the field."