Braxton Miller's athletic ability isn't something Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer can afford to keep off the field.
With that in mind it looks like Ohio State's doing everything it can to keep the two-time Big Ten Player of the Year between the lines this fall, even if that requires a move to a new position.
As first reported by the astute Pete Thamel of Sports Illustrated on Thursday, the superstar coming off a pair of surgeries to his throwing shoulder plans to move to H-back and wide receiver for the Buckeyes.
“For the most part, it’s going to be H-Back and punt return,” Miller told Thamel Thursday night. “It’s a long process to get back totally to throwing and throwing every day. This is the smarter thing for right now, God blessed me with a lot of talent and different opportunities. I’m going to have fun with that and still score a lot of touchdowns and help the team out and be dominant at that.”
Miller, one of the most decorated players in Ohio State history, said he hasn't completely ruled out playing quarterback, however.
Thamel reports that Miller told him he would "spend 80 percent of the time during training camp at receiver and 20 percent with the quarterbacks."
Miller told the Columbus Dispatch he planned to fight for the starting quarterback job at Ohio State once fully healthy, while also reaffirming his allegiance to his home state and the Buckeyes.
"God put me on this earth ... to be an athlete, and the first thing in mind is being a quarterback, and just be smart about what I do," Miller told the Dispatch.
According to Thamel, however, Miller's mindset has changed in response to a desire to get on the field, no matter where he plays, something the Ohio State staff can't help but be giddy about.
"Braxton Miller can play wide receiver as long as he wants to play it,” Ohio State receivers coach Zach Smith told Thamel. “His speed, strength, talent, commitment and, really, lifestyle will allow him to be like Joey Galloway. It’s going to be a matter of how quickly he grows into the position, but the sky is the limit for him.”
Meyer spoke July 10 at a charity event in Sandusky, Ohio, benefiting the Ginn Foundation on both his mindset with for the quarterback battle and Ginn Academy's own Cardale Jones. He also noted how thrilled he was to have Miller returning for one more season in Columbus.
"I love Braxton Miller. People forget I think because of the success last year what he's meant to our program," Meyer said. "Am I excited to have Braxton Miller back? Extremely. Very, very talented guy and good teammate."
And a teammate who shared the love for his peers in the Ohio State quarterback room to let the best man win the starting job — at least until Thursday.
"I really believe the reason Braxton came back, Cardale came back and J.T. fights so hard, they love each other," Meyer said. "They don't have to say they're always best friends all together, but they've been through so much together they don't want to let anybody down."
Thamel also reports that Miller asked Meyer about a potential switch three months ago, but wanted to keep it quiet until his shoulder healed further. As far as the NFL Draft is concerned next year, Miller wants to be considered as an athlete.
“I want to be the best at what I do,” Miller said. “Don’t look back. Keep looking forward. I appreciate everyone who supported me and was there for me form when I had surgery until now. I’m ready to put on that Scarlet and Gray and make some highlights.”
“I’m ready to put on that Scarlet and Gray and make some highlights.”– Braxton Miller to SI
His past highlights speak for themselves, but No. 5 seems prepared to add a few more to an already extensive reel.
“It’s going to be electric,” Miller said. “We had a great season last year, but we didn’t see anyone do off-the-wall type stuff. I’m sure guys miss seeing an explosive, 60-yard shake-and-bake run every once in a while.”
An Ohio State spokesman did not immediately respond to request for comment Thursday.