What Are Urban Meyer's Questions For Braxton Miller at His New Position?

By Tim Shoemaker on August 7, 2015 at 1:05 pm

Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer perhaps knows better than anyone the type of athlete he has in Braxton Miller. He's watched, firsthand from the sideline, Miller tear up opposing defenses for years at the quarterback position with his quickness, speed and incredible vision. 

But even after three years with Miller, there's still one thing Meyer doesn't know. There's still one mystery that remains. Can Miller, one of the most dynamic athletes in all of college football, play wide receiver?

"I know what I saw as far as athleticism, but it's the same thing you all saw as an athlete, so I see a great athlete," Meyer said of Miller last week at Big Ten Media Days. "But what actually he can do, we'll start, I think, a week from Sunday, so we'll know more." 

The plan for the 2015 season is for Miller to play the wide receiver/H-back role. Miller himself announced his intentions to switch positions in an exclusive interview with Sports Illustrated's Pete Thamel. Meyer called it a bit premature, at the time, but said "I think Braxton will play receiver" at Big Ten Media Days.

As a result, the Buckeyes' often-discussed quarterback battle is now down to J.T. Barrett and Cardale Jones. The move makes things much easier on Meyer as it will be easier for the coach to decide between two guys as opposed to three. And it also allows the Buckeyes to additionally get one of their best athletes on the field in dangerous positions with the ball in his hands.

But Meyer still has questions about Miller's switch. For starters, he says he's never seen him catch a pass.

"Feedback I'm getting from guys like J.T. and Cardale is that he's very athletic obviously and he can catch the ball," Meyer said. "I've not seen him do that. I'm anxious to see him do that." 

Odds are Meyer actually has seen Miller catch passes, at least in some capacity. Meyer said Miller came to him about a month and a half ago to discuss the position switch, so it's hard to envision that much time has elapsed without the head coach at least getting a glimpse of what's to come.

But what Meyer probably hasn't seen, what he still needs to see, is Miller go up against live competition, go up against a defensive back in press coverage.

“If you say go out and run routes, I’ve seen him do that and it’s a ‘Wow,’" Meyer said. But how does he deal with a very good player on top of him? That’s the ins and outs of playing the position and you can’t do much of that in the summer. He’s gone out and worked with Vonn Bell a little bit but we’re gonna do that Day 1. But it’s how he handles a guy in his face.”

A former wide receivers coach, Meyer said he plans to personally work with Miller on Day 1 of training camp, which begins Aug. 10. The transition will be difficult, for sure, but Meyer has full confidence Miller can make an immediate impact at his new spot.

"For the average guy, I'd say would be very uncommon to be at least right out the gate," Meyer said of Miller's switch being effective immediately. "He's not common, though. He's one of the best athletes I've ever coached. He's got an incredible first step. Above all else, you say it's time to win or lose time, and he's not going to lose.

"My expectation is he's an impact player." 

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