Harry Miller Getting Into Rhythm on Ohio State's Offensive Line While Pursuing Variety of Interests Off the Field

By Dan Hope on November 6, 2020 at 10:50 am
Harry Miller

Harry Miller is a starting offensive lineman at Ohio State, and in a few years from now, he’ll likely be playing in the NFL. A five-star recruit out of high school, Miller has proved to be a quick study in Columbus, already establishing himself as the Buckeyes’ new left guard as a true sophomore, all the while he’s likely to be their center of the future.

On the field, Miller is making an early impression. Ohio State offensive coordinator Kevin Wilson said he thought Miller was the Buckeyes’ most improved offensive player between the season opener against Nebraska and their second game against Penn State. Head coach Ryan Day is also encouraged by what he’s seen from Miller between his first two starts.

“I’m just happy that he’s been able to find a rhythm,” Day said Thursday. “Especially in last week’s game, I thought he played strong, played well and so that really built up his confidence. And hopefully, now he can really take off and have a great season.”

Miller’s goals for his life, though, go well beyond what he has the potential to accomplish on the football field. And he doesn’t want to be defined simply by what he accomplishes as an athlete.

That much was clear this offseason, particularly while the team was away from campus due to the COVID-19 pandemic, when Miller became a bit of a social media sensation as he posted various videos of himself performing music, sometimes even accompanied by costumes and creative video editing.

Miller’s decision to begin sharing his musical talents on social media was primarily for entertainment.

“Social media, though it can be sort of a bane toward sincerity and a bane toward authenticity, I wanted to use it as a very natural sort of platform and a natural sort of town square,” Miller said this week. “I can’t really go out and bust on a street corner for pennies and dimes, but I can kind of go on Twitter and screw around, and some people like it. So it was really fun. I was really happy to do it, and I was glad that people liked it, too.”

Now that the football season has started, he hasn’t posted any new music videos in a while, but he hasn’t stopped spending time on some of his other passions, like reading books. For example, when the football team had a mandated off day on Tuesday for Election Day, Miller spent the day reading the Bhagavad Gita, an ancient text of Hinduism.

Miller said Tuesday that he wants to start a book club with other members of the football team – acknowledging that he isn’t able to talk to many of his teammates about his readings. He also hopes to start an organization to help children get access to books.

His own aspirations of success on the football field, in the classroom and in other walks of life have been inspired by the books he’s read since he was a child.

“My mother did a great job of raising me. My dad did a great job of getting me into music. And then I had such fantastic teachers to get me into literature,” Miller said. “And so that kind of molds all these things, but I spent my childhood reading about great thinkers and great men, and it sort of I think becomes exponential when you read about musketeers and you read about great men, 19-year-olds who fought in France and fought in England, and then you read about Jim Hawkins going to Treasure Island and you read about Ishmael and Captain Ahab looking for Moby Dick and you read things about great men who are well-versed in the world and know many things and you become sort of jealous.

“I’ve done a little bit of traveling, but I haven’t sailed and gone whale hunting and I haven’t been a musketeer in France, but books make you hold the company of great men and great thinkers, and you have very intimate conversations with the greatest thinkers of human history, and it sort of warrants you to check yourself and to improve yourself and it kind of just makes you very hungry and very anxious to learn more things. Because you read the feats and you read the words of great thinkers, and you think, ‘What have I done?’ It makes you want to be able to share such company as them.”

Since 2014, Miller has been part of an annual mission trip to Nicaragua, which Ohio State linebacker Tommy Eichenberg joined him in last year. Eventually, Miller’s long-term goals include owning a bookstore and sailing across the Atlantic Ocean. More immediately, Miller seems to be a prime candidate to have opportunities to profit from his name, image and likeness when the NCAA finally allows that next year, considering his variety of interests and his emerging personality.

“I hope I can get sponsored by Half Price Books or something like that, that’d be nice,” Miller said.

Naturally, one might question whether having so many interests away from the football field would distract Miller from his football or academics. But Miller became one of the best offensive linemen in the country while earning valedictorian honors and pursuing his off-field interests at Buford High School, and he’s continued to perform well both on the field and in the classroom at Ohio State, so Day has no concerns about Miller not being as focused as he needs to be.

“He’s a guy who, even from when we recruited him in high school, he had a lot of different interests and passions and he can kind of handle that, he can multitask,” Day said. “Some guys, they really need to stay focused on academics and football, but Harry’s a guy who has a lot of different interests. So it’s been great. It’s something that we certainly support. He has his mission trips that he does down in Nicaragua in the offseason. He’s kind of a man of many talents and interests.”

Miller had some struggles in Ohio State’s season opener against Nebraska, but he bounced back strong against Penn State, helping lead the Buckeyes to 526 total yards of offense while earning champion honors for the first time in his career. And now that he’s got two full games under his belt, he’s feeling confident – in part because he’s realized that he needs to think less on the field than he does off it – about his ability to continue excelling for the rest of the year.

“I was talking with Coach Wilson after the game, and he was asking how I thought I played, and I said, ‘Really, playing against Penn State, it was kind of like the first time I felt like I was playing football rather than doing assignments or thinking too much,’” Miller said. “I felt like I was playing football, and that lets you loosen up and make plays. 

“For me, sometimes, it’s easy to get in your head and it’s easy to lose yourself in situations, scenarios, predictions, estimations instead of just playing football. And when it comes down to it, football just comes down to hit a guy, try not to get hit too hard yourself and keep your composure, and don’t complicate it too much. Just play ball. And so I think that was kind of it, and again, learning behind the line we had last year and with the guys we have this year, they kind of gave me the foundation to be able to just play football and not overcomplicate it.”

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