Buckeyes QB is steady as it goes

  • Article by: JOE CHRISTENSEN , Star Tribune
  • Updated: August 27, 2013 - 7:57 AM

An improving and calm Braxton Miller has Ohio State poised for big things in 2013.


Quarterback Braxton Miller led Ohio State to an undefeated season in 2012, and now the Buckeyes are eligible to play in a bowl again.

Photo: Jay LaPrete, Associated Press

CameraStar Tribune photo galleries

Cameraview larger

he Big Ten’s reigning offensive player of the year couldn’t stop yawning.

Ohio State quarterback Braxton Miller wasn’t trying to be rude. The questions focused on his Heisman Trophy candidacy and Ohio State’s national championship aspirations, and he gave some thoughtful answers.

But the multitalented junior yawned as if this whole late-July morning was going in slow motion.

“I’m hungry,” Miller said, smiling. “I missed breakfast.”

For all the hype being bestowed on Ohio State after last year’s 12-0, bowl-ineligible season, the Buckeyes' highly decorated leader doesn’t seem overly amped. That’s not his style.

“I think Braxton’s best quality is his humility,” Buckeyes offensive tackle Jack Mewhort said. “He doesn’t let things go to his head. He was brought up the right way. … He doesn’t have that superstar mentality.”

Maybe that’s because Miller knows that for all his success, he still has a long way to go. He set an Ohio State record for total offense last year, with 2,039 yards passing and 1,271 rushing.

But Miller also completed only 58.3 percent of his passes. Last month, when NFL Network draft analyst Daniel Jeremiah released his list of top 50 NFL prospects, Miller ranked 12th among college quarterbacks.

The quarterbacks atop that list were Louisville’s Teddy Bridgewater, UCLA’s Brett Hundley, Clemson’s Tajh Boyd, Texas A&M’s Johnny Manziel and Alabama’s AJ McCarron. There were six more ahead of Miller, who finished fifth in the Heisman voting last year. The reasoning: Miller, for now, lacks the necessary downfield accuracy.

Miller pushed himself to improve over the offseason. Without a bowl game for which to prepare, he spent Christmas break in San Diego, getting specialized instruction from George Whitfield Jr., who has tutored such quarterbacks as Manziel, Cam Newton and Andrew Luck.

“My fundamentals got a lot better,” Miller said.

Challenges ahead

The rest of Ohio State’s offense struggled early last season, and coach Urban Meyer wondered aloud where his team would have been without Miller. Eventually, running back Carlos Hyde, wide receiver Corey Brown and others picked up their performance.

All the returnees should be more comfortable this year, in their second season under Meyer. His second-year success at previous schools speaks for itself — 9-3 at Bowling Green, 12-0 at Utah, 13-1 at Florida.

With Buckeyes fans clamoring for their first national title since 2002, Ohio State went back in the news for the wrong reasons in July, as Hyde (three games) and standout cornerback Bradley Roby (one game) were both suspended from the team for incidents at bars.

Are the Buckeyes focused enough for the challenges that lie ahead? The biggest nonconference hurdles will be games against San Diego State and at California. Wisconsin comes to Columbus for the Big Ten opener Sept. 28, a game that could end up determining the Leaders Division title.

Another test comes Oct. 5 at Northwestern, and Ohio State closes the regular season at Michigan on Nov. 30. Of course, there’s a chance Ohio State and Michigan could meet again one week later in Indianapolis in the Big Ten Championship Game.

Miller said all that talk is nice, but for now, the team doesn’t want to look past Saturday’s opener against Buffalo. Meyer has been in the quarterback’s ear, keeping him focused on the process, not results.

“He knows what it takes, how prepared you have to be to be on the next level,” Miller said. “He always tells me I’m almost there. I’m close, but he tells me the little things that I have to work on to get myself to that point.”

Path leads to Ohio State

Meyer recruited Miller when he was coaching at Florida. A standout at Wayne (Ohio) High School, Miller committed to play for Jim Tressel at Ohio State at the end of his junior year.

Tressel resigned after Ohio State was hit with NCAA sanctions, but interim coach Luke Fickell still turned over the offense to Miller as a true freshman in 2011, as the Buckeyes went 6-7. Then Meyer arrived in Columbus, where he got the chance to work with Miller after all.

“I relied on my instinct and went to Ohio State, and now he’s here with me,” Miller said. “So it worked out real good.”

Meyer has called Miller one of the greatest athletes he’s ever seen. Miller has run the 40-yard dash in 4.36 seconds — comparable to NFL wide receivers — and has bench pressed 385 pounds.

“I go back to Percy Harvin,” said Meyer, who coached Harvin at Florida. “I say he has the best first step I’ve ever seen, and Braxton is in that category.”

Meyer added, “He’s done some things even in practice where you just shake your head.”

But it’s not only Miller’s video game talent that resonates with teammates.

“A lot of guys look up to him,” Mewhort said. “He does a great job of permeating his humility through the team. So I appreciate that, and I know a lot of guys do.

“He does such a good job of keeping that superstar thing under wraps that when you’re playing with him, it’s almost like he doesn’t get how good he is.”



  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions


New England 2/1/15 5:30 PM
Minnesota 94 FINAL
Philadelphia 103
Houston 93 FINAL
Boston 87
Portland 99 FINAL
Atlanta 105
Sacramento 90 FINAL
Cleveland 101
Toronto 127 FINAL
Brooklyn 122
Dallas 93 FINAL
Miami 72
LA Clippers 103 FINAL
New Orleans 108
Golden State 100 FINAL
Utah 110
Chicago 93 FINAL
Phoenix 99
Pittsburgh 2 FINAL(OT)
New Jersey 1
St. Louis 3 FINAL(SO)
Carolina 2
Nashville 0 FINAL
Colorado 3
Buffalo 2 FINAL
Vancouver 5
Chicago 4 FINAL
Anaheim 1
Harvard 75 FINAL
Princeton 72
Quinnipiac 57 FINAL
Canisius 63
Brown 49 FINAL
Cornell 57
Siena 79 FINAL
Manhattan 87
Marist 65 FINAL
Niagara 61
Dartmouth 51 FINAL
Penn 58
Oregon 68 FINAL
Arizona State 67
Yale 63 FINAL
Columbia 59
Monmouth 60 FINAL
Fairfield 59
Western Ill 63
Oregon State 34 FINAL
Arizona 57
Kent State 55 FINAL
Buffalo 80
Canisius 75 FINAL
Monmouth 58
Butler 67 FINAL
Providence 59
Cornell 65 FINAL
Brown 52
Columbia 47 FINAL
Yale 55
Coll of Charleston 47 FINAL
Drexel 64
Penn 55 FINAL
Dartmouth 39
Elon 60 FINAL
James Madison 89
(19) Princeton 96 FINAL
Harvard 46
(9) Florida State 82 FINAL
Georgia Tech 62
Quinnipiac 87 FINAL
Siena 62
Richmond 54 FINAL
Rhode Island 50
Loyola-Chicago 58 FINAL
Southern Ill 64
Georgetown 52 FINAL
DePaul 93
Villanova 75 FINAL
Marquette 59
Wichita State 70 FINAL
Northern Iowa 51
Xavier 65 FINAL
Creighton 74
Bradley 58 FINAL
Illinois State 55
Missouri State 89 FINAL
Drake 94
Arizona 48 FINAL
Utah 62
(11) Arizona State 68 FINAL
Colorado 60
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters





question of the day

Poll: Which of these teams is the most frustrating to watch right now?

Weekly Question