Cody Cousino / Photo editor
Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer may be inheriting a new team, but it appears he has a building block in freshman quarterback Braxton Miller.
On Miller’s 19th birthday Wednesday, the OSU quarterback was named the Big Ten Conference’s Thompson-Randle El Freshman of the Year.
The award, which is presented to the conference’s most outstanding freshman, is named after Darrell Thompson who played running back for Minnesota in 1986 and Antwaan Randle El who played quarterback for Indiana from 1998-2001.
Miller threw for 997 yards, 11 touchdowns and four interceptions on the year, but also was effective on the ground. He was OSU’s leading rusher with 695 yards and seven touchdowns.
Barring any unforeseen setbacks, Miller figures to be the Buckeyes’ quarterback to begin the Meyer-era of OSU football.
“All due respect, everybody in this room,” Meyer said to the media at his introductory press conference Monday, “(Meeting Miller) was the highlight of my day, not this. Sitting there shaking hands with that good-looking quarterback with a nice smile and a very humble player.
“To tell you I’m excited to coach him, I’m not using the correct adjectives. And because there’s mixed company around I’m not going to use the correct adjectives, how excited I am.”
Meyer, known for running a spread offense that utilizes a quarterback who can both run and throw, has helped develop high-profile quarterbacks like Alex Smith, whom he coached at Utah, and Heisman Trophy winner Tim Tebow, whom he coached at Florida. Both quarterbacks are currently starting for NFL teams.
“We’ve been blessed to have some great quarterbacks,” Meyer said. “And I’m really thinking (Miller) can be — I’m putting a lot of pressure on this cat already — but he’s special. What I’ve seen on film he’s special.
“I think Braxton Miller is a difference-maker at quarterback. You can build a team around what I saw.”
ESPN college football analyst Todd McShay said that Meyer and Miller are a perfect fit.
“I think Urban would be a good fit anywhere,” McShay said before a speaking engagement at OSU. “But I think a place that has a good, athletic quarterback with the enormous talent like Braxton Miller has, I think that that would be a perfect fit … It would be a perfect fit for Miller and what he needs in a system.”
Miller is the seventh OSU player to win the Big Ten Conference’s freshman of the year award, joining the likes of Terrelle Pryor, Maurice Clarett and Orlando Pace. He will be presented with the award as part of the activities surrounding the Saturday’s Big Ten Championship Game between Wisconsin and Michigan State.
Miller led the Buckeyes to a 6-6 regular season record under interim coach Luke Fickell. He started the year as the backup, but took over the starting role from senior Joe Bauserman after the third game of the season and remained the Buckeye’s starter for the remaining nine games.
OSU is waiting to if it they will be invited to participate in a bowl game. Fickell will serve as the team’s head coach while Meyer will spend the time focusing on recruiting.