MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. — Visibly exhausted, battered and bruised, Ohio State junior quarterback Braxton Miller stood covered in grass stains in front of his locker at Sun Life Stadium with a forlorn look on his face. He and his team had just come up short against No. 12 Clemson in the 2014 Discover Orange Bowl, falling to the Tigers (11-2, 7-1) 40-35.
After the loss, Miller said he planned to discuss with coach Urban Meyer and strength coach Mickey Marotti about whether he would forgo his senior season and enter the 2014 NFL Draft.
“(I have to) just think it out throughout the whole process and how it will go,” Miller said after the loss about his upcoming decision. “I don’t want to make no decision I really didn’t do my research on.”
It looks as if the Buckeye signal caller will come back for one more year, though, according to reports by both ESPN and SI.com. No official announcement has been made by OSU. An OSU spokesman had no information about Miller’s decision when asked.
Miller was sacked five times in potentially his last game as a Buckeye, taking plenty of hits and scrambling for control as he tried to rally OSU (12-2, 8-1) to its first postseason win in four years. The first sack of the game did the most damage, Miller said, injuring his shoulder.
“On the first sack they had against me, I injured my shoulder. I know I landed on my elbow, but it shot right up to my shoulder, and it was hurting real bad,” Miller said.
Miller said the injury nagged him all game and his pain level was “about like a nine and a half” on a scale of one to 10, but the last thing he wanted to do was come out.
“You fight through it, because you’re a competitor,” said Miller, who did come out for a two-point conversion play after finding senior running back Carlos Hyde for a 14-yard touchdown that gave OSU the lead in the fourth quarter, 35-34.
Meyer said he asked Miller if he could go after injuring the shoulder, getting a brief response from the junior: “I’m fine.”
“He’s a soldier,” Meyer said during a postgame press conference. “I think on the two-point play he had to come out, but he said he was ready to go.”
Miller’s toughness did not go unnoticed by his opponent either.
“You tip your hat to a guy like (Miller),” Clemson redshirt-sophomore linebacker Kellen Jones said after the game. “You have to anticipate his move before he makes it, because before you know it, he’s out of there … He’s a great talent and it was great going up against him.”
The Buckeye signal caller finished with 234 yards passing, completing 16 of 24 passes for two touchdowns, and running for two more scores. The second of his two interceptions all but sealed the win for the Tigers, though, as he was picked off by junior linebacker Stephone Anthony while trying to hit senior wide receiver Corey “Philly” Brown over the middle with less than 90 seconds left.
“I didn’t see (Anthony). It was good coverage, I’ll give him props,” Miller said about the interception. “That’s why he’s on the field too, he got a scholarship as well. He made a good play on the ball and I thought I had a man wide open, and he jumped right in front of it.
“I thought I had Philly on a bender, and it was my mistake,” Miller said. “I’m not going to complain about anything, I’ve just gotta fix it.”
It appears that Miller is planning to fix those mistakes in Columbus as he prepares for his senior season, despite alluding to the possibility of leaving early over the past month.
“Oh, yeah. Of course. Definitely,” Miller said Dec. 18 when asked if he felt like his skills translated to the professional ranks. “Just like I came from high school. Coaches going to get you prepared, get you mentally ready for everything that you need to get ready for. It’s another step in life.”
If he does stay, Miller knows one man will play a huge part in getting ready for the next stage of his life.
“I’ve got to think hard about it. I will talk to coach Meyer and see what he thinks,” Miller said. “He’s been through the process many times, so that’s the guy to go to. He never steers you wrong and ever since I got here, he took me under his wing and taught me a lot of things.”