Skepticism and doubt surrounded Braxton Miller when he announced in late July via an interview with Sports Illustrated that he’d be transitioning from his original position of quarterback to H-back this upcoming season.
On a roster brimming with talent, especially on offense, many wondered just how much of the field the redshirt senior would see in what will be his final season at Ohio State. On top of taking on the challenges of learning a whole new position, Miller would have to leapfrog a multitude of skilled players.
Regardless of his incredible playmaking ability, it looked like it’d be an uphill climb for the two-time Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year.
That is, until OSU coach Urban Meyer announced that redshirt sophomore Jalin Marshall and junior Dontre Wilson, as well as wide receiver Corey Smith, would be suspended for the Buckeyes’ season opener at Virginia Tech. Junior star defensive end Joey Bosa was also amongst those suspended.
Outside of Bosa, all were projected to be key components in OSU’s spread offense. Marshall and Wilson are hybrid type players, and each play the role of H-back. Smith, entering his redshirt senior season, enjoyed a great spring and had firmly cemented his status as the No. 2 wideout in rotation.
So, through unfortunate circumstances, a rare opportunity has been presented to Miller. With the highly anticipated “revenge game” fast approaching, he’s in line to receive significant minutes.
Thus far, his move to H-back has gone pretty seamlessly and has fans eager to see what he’ll bring to the table. Miller is still capable of breaking any game wide open as his athletic ability has been all too apparent in practices, something senior linebacker Joshua Perry has become pretty familiar with.
“Don’t blink, he’s got some of the crispest, most ridiculous moves,” Perry said at the Big Ten Media Days in Chicago on July 30. “His footwork is amazing, he’s really fluid, and his speed is obvious.”
Meyer, a former wide receiver coach, remains skeptical and is Miller’s biggest critic, going so far as to say that it’d be “uncommon” to throw the ex-quarterback straight into the fire so early in the season. Admittedly so, the three-time national champion coach can’t deny the kind of difference-maker that sits ready in his stable.
“He’s one of the best athletes I’ve ever coached,” Meyer said on July 30. “He’s got an incredible first step. Above all else, you say it’s time to win or lose, and he’s not going to lose.”
The expectation is that Miller will be a true “impact player” on offense. Considering the suspensions that have been handed out, plan on seeing a fairly heavy dosage of him in the Buckeyes’ Sept. 7 showdown in Blacksburg, Va.
Only versatile sophomore, and current backup running back, Curtis Samuel stands in Miller’s way at H-back. Time will tell, though, as to who exactly will get the majority of the work at the hybrid position.
How Miller comes along in terms of the continued development of his route running is something worth keeping a close eye on. At any rate, Meyer will undoubtedly find it tough to make a case for not adequately providing OSU’s in-state product with substantial playing time come Week One.