10 Things We Learned About Braxton Miller
By Brandon Castel
Photo by Jim Davidson
On Thursday Braxton Miller brought delight to Ohio State fans everywhere by selecting the Buckeyes over offers from Florida, Alabama, Georgia, Notre Dame and over 30 other schools. Considered one of the top two quarterbacks in the country by nearly every talent evaluator, Miller gives the Buckeyes a bright future under center after Terrelle Pryor.
There wasn't nearly as much hype and hoopla surrounding Miller's commitment, but there was still plenty to be learned from his press conference at Huber Heights Wayne High School where he enters his fourth season as the starting quarterback.
1. His final three were Ohio State, Florida and Notre Dame. When Braxton Miller sat down at the table for his official announcement ceremony Thursday there were five hats in front of him. It was a fairly typical move for a high-profile high school player of this caliber. Three belonged to the SEC: Alabama, Florida and Georgia, with the other two belonging to Ohio State and Notre Dame. The home-state Buckeyes had long been considered the favorites to land the star quarterback, but who else was in the running?
"Florida was in the running. And Notre Dame," Miller said.
"Florida came in a little bit late, going into my senior season. It was not that tough. They had me under pressure, but I pulled it out to be an Ohio State Buckeye."
Wonder what kind of pressure they had him under.
2. Miller was always going to be a Buckeye. Despite that pressure from Urban Meyer and the Gators, Florida finished a distant, distant second to Jim Tressel and the Buckeyes. Tressel offered Miller during his sophomore year at Wayne, and Ohio State has been hot after him ever since. They made it clear he was their guy and Miller admits he felt all along as though Ohio State was his team.
"It just reminded me of my hometown. And it all fits my comfort and I'd just like to be there and be a part of that team. I liked them a lot," he said.
"I just wanted to get it out of the way and get it off my chest and get the pressure out of the way. The recruiting process was really nice, but I just wanted to settle down and be committed to my school."
3. Troy Smith had a lot to do with that. Because he's a dual-threat quarterback and one of the top-rated prospects in the country out of high school, Miller is already drawing comparisons to Ohio State's current signal caller Terrelle Pryor. Both are big, fast, strong-armed quarterbacks, but it's another Buckeye quarterback who first drew Miller's attention for his dual-threat ability.
"I just watched Troy Smith, because what they did with him I really liked," the 6-foot-3 Miller said.
After starting his career as a run-first quarterback, Smith developed into one of the most deadly accurate passers in the country as a senior. He won the Heisman Trophy that season while guiding the Buckeyes to the BCS National Championship game, and Miller sees himself more in that pass first, run second mold.
"My arm has got strength and I can do damage with that, and also my legs. I can do a lot of damage, so we'll see when I get there," said Miller, who appears to be further along as a passer than Pryor was heading into his senior season at Jeannette.
Braxton Miller shows off his new tattoo.
Photo by Jim Davidson
4. So did Terrelle Pryor. For those wondering if Pryor has progressed enough in his first two seasons at Ohio State, look no further than Braxton Miller. Both he and his coach have seen enough growth out of Pryor, especially his performance in the Rose Bowl, to believe that coach Tressel and quarterbacks coach Nick Siciliano are capable of developing him into an elite-level quarterback.
"They won't put their guys in a bad position," Wayne Head Coach Jay Minton said.
"They allow them to develop and they teach them along the way. They build a great foundation for them and I think they really, truly get them ready for the next level."
5. Braxton is Tressel's kind of recruit. Apologies to all of the old schoolers out there who still can't understand what would possess a 17 year old kid to bring five hats to the podium before selecting the one that represents his college choice, but Braxton Miller is exactly what Jim Tressel looks for in a recruit. If being around the program all the time wasn't enough to show his passion for the university, Miller put his passion for being a Buckeye on display Thursday by rolling up his left sleeve to reveal a freshly added Block O tattoo on his left shoulder.
Along with his passion for Ohio State, Miller unintentionally put his character on display Thursday as well. The Buckeyes made it very clear that he was their guy at the quarterback position in this class, and refused to even extend another offer to a quarterback until it became clear Miller might take his services elsewhere. With that kind of power, Miller could have dragged this thing out for months. He could have conjured up the kind of drama that captures national headlines, especially with an offer list like his. He could have played the game a lot longer, holding out for a triumphant announcement at the U.S. Army All-American game in January, or even National Signing Day in February. Instead, he respected the OSU coaching staff enough to make his public announcement eight months before the unofficial deadline.
6. There's no going back from here. Some might wonder if such an early commitment might leave the door open for coaches like Urban Meyer, Brian Kelly and Nick Saban to come knocking on Miller's door. If his Block O tattoo isn't enough proof that those kinds of attempts would be futile, his high school coach made it clear that Miller won't be reconsidering his commitment or taking any more visits.
"That's one of our rules here," Minton said.
"We don't tell them where to go, but we do ask that when they commit, they've done all of their homework."
7. He wants to play early. While Miller has been an Ohio State lean for quite some time, a big factor in his college choice was the ability to play early in his career. He is obviously aware that Terrelle Pryor has two remaining years of eligibility, but Miller is accustomed to forcing his way on to the field early in his career.
As a true freshman at Wayne High School, Miller joined a team that already had a returning junior as the starting quarterback. They tried him at wide receiver and safety, but it wasn't long before coach Minton realized what he had in Miller was something special.
"I'm going to come in and just do what I can do, and if I do get a chance to play, I'm going to show out just like I did as a freshman here," said Miller, who plans to graduate early and enroll at Ohio State in January.
8. He wants to be great. It might sound boastful of Miller to think he can come in and earn some playing time with Pryor still on the roster, but that's simply a sign of how great he wants to be.
"There's an old saying that goes, 'Good is evil being great', and he wants to be great, so he can't let good get in the way," Minton said of his senior quarterback.
9. He wants to be a passer. We mentioned earlier how Miller wants to emulate Troy Smith with his game, and his coach echoed those sentiments on announcement day.
"That's the thing that he wants to transition into, where people look at him as a quarterback and not so much as an 'athletic guy', because that doesn't get you anywhere in his future," Minton said hinting at Miller's aspirations to play quarterback at the NFL level.
"He really wants to be at quarterback and be able to distribute the ball and everything, and do what he can to run an offense."
10. The Buckeyes are done at QB for 2011. The Buckeyes may end up adding Glenville's Cardale Jones to this recruiting class, but if they do it won't be as a quarterback. While Miller certainly doesn't appear to be scared of competition, one big reason he decided to pull the trigger on his announcement so early was Ohio State's commitment to making him their one quarterback in the class of 2011. At 6-foot-5, Jones is an interesting prospect at a number of possible positions, but he would have to come in realizing he may never get a shot to line up under center at Ohio State. That's going to be a tough sell considering he holds offers from Penn State, Michigan, Iowa, Illinois and West Virginia to play the quarterback position.
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