Braxton Miller Has Been In this Spot Before
By Brandon Castel
COLUMBUS, Ohio — If he didn’t realize it from the start, Braxton Miller learned rather quickly that his name would not earn him any extra advantage in Ohio State’s off-season quarterback battle.
Photo by Jim Davidson
Even with Terrelle Pryor sidelined by a foot injury, Miller found himself fourth on the depth chart when the Buckeyes opened spring camp last Thursday. He had moved up to No. 3 by Tuesday’s practice, but only because senior Joe Bauserman was attending class.
That might frustrate some young players, especially ones as highly-touted as Miller, but he has never been one to shy away from competition.
“I remember back in the day I was an eighth grader coming into high school,” said Miller, a freshman who enrolled at Ohio State in January.
“I had to compete and I got the job, so I’m just going to work hard and get in the film room.”
Miller wasn’t just another eighth grading moving up to the high school level. He transferred to Wayne, in Huber Heights, Ohio, from Springfield South after they hired his former basketball coach.
The Warriors already had an upperclassman quarterback returning from their playoff run the previous season, but Miller’s talent, even as a freshman in high school, was undeniable to coach Jay Minton.
“I’m usually conservative with our players,” Minton said at the time.
“But this kid is a phenom.”
Minton did not turn the offense over to Miller right away, but it wouldn’t be long.
Wayne fell behind in their season-opener against nationally-ranked Cincinnati Colerain in 2007, and Minton decided to give the 14-yeard old Miller a shot in the second half. Playing in his first high school game in the season-opener of his freshman year, Miller came off the bench and completed 10 of his 15 passes for 149 yards.
He did throw a pair of interceptions and the Warriors still lost the game, 19-7, but it was the beginning of something special for Miller, and for Wayne. Once Minton and the staff had seen his unlimited potential, there was no way they could put him back on the bench.
Miller would start the rest of the year, leading the Warriors to an 8-2 record as a freshman, while picking up his first scholarship offer from the University of Cincinnati.
“I just put in overtime work,” Miller said of how he was able to accomplish so much at such a young age.
“After practice I worked on my drills with the other receivers while everyone else was going in. That’s what I did.”
Braxton Miller and Terrelle Pryor
Photo by Jim Davidson
It certainly paid off, as Miller would start for all four of his years at Wayne, eventually leading the Warriors to within a drive of winning the Division I state championship his senior year.
When he enrolled at Ohio State in January, just a month after his loss to St. Edward in the title game, Miller immediately began to take the same approach with his new team. Living in the same dormitory as sophomore receiver Corey “Philly” Brown, Miller grabbed his new teammate and started working on plays long before the Buckeyes ever hit the practice field.
Under normal circumstances, Miller would be learning from a healthy Terrelle Pryor so that he can be prepared to take over next season after Pryor graduates. These are hardly normal circumstances around Columbus.
Miller watched from home as Ohio State self-reported violations that would lead to a five-game suspension for Pryor and four of his teammates to start the 2011 season.
“I looked at the TV like ‘dang that’s bad news right there,” Miller said.
It is also an opportunity. An opportunity to seize the moment; an opportunity to show the world what Braxton Miller is all about.
“He's going to get a shot like everyone else will this spring,” OSU quarterbacks coach Nic Siciliano said back in February.
“Because we don't have a guy cemented. He's got a special skill set that not everybody has.”
Unlike his situation at Wayne, Miller is competing with three other quarterbacks this spring for the chance to starting the season-opener against Akron in the fall. All of them have been at Ohio State significantly longer than Miller, especially fifth-year senior Joe Bauserman.
“That is awkward,” said Miller, who was still in high school just three months ago.
“They’re probably looking at it like there’s another dude on the team, we have to work harder to maintain our spot. I look at it as preparation. Do what you gotta do.”
That’s exactly the attitude that won Miller the starting job last time.
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