On day four of Ohio State’s fall camp, a group comprised mostly of freshmen offensive linemen were off practicing on their own.
Twenty yards away, the first and second-team offensive lines were working together. Among them was true freshman center Harry Miller.
Miller certainly came to Ohio State with premier recruiting accolades as a 5-star prospect and one of the nation’s top high school centers, but he only arrived in June, which usually means August is a Scarlet and Gray blur.
But Harry Miller is not a typical freshman offensive lineman.
Even though he wasn’t at Ohio State in the winter or the spring, he prepared like he was. He telecommuted to position meetings. He watched film. He talked with OSU offensive line coach Greg Studrawa on a regular basis.
Miller prepared with a purpose and it has already paid off for both himself and the Buckeyes.
“I just think he’s so far ahead mentally,” Studrawa said. “That’s the biggest thing for those young kids and especially the center. Harry being a center and Harry being Harry, he just learns. ‘Coach, tell me some more. Feed me some more.’ We did all those iPad sessions, we did Facetiming, because he knew he was coming in to center.”
Even though what Miller is doing is rare, it has not surprised those who know him.
“I’ve known Harry for a while,” said redshirt sophomore center Josh Myers. “I was his host on his official visit. And he’s kind of kept in contact and back and forth about the offense and stuff. And so I’ve known him for a while, but I really like Harry. I mean, he’s my little brother in the big brother program. And he’s doing a great job. And his attitude is contagious. He has a great, great attitude, smiles all the time and is really contagious. I love Harry.”
Miller has done so well that he has already had his black stripe removed after just six practices. His play has also convinced Studrawa to move redshirt freshman Matthew Jones from center to left guard.
And even though Miller’s camp so far hasn’t been a surprise, that doesn’t mean people aren’t impressed.
“There’s a lot that will impress you about a true freshman that looks like that, has a great, great build, just dense. He’s not sloppy in any place,” said senior guard Jonah Jackson. “And he’s smart. He’s probably the brightest guy in the room besides [fifth-year senior tackle] Kevin Woidke. He’s very consistent in what he does and he’s smart, physical, and fast.”
Being one of the brightest guys in the room as a true freshman might speak poorly of the room, but that’s probably not the case here.
“He’s so far ahead mentally,” Studrawa said of Miller. “He’s out there making the checks today in a blitz pickup period and I don’t think I’ve ever had a freshman do that. Ever.”
Everything to this point has been nothing but positive for Miller. Over the last five or six years, however, Ohio State’s backup center has generally been a backup in name only.
In the past, if the starting center went down for a snap or a series or a game, a guard like Pat Elflein or Billy Price would slide over and the backup center would stay on the sideline while it all happened.
If you look at Ohio State’s offensive line now, left guard Jonah Jackson was a starting center at Rutgers in 2017, and his current backup Matthew Jones was a center last season as a true freshman.
Asking a true freshman to step in if there is an injury at center is a tall order, but Harry Miller has done nothing but meet — or exceed — expectations since he arrived.
If something unfortunate did happen to Myers, Studrawa doesn’t want to slide anybody over. He wants to get Miller ready to take the reins.
“Yes, that’s what I’m hoping for,” he said. “I’m hoping it’s not Matt Jones. I’m hoping it’s not Jonah Jackson. I’m hoping it’s not Gavin Cupp, who is snapping now. All for precautionary reasons because I’m hoping by the time we get that first game, ‘Hey, Harry’s the backup.’ If something happens or Josh gets hurt, ‘Get out and get in there,’ and the kid can do it.”