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No Matter What he Does, Braxton Miller Will Make Plays
By Patrick Murphy
The evolution of Braxton Miller continues
Photo by Jim Davidson

COLUMBUS – When you have a weapon in your offense, you have to use it. That’s Urban Meyer’s mentality, but right now at Ohio State, he has so many weapons.

Spreading the ball around is good, but there is one weapon in particular that Meyer wants to see get the ball frequently.

“He had three touches, I wish he had more,” the head coach said of H-back Braxton Miller. “We’re doing the best we can with him. I’m very pleased with him.”

Miller made the transition from quarterback to wide receiver this offseason after two shoulder surgeries ended his senior season before it began. It was a quick start with 140 total yards and two touchdowns in the season opener at Virginia Tech, but Miller came back to Earth after that game.

Each week Miller has shown development in his positional transition, but it’s not always on the stat sheet. One big part of Miller’s game that has seen drastic improvement is his blocking on the perimeter.

“Not playing receiver all my life, I actually found this year that blocking is a very important part of the receiver role,” he explained. “That’s how you get the ball moving downfield with the run plays. Blocking isn’t a problem at all.”

As a quarterback, Miller touched the ball every day, but as a receiver you only get so many plays with the ball in your hand. In order to make an impact, Miller had to become a better blocker to be on the field. And having him on the field is important because of his playmaking ability.

“Braxton is a very unique athlete, elite athlete, and he can do a lot of things, so nothing he does surprises me because I’ve seen him for four years or three seasons at least on the field,” offensive coordinator Ed Warinner said.

We’ve seen Miller win races to the endzone, juke an opponent out of his shoes, and even fix the spelling of his name on his jersey, but Saturday night Buckeye fans saw him make a spectacular catch worthy of a wide receiver.

Towards the end of the second quarter, with momentum beginning to build, Ohio State began a drive at its own 35-yard line. After an Ezekiel Elliott 2-yard rush, quarterback J.T. Barrett dropped and scanned the field. He saw Miller beat the nickel back with a quick move at the line and so he let the ball go down field.

It looked like an ordinary diving, over the shoulder catch, but nothing is ever ordinary when it comes to Miller.

“We practiced this throughout the whole week and then we finally hit it in the game,” Miller said of the catch excitedly. “At first I lost it in the air because I had to slow down, then he put his arms up and I lost it completely. Then I got into a good position and just used my senses for catching the ball.”

The ball first went through his hands and hit in between his legs then off the recovering defender. As he fell to the ground, Miller was able to haul the catch in on his back without the ball ever touching the ground. The play was reviewed and Miller had his best catch of the year.

“Braxton did a great job just relocating the ball,” Barrett said. “He said he lost it in the lights and then fortunately it hit him and then he was able to grab it.”

The next play was typical Braxton Miller take the ball and run. On the rush, Miller carried the ball 16 yards to the outside of the field, diving for the endzone for the score, but he just stepped out of bounds at the 2-yard line. Barrett finished off the drive with a rushing score on the next play.

Miller can still make plays with his feet as well as his hands
Photo by Dan Harker

“I love it. Coach Meyer knows I love it too,” Miller said of those two plays. “I just want to seize the opportunities that I get and just pray for more and just thank the man upstairs that I got the opportunity to play football again.”

This is Miller’s last year of college before a potential career at the next level. Throughout his collegiate time he’s demonstrated the ability to make the big play, but now it’s about doing a little bit of everything.

He can certainly play receiver at the next level,” Meyer said. “He’s that close right now, whereas two months ago, just getting lined up and getting into a stance, we’re so committed to get that guy, he’s done so much for this program. I’m very pleased with the way he’s blocking, with the way he’s catching the ball, he’s really getting good at his route running and I’m really excited for him.”

For the always-confident Miller, this was never a question. He knew when he made the switch from quarterback to receiver that he was going to play the position in the NFL, now he’s proving it to everyone else.

Absolutely, yeah, for sure,” Miller said of being NFL ready. “After game one I was really comfortable at the receiver position and playing the H-back role. Just having fun out there and showing my talents at receiver.”

Player profiles relevant to story:
1 - Miller, Braxton | 16 - Barrett, J.T. | Coach - Meyer, Urban | Coach - Warinner, Ed
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