It’s official: Braxton Miller to miss 2014 season

56 Comments

O-H!  UH-OH!!!

Unfortunately for Ohio State and the fans of its football team, their worst fears have been realized as OSU announced today that, as widely expected, starting quarterback Braxton Miller will miss the entire 2014 season.  Miller, the two-time Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year reinjured his right(throwing) shoulder during practice Monday, with at least a couple of reports indicating that the he suffered a dislocated shoulder on a throw in which there was no contact.

“My thoughts and prayers are with Braxton and his family,” Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer said in a statement. “This is an unfortunate injury to a young man who means so much to this program and to Buckeye nation.”

Other than he reinjured the same shoulder, the school declined to acknowledge the specific nature of the injury. They did allow that it was a non-contact play and the injury will require surgery to repair.

There is not timetable as of yet for surgery or a return to football activities.

Former Ohio State All-American wide receiver Joey Galloway, who was at yesterday’s practice, “said the injury to Braxton occurred on a rollout throwing a short pass toward the sideline.”

“He didn’t even get hit,” a source told Pete Thamel of SI.com. “He threw and it’s just a freakish thing. Everyone is scratching their head on how it happened.” Thamel added that Miller suffered a torn labrum, not a dislocation of his shoulder.

The injury didn’t go unnoticed all across college football and by former teammates.  And Las Vegas.

There was some good news, at least for now, amidst the gloom as Miller revealed that he will return to the Buckeyes for the 2015 season.  Miller is a fourth-year senior and has yet to use a redshirt.

He’ll use one this year and then, if he does return — he could change his mind and enter the 2015 NFL draft — he’ll be a fifth-year senior who would be poised to again lead his beloved Buckeyes.

“I love Ohio State and Buckeye nation, and my goal is to come back from this injury stronger and better than ever,” said Miller, who is 26-8 as a starter, including 24-2 the past two seasons, in his statement. “I am on course to graduate in December and I want to attend graduate school, and then return to lead the Buckeyes next season. In the meantime, I want to give all the support I can to my coaches and teammates as they chase a championship this season.”

That’s the future, though. The present is what currently matters most to OSU.

JT Barrett
JT Barrett

With the end of Miller’s season officially finalized, the Buckeyes will turn to, at least initially, J.T. Barrett.  The redshirt freshman had been in a battle throughout spring practice and on into summer camp with sophomore Cardale Jones to be Miller’s backup, only just recently moving into the No. 2 spot on the depth chart.

Both Barrett and Jones received extensive work during the 15 spring sessions as Miller rehabbed the partially torn labrum he suffered in the Orange Bowl loss to Clemson, which was subsequently repaired in what at the time was described as minor surgery in late February.  That extra work for the two reserves continued into summer camp as Miller had been limited due to what was described as soreness in his shoulder.

While the pair have received additional reps because of Miller’s issues, it won’t help the game-day inexperience.  Barrett has never thrown a pass at the collegiate level, while Jones has thrown just two.

Despite the lack of on-field experience at this level, Barrett will enter the huddle with a fairly lofty recruiting pedigree and an assertive leadership style.

A four-star member of OSU’s 2013 recruiting class, Barrett was rated as the No. 7 dual-threat quarterback in the country.  Easily the biggest knock on Barrett is his arm strength, or lack thereof.  His offensive coordinator/position coach, however, says the former Texas high schooler more than makes up for lack of a cannon on his shoulder in other facets of the game.

“Extremely cerebral. Very magnetic leader,” Tom Herman said earlier this month of a player who’s turned out to be his new starting quarterback. “I think the kids kind of gravitate towards him.

“We’ve got to work on strengthening his arm. He’s a distant third in terms of Braxton and Cardale in terms of just rearing back and trying to throw it through a wall. But he makes up for it in his anticipation and his accuracy and all that. You don’t have to have a howitzer to be successful in college football. I’m very pleased with his continuing growth.”

Cardale Jones
Cardale Jones

Jones, a three-star member of the Buckeyes’ 2011 recruiting class who delayed his enrollment at OSU for prep school, was rated as the No. 12 pro-style quarterback in the country that year.  He took a redshirt as a true freshman, then played sparingly in 2013; in 39 plays from scrimmage last season, Jones threw the ball twice (completing one for three yards) and ran 17 times (for 128 yards and a touchdown).

Meyer didn’t address just who will start the opener against Navy, although it was noted in the release that “[i]t was previously announced by Meyer on Saturday that Barrett, a 6-1, 225-pounder from Wichita Falls, Texas, had moved ahead of Jones for the No. 2 quarterback spot.”  Recently, Barrett has taken the lion’s share of reps with the first-team offense as he separated himself from Jones.

Taking all of that into account, there’s no reason to tap dance around it — losing Miller for the year is a significant blow to the Buckeyes and will certainly have an impact on the Big Ten Race.  It also may very well significantly impact the first year of the College Football Playoff as the Buckeyes, despite the Big Ten title-game loss to Michigan State, were the overwhelming favorites to claim the conference and emerge as the league’s playoff representative.  Miller is one of the most irreplaceable and indispensable players in college football; some would even argue that he’s the most irreplaceable and indispensable, given the unproven running backs in OSU’s stable and the coaching staff having to replace four of its five starting offensive linemen.

Even as it may seem like it in the here and now, the season’s not completely lost for the Buckeyes.  As, just to name a few, Oregon’s Marcus Mariota, Texas A&M’s Johnny Manziel,  Notre Dame’s Everett Golson and Florida State’s Jameis Winston have shown over the past couple of years, redshirt freshmen are perfectly capable of successfully leading their teams in their first seasons as starters.  One of those four (Winston) won a BCS title, while another (Golson) helped lead his team to the BCS title game.  Winston won the Heisman en route to the championship, while Manziel took home his while helping the Aggies win 11 games their first season in the SEC.  Mariota was first-team All-Pac-12 in 2012 as the Ducks won 11 games, including the Fiesta Bowl.

More than likely, the Ducks and Aggies would’ve qualified for the playoffs were that system around in 2012, the former in particular.

Then there’s this: USC’s Matt Leinart (2004), LSU’s Matt Flynn (2007) Alabama’s Greg McElroy (2009), Auburn’s Cam Newton (2010), Alabama’s AJ McCarron (2011) and Winston (2013) all won BCS titles in their first year as starters over the last decade.

Who knows, Barrett could make it three seasons in a row for the second-year freshman/first-year starter phenomenon that’s done nothing but grow over the past handful of years.  And, for now, that’s about all Buckeye Nation can hang their title hopes on.

Well, that and a schedule that features just one team at the moment ranked in the Top 25 — No. 8 Michigan State in East Lansing.  That’s easily OSU’s toughest road game of the year, with other games away from The Horseshoe consisting of against Navy (9-4 in 2013) (in Baltimore), Maryland (7-6), Penn State (7-5) and Minnesota (8-5).  Their home slate features matchups against Virginia Tech (8-5), Kent State (4-8), Cincinnati (9-4), Rutgers (6-7), Illinois (4-8), Indiana (5-7) and Michigan (7-6).

According to FBSchedules.com, Ohio State’s 2014 schedule is tied for fifth-toughest, with Oregon, among the teams currently ranked in the Associated Press Top 10.  The .569 winning percentage of its opponents top that of defending BCS champion Florida State (.550), Oklahoma (.477) and Alabama (.473).

In other words, it’s not the cakewalk some have perceived to be.  It’s not exactly a football death march either, which means that, depending on how fast Barrett — or Jones — get acclimated, all the gloom and doom currently hanging over the football program could give way to a postseason full of possibilities.  Or it’ll be 2011 all over again in terms of the won/loss ledger.  One of the two.

 

Feleipe Franks transfers from Florida to Arkansas

Former Florida quarterback Feleipe Franks will transfer to Arkansas and be eligible to play in the fall.
Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images
1 Comment

Former Florida quarterback Feleipe Franks has made his transfer decision. He will be an Arkansas Razorback.

Franks is a grad transfer, which will make him eligible for Arkansas this fall. Even better for Arkansas is Franks will be enrolled in classes and be available to work out with his new team this spring. That means Franks will get a chance to go through a full spring practice schedule for his new program under brand new head coach Sam Pittman. Arkansas will also get its first spring practice in with new offensive coordinator Kendall Briles. It should go without much saying the Arkansas offense will have a new look in 2020.

A starting job may not yet be guaranteed for Franks at Arkansas, but he will be the most experienced option available. If Franks gels well with his new team this spring, that starting job may quickly become his to lose, if it is not considered that already. Franks is coming back from a season-ending ankle injury.

Arkansas will certainly be getting an experienced passer. Ranks passed for 4,593 yards and 38 touchdowns during his time at Florida, which included some time as the starter for the Gators. Franks also made a visit to Kansas while evaluating his options since deciding he would move on from Gainesville.

Bo Pelini heading back to LSU? It could be in play, per report

Could Bo Pelini be heading back to LSU?
Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images
Leave a comment

LSU needs a defensive coordinator, and Bo Pelini could potentially be the answer. According to a report from Football Scoop, the one-time LSU defensive coordinator could be a leading candidate for the job in Baton Rouge.

Given his defensive track record, Pelini and LSU could be a solid match, and it has certainly worked out well before. Pelini was LSU’s defensive coordinator from 2005 through 20078 before he was given the opportunity to be a head coach at Nebraska. The Cornhuskers were coached by Pelini from 2008 through 2014 with a handful of appearances in the Big 12 and Big Ten championship game, although with no conference title to show for it.

Pelini was let go as head coach at Nebraska after the 2014 season. He has been the head coach at Youngstown State since 2015. After a few disappointing seasons, a chance to jump back to the FBS, and to do so with the defending national champions, could be a good move for Pelini. If LSU and Pelini see eye-to-eye, then this could be as good a replacement at defensive coordinator as LSU could have asked for.

LSU has a vacancy at defensive coordinator after Dave Arranda accepted an opportunity to be the new head coach at Baylor following LSU’s national championship run.

Rutgers adds another Big Ten transfer with former Wolverine Michael Dwumfour

Michigan Wolverines football
Photo by Scott W. Grau/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images
Leave a comment

New Rutgers head coach Greg Schiano has been tapping the transfer portal to help build the roster in his first year back with the Scarlet Knights. On Monday, Rutgers added another Big Ten transfer to the program with the addition of defensive tackle Michael Dwumfour. Dwumfour transfers to Rutgers from Michigan.

Schiano confirmed the latest addition to the program on his Twitter account.

Dwumfour will be a graduate transfer, so he will be eligible right away for Rutgers this upcoming season. Dwumfour played 33 games for the Wolverines, including 10 game sin 2019 with four starts. He will provide an instant upgrade to the Rutgers defensive line depth and should be thrown right into the mix for a starting job this fall.

Notably, Dwumfour is a New Jersey native. Schiano’s hiring at Rutgers has certainly had a bit of an initial impact in luring some of the state’s and regional recruits on the transfer market. Earlier this month, Rutgers welcomed Brooklyn, New York product and former Wisconsin wide receiver Aron Cruickshank (HERE).

Miami gets its QB with ex-Houston dual-threat D’Eriq King as grad transfer

Former Houston quarterback D'Eriq King is heading to Miami.
Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images
Leave a comment

A day later, D’Eriq King is officially committed to the Miami Hurricanes. King brought his transfer process to a close on Monday afternoon with an announcement he is indeed committed to Miami. King shared the news with his followers on Twitter.

On Sunday, it was initially reported by Manny Navarro of The Athletic that King was scheduled to enroll and begin classes at Miami this week. Classes at Miami begin Tuesday. However, a quote of King relayed by a Houston-based media report shortly afterward quoted King as saying he had made no final decision and was still weighing some possible options. Other options were said to include Arkansas, LSU, and Maryland.

Miami was reported early on as a possible landing spot for King, along with Arkansas. Ole Miss had also been mentioned as an option early on. King initially started his transfer process by opting to redshirt the remainder of the 2019 season after a rough start to the year for the Cougars. He said at the time he had every intent on returning to the program in 2020, but his sudden announcement during the national championship game last week made it evident he was moving on. And now, of course, he has.

King appeared in just four games for Houston last season. In those four games, King passed for 663 yards and six touchdowns with two interceptions. The dual-threat quarterback also rushed for 313 yards and six touchdowns before redshirting the remainder of the 2019 season. In 11 game sin 2018, King passed for 2,982 yards and 36 touchdowns and rushed for 674 yards and 14 touchdowns. King is certainly a quality talent that will add to the Miami offense and inject some new life into the program. With the right help around him, King could help make Miami an ACC Coastal contender in 2020.

King will be eligible for Miami in 2020 as a graduate transfer.