You can probably pick an Ohio State player’s name out of a hat and feel good about his chances of being a Heisman Trophy finalist. Running back Ezekiel Elliott was among the top favorites entering the season, with quarterbacks Cardale Jones and J.T. Barrett also in the conversation. Some might even feel inclined to throw defensive end Joey Bosa in the debate, because we always feel a need to put a defensive player in the conversation despite having no real shot of seeing it develop. But lost in the Heisman shuffle this offseason was one name that perhaps never should have dropped off as far as it did. On Monday night, Braxton Miller reintroduced himself to the college football nation, reminding everyone watching Ohio State’s 42-24 victory at Virginia Tech just how special a talent he is.
To say we forgot about Miller would be unfair. Miller’s status was a key offseason topic for Ohio State, with various transfer rumors connecting the former quarterback to Oregon, LSU, Alabama and who knows where else. He chose to stay at Ohio State. He chose to move to a new position, wide receiver. If there was any question how that transition would go, Miller answered it with a resounding “It’ll all be OK” Monday night.
Miller’s first catch came on Ohio State’s third offensive series of the night, and it was worth the wait. On 1st and five from the Virginia Tech 48-yard line, Jones sent a rocket toward a diving Miller, and the new Buckeyes receiver showed off great hands by snagging the football for a 24-yard gain over the middle. The second half started with a bang as Jones and Miller once again hooked up for a big play. This time it was a 54-yard touchdown pass that gave Ohio State a spark and the lead after trailing the Hokies at halftime. Later in the quarter Miller served up a spin move so devastatingly video game-like you would have thought Twitter exploded with the response. It was almost as if the world forgot just how special Miller can be on the field, when healthy.
The truth is we always knew Miller had great speed and skill. He showed that off when he was the full-time starting quarterback at Ohio State. Before having to miss the 2014 season due to a shoulder injury, Miller was twice named the winner of The Silver Football and twice named the Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year. Two times Miller was named All-Big Ten First Team and he was a top 10 Heisman candidate in both 2012 and 2013. The world knew of Miller. What we didn’t know was juts how well he could take on a key role at a brand new position. Now we know. Let us not forget.
“I would like to say this, I love Braxton Miller,” Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer said after the game. “When you have selflessness, you make a lot of decisions as you have to and he did it for the best interest of his team and Ohio State and when I think about that it makes you feel good. I love that kid, man. And when he does the spin move and the ridiculous athletic ability. He broke down in there, got real emotional. So the negative about football is that you don’t see their faces, you see a helmet and sometimes a visor and you don’t get to see what the kid’s all about.”
In a world in which overreaction following one game in September is unwise, I cannot help but fall into the trap of thinking Miller may just be the best Heisman Trophy candidate Ohio State has to offer this season. History, of course, is not on Miller’s side as a wide receiver has won the Heisman Trophy just once since 1991. That year the Heisman Trophy was won by Desmond Howard of Michigan. The former Heisman Trophy winner chimed in on Miller Monday night…
I would not go so far as to call Miller’s earlier years at quarterback a waste.I would also suggest Miller may just be a natural talent that was born to play football by any means necessary.
We will see if Miller can continue to show off this level of performance in the weeks to come, but given Ohio State’s schedule coming up it would be fair to say we will see plenty more highlights involving Miller.