Tim Kubick / For The Lantern
Nearly three months after his sophomore season ended, Braxton Miller is still being praised for what he accomplished in 2012.
At Ohio State’s men’s basketball game against Northwestern Thursday, the quarterback received his Big Ten Player of the Year trophy on the court amid a standing ovation from the crowd during a media timeout in the first half.
Miller, smiling, held the Silver Football, courtesy of the Chicago Tribune, high above his head for all the people in attendance at the Schottenstein Center to see.
Miller enjoys the recognition. It humbles him. The trophies and cheers help Miller realize how his hard work – and that from the rest of his team – can pay off.
“I’m just thankful for all the things I can do out (on the field) and receive awards like this,” Miller said, moments before accepting his trophy while wearing a black T-shirt, black sweatpants and red Nikes. “It’s a blessing.”
Miller, though, would much rather focus on the present and what lies ahead of him. His mind is dead set on preparing for the 2013 season.
At the forefront of that emphasis are the dual-threat signal caller’s fundamentals. “I had bad mechanics last year,” Miller said. “I want to focus on it this year.”
To better his footwork and throwing motion, Miller traveled west over OSU’s winter break to work with San Diego-based coach George Whitfield Jr. The quarterback guru – who has helped notable NFL gunslingers Ben Roethlisberger, Cam Newton and Andrew Luck, along with 2012 Heisman winner Johnny Manziel – trained Miller on the beaches of California.
Part of those workout sessions centered around “chaos mechanics.” When a play breaks down, Miller said he needs to be just as fundamentally sound as he would be in a standard three-step drop.
“You got to keep your composure and just keep your mind on your mechanics and it gets you through it,” Miller said. “I’m just getting comfortable right now.”
If Miller, who set a school-record for total yards in 2012 with 3,310 during the Buckeyes’ 12-0 season, can better the small details of his game, 2013 could be a Heisman season for OSU’s signal caller.
Consistency will be the key for the Big Ten’s most heralded offensive threat.
“When he’s good, he’s really good, and when he’s bad, he’s bad. We need him to be really good more often,” said OSU offensive coordinator Tom Herman Thursday. “His good is really, really stinking good and he just needs to continue working on the consistency of it, because he’s capable of that.”
Miller will have some new skill-players to work with in 2013. The Buckeyes signed multiple high-level prospects that helped OSU attain one of the top-three recruiting classes in the country this winter.
When asked if he is excited to play with the new talents, Miller grinned widely and replied, “Heck yeah.”
On-the-field skills aren’t the only aspect of his game that Miller is working on during the offseason.
OSU’s players are currently in a no-contact period with their coaches. Players are holding lifting sessions and position-centered workouts on their own. Miller might be one of the Buckeyes who is taking on a significant leadership role during this time.
“Every year, you’ve got to be a leader and just push the team and we got to start up from what we did last year,” Miller said.
Coming off a record-setting and undefeated year, expectations are quite high for Miller and the Buckeyes heading into next season.
Miller is at the head of nearly all preseason Heisman lists. OSU finds itself ranked in the top-5 of all the early poll projections.
The Buckeyes’ playmaker said he wouldn’t have it any other way. Miller will keep on working and preparing as he always has.
“No change, been this way my whole life,” Miller said.