When he announced in early January that he would be returning to Ohio State for one final ride along the banks of the Olentangy, Braxton Miller had a chance.
A chance to rush or pass for the 505 yards he needed to become OSU’s all-time leader in total offense.
A chance to win 11 games to become the all-time winningest quarterback in OSU’s history.
A chance to throw for the six necessary touchdowns to own the record for total passing touchdowns as a Buckeye.
A chance to pass for the 2,256 yards he needs to become OSU’s all-time passing yards leader.
A chance to score the single touchdown he needed to become OSU’s all-time touchdown leader.
A chance to become the most dominant statistical quarterback in OSU history, as evidenced by the very attainable numbers above.
After throwing a pass on Monday that left his right shoulder in pain and the future of his football career uncertain, Braxton Miller is awaiting word following a Tuesday morning MRI that will reveal whether or not that chance remains.
But as the star quarterback and legions of Buckeye fans await the news, as it stands right now, what does his legacy look like?
While all the numbers above might merit placing him amongst OSU’s greatest quarterbacks, there’s one thing that holds Miller back.
Art Schlichter, OSU’s quarterback from 1978 through 1981 and the holder of many of the aforementioned career records, won two Big Ten Championships and a Liberty Bowl matchup against Navy.
Bobby Hoying, another famed quarterback and holder of the record for touchdown passes at OSU, won a Big Ten Championship and a Holiday Bowl against the BYU Cougars.
Joe Germaine, another of OSU’s most legendary passers, won the MVP of the 1997 Rose Bowl when the Buckeyes topped Arizona State.
Troy Smith won the Heisman Trophy, in addition to the 2006 Fiesta Bowl, all the while leading the Buckeyes to the 2007 National Championship Game against Urban Meyer and the Florida Gators.
Thus far, Miller has yet to win a postseason game. He has yet to finish higher than fifth in Heisman Trophy voting. Yes, he’s twice won the Silver Football given annually to the Big Ten’s most outstanding player, but that’s about the extent of the hardware sitting upon Miller’s proverbial shelf.
2014 was Miller’s chance to receive some of the hardware he’s worked toward for the past three seasons. It was his chance to become the only three-time winner of the Silver Football. It was his chance to become OSU’s most recent Heisman Trophy finalist.
It was his chance to clear that seemingly insurmountable hurdle and win his first postseason game, and maybe more, as a Buckeye.
Instead, after committing to another year at OSU, avoiding the lure of the NFL, Miller lies upon a table, machines surrounding him, as he anxiously awaits the fate of his season, his career and his legacy.
If the test results end No. 5’s time in scarlet and gray, how would he be viewed amongst the greatest players in Buckeye football lore?
I’d say that Braxton Miller never really got a chance.