Joe Podelco / Photo editor
One of the things that make sports so great is the athletes who have the ability to excite everyone around them when they play. Some players can do everything right down to the smallest detail, but they lack the God-given talent or wow factor to truly capture the audience.
Sports junkies love the players who do all the little things. Clichés like, “They play the game the way it’s meant to be played,” or, “They just really respect the game,” are thrown around by “experts” like a rag doll in a hurricane.
But some players you just know are special. Your mom can walk in and immediately point them out without ever seeing them play.
When these guys play, the game doesn’t revolve around the score or the other players. It becomes a constant question: What is this guy going to do next?
Braxton Miller is that guy.
I’m that guy who cares way too much about his high school, even though I’ve already graduated. I still keep up with all the stats and players and still feel emotionally abused when they lose.
Prior to this Fall Quarter, my alma mater, Archbishop Moeller, in Cincinnati, was playing Miller’s team, Wayne, in the first game of the regular season. I was in attendance, of course.
Miller made Moeller’s defense look more porous than the plotline of Lost. It looked like 1997-Barry Sanders decided to play high school football for a day.
When Moeller had the ball, I was almost disappointed because it meant Miller didn’t. Moeller came back and won the football game in the second half, but 20 years from now, the only thing I’ll remember from that game is Miller’s performance. He was, without doubt, the best high school athlete I had ever seen.
In high school, Miller was the transcendent athlete who had all eyes on him at all times. He had the “it” factor.
But high school and Division I college football are two different animals. Dominance on one level doesn’t guarantee it at the next.
Miller’s arrival at Ohio State, coupled with the upcoming suspension of starting quarterback Terrelle Pryor, means once again, all eyes are on Miller.
He’s the fan favorite in the quarterback battle, not necessarily because he’s best suited for the job, but because of his potential. Miller has more upside than the Sears Tower.
Fans are excited because Miller could become the type of player that makes you wait to go to the bathroom because you just can’t risk missing a single play.
So why not put the young kid in during Pryor’s suspension?
I say give him a chance. Tressel won’t be on the sidelines for the first five games, but his fingerprints will still be all over the playbook.
Anyone who’s watched a Tressel-coached team knows the game plan with a new quarterback will be a heavy dose of the running game and a few safe passes. Why not let Miller be the guy handing the ball off?
There’s no question he’s the quarterback of the future. Getting him snaps under center, no matter if he’s passing or handing it off, will undoubtedly help his development.
In an offense that lacks playmakers, especially during the suspension-filled first five games, Miller’s natural running ability provides a threat and another aspect of the offense the defense needs to be aware of.
At the very least, let him get some reps during the first two games of the season against Akron and Toledo, two games OSU could win with my dog under center.
Going into the Miami (Fla.) game, if the coaching staff doesn’t feel he’s ready for the elevated level of play, then go ahead and put one of the other guys in; but not giving Miller a chance would be doing the team a disservice.
This team has the highest ceiling when Miller is in the game, and if the coaches don’t provide the opportunity for the team to reach its highest potential, they’re cutting their team short.
OSU had two scrimmages this spring. No quarterback has looked particularly good. But during the first scrimmage, there was a play I will never forget.
Miller took the snap in the shotgun about 15 yards from the end zone, looked for an open receiver, but couldn’t find anyone. A defensive lineman came through the line and had a clear shot at Miller, but the quarterback gave him a juke, spun out of the tackle, burst through the line, froze a linebacker, juked to the right avoiding another tackler and, as two defenders converged on him from either side, dove head-first across the goal line.
It was the type of play you can’t teach and showed Miller has the ability to be explosive against college-caliber players. None of the other quarterbacks battling for the starting job could dream of making that play.
Miller could become that mom-recognizable athlete and has the ability to make a good team great. Whether those high school talents and that transcendent play can translate to the college level remains to be seen, but until then, give him a chance.
I say it’s Miller Time this year, and happy hour starts Sept. 3.