CHICAGO — Junior quarterback Braxton Miller might be quiet behind the microphone, but he lets his arm do the talking on the field. And with his arm putting him in the Heisman race, Miller doesn’t let the hype cloud his vision.
“I see it, hear it, a lot. But I really don’t pay attention to it, because if you pay too much attention too it, you’ll be focused on that,” Miller said about talks of his Heisman contention. “I see it on ESPN sometimes, I hear it, and I’m like ‘wow, I’ve just got to get better so I can achieve that goal.’”
Miller sees his positive attributes on the field as major benefits for Heisman trophy voting time, but said he feels more blessed when talked about in the company of past Ohio State winners.
“To be in the same talk as Archie (Griffin), Eddie (George) and Troy (Smith), it’s unbelievable where I was in high school, and where I’m at now,” Miller said. “I’m just blessed to be where I’m at right now.”
Where Miller is at right now is coming off an undefeated season, when he was also fifth place in Heisman voting. But his 2,039 passing yards and 1,271 rushing yards in 12 games wasn’t enough to earn him a ticket to New York City, where the annual Heisman trophy ceremony is held.
Last year’s winner, Johnny Manziel from Texas A&M, may not be in the picture this year, clearing even more room for Miller.
Manziel has been facing controversy from issues with attendance at the Manning Football Camp in late June.
Miller has the entire 2013 season to prove why he should earn the trophy, and he has nothing but statistical support from head coach Urban Meyer as well. Some of Meyer’s past quarterbacks, including Tim Tebow, Chris Leak and Alex Smith, all had stronger statistical seasons after their first seasons with Meyer.
On top of that, as Miller moves into his second season with Meyer, the coach has nothing but kind words for his quarterback.
“I’m sure when you guys see him, you’re like, you’re talking about one of the finest athletes in America, a Heisman candidate who was Player of the Year in the Big Ten, and he’s still the same, humble guy,” Meyer said. “And I’m not sure I’ve ever had that in a player. Not a superstar like that.”
In addition to being named Big Ten Player of the Year in 2012, this is also Miller’s second season named to the Big Ten Preseason Players to Watch list. He is accompanied on that list by Buckeye cornerback Bradley Roby and linebacker Ryan Shazier.
Miller’s teammate, offensive lineman Jack Mewhort, thinks Miller is deserving of any hype surrounding his Heisman chances.
“Obviously being his left tackle, I’m a little biased, but I think he’s going to win the Heisman,” Mewhort said. “I know the stuff he can do, I’ve seen him work this summer.”
Mewhort and Meyer both agree Miller’s modesty is one of the top reasons he’s both a team leader and a great Heisman candidate.
“You know I’ll tell you, the cool thing is he’s changed a lot as far as his demeanor, as far as his approach toward other people, as far as his leadership, (but) what he hasn’t lost is his, and it’s so neat to say this, is his humble approach,” Meyer said.
His teammates notice that same humility too.
“The one thing that’s great about Braxton is he’s really humble and he doesn’t let that stuff like that go to his head,” Mewhort said.
Miller did have a brief moment of recognizing his stardom when he mentioned the full case of trophies at his parents house. When asked about making space for a 2013 Heisman trophy, Miller didn’t hesitate with his answer.
“There’s a lot of stuff, but a lot of room,” Miller said, “a lot of room for more.”
The real Heisman race starts for Miller on August 31 when OSU’s 2013 campaign starts at home against Buffalo. Kickoff is set for noon.