CHICAGO — On July 23, redshirt senior Braxton Miller announced through Sports Illustrated that he would no longer be playing quarterback for Ohio State. Instead, the two-time Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year would be moving to wide receiver for his final season in Columbus.
OSU coach Urban Meyer was initially reserved about confirming Miller’s announcement but Thursday at the 2015 Big Ten Media Days, he offered a more concrete answer.
“I think Braxton will play receiver,” Meyer said.
The switch, however, according to Meyer, was somewhat of a plan B.
After Miller and his family approached Meyer roughly a month and a half ago to discuss what a plan B would be, Meyer said they “dove right into it” and began working on the switch.
Now for roughly a month, Meyer and wide receivers coach Zach Smith have spent time preparing Miller for the new position. However all of the coaches’ work has come without a football.
“It’s all been footwork,” Meyer said. “You can condition position specific and that’s what he’s been doing.”
When fall camp for the Buckeyes commences in a week, Meyer, a former receiver coach for Illinois State, Notre Dame and Colorado State from 1989-2000, said he personally will work with Miller from day one to develop his skills for his new role.
“I was a receiver coach for a long time,” Meyer said. “So I’m going to work with him myself and see if we can get him ready.”
Meyer did acknowledge that he has yet to see the Huber Heights, Ohio, native catch passes but the reactions from some teammates have been positive.
“Feedback I’m getting from guys like J.T. (Barrett) and Cardale (Jones) is that he’s very athletic obviously and he can catch the ball,” Meyer said. “I’ve not seen him do that. I’m anxious to see him do that.”
Senior linebacker Joshua Perry said although Miller has not been on the field for 7-on-7 drills due him still recovering from shoulder surgery, Perry has seen running routes and catching the ball.
“He’s really good with the ball in his hands. It doesn’t matter what position he’s playing, he’s going to make plays,” Perry said during Big Ten Media Days. “It will be fun to watch him when he gets going.”
As for when he gets going, Meyer said it would be “uncommon at least right out of the gate” for him to contribute at his new position right away. But Meyer admitted Miller is “not common.”
“He’s one of the best athletes I’ve ever coached. He’s got an incredible first step,” Meyer said. “My expectation is he’s an impact player.”
Miller will get a chance to contribute at his new position on Sept. 7, when the defending national champion Buckeyes are scheduled to open their season against Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, Va.