Braxton Miller finally answered what had been a question only to those outside the Ohio State program: He will return to play for the Buckeyes in 2015 and has every intention of remaining a quarterback.
“I’m from Ohio; this is my home state,” Miller told The Dispatch on Thursday. “This is where I started, and this is where I’m going to finish it.”
Sitting in coach Urban Meyer’s office, Miller spoke for the first time about the ordeal he has been though since suffering a right shoulder injury — his second in eight months — 12 days before the start of the 2014 season. It knocked him out of what turned out to be a national championship run orchestrated first by J.T. Barrett and finished by Cardale Jones.
“I think when it first happened, it was kind of a shell shock to him,” Kevin Miller, Braxton’s father, said on Thursday. “He’d just had surgery and had been doing well to that point, and to have that happen two weeks before the opening game …”
In the meantime, Miller earned his degree in December, making him free to transfer to another school and play immediately. As Meyer, OSU athletic director Gene Smith, Kevin Miller and others rebutted any notion that Miller was headed elsewhere, the quarterback kept quiet about it until Thursday. He said he didn’t want to do interviews until he was fully healthy.
“I look on the Internet and I see things forever on my timeline — Instagram, Twitter — that had me transferring to all types of different schools and stuff like that,” Miller said. “It was kind of a big controversy at the time, but I had to keep my head on straight.
“Schools reached out. They reached out hard (to people other than his immediate family or OSU coaches). And I kept my head where it needed to be, and I stayed smart with my situation.”
Kevin Miller said he continually reassured his son.
“I just told him things happen for a reason, so there must be a bigger plan for you,” he said. “I told him that you just have to sit back and get healthy, and when your opportunity comes again, you have to be ready.”
The start of competition for quarterback is still a month away. Meyer was more interested on Thursday in praising the loyalty of Miller, who guided the Buckeyes to 21 of the first 24 straight victories in 2012 and ’13 that started the Meyer era.
“He’s a great kid who is a good student who does things right,” Meyer said. “He has always loved Ohio State. That’s why when I heard this stuff (about a possible transfer), I was like, ‘Where is this stuff coming from?'”
It wasn’t coming from Miller, who said he is returning for his fifth year at Ohio State with the goal of playing quarterback again.
“God put me on this Earth … to be an athlete,” Miller said, “and the first thing in mind is being a quarterback, and just be smart about what I do.”
He said he embraces a competition with Barrett and Jones.
“I know who I am as a person. I know who I am as an athlete,” Miller said. “As it stands right now, I know I am the best athlete in college football. If any competition wants to come my way, I’ve just got to be smart about things and just stay looking forward.”
He tweeted eight days ago that he had just had a “successful checkup” in his latest visit to the Birmingham, Ala., office of James Andrews, the famed orthopedic surgeon who put Miller’s shoulder back together following the injury late last August. On the recent trip, Miller was seen by Kevin Wilk, a physical therapist who works with Andrews.
“Strength-wise, I’m solid,” Miller said. “I’m doing all types of exercises all the other (players on the team) are doing. I don’t have any pain or aches or anything like that.
“The only reason why they say I’m not 100 percent yet is a little bit (because of) the rotation in my right arm. But that’s going to come by throwing the ball every day. That comes with repetition. Other than that, I’m healthy.”
Miller initially was injured against Clemson in the Orange Bowl at the end of the 2013 season. He had surgery locally almost two months later when the shoulder didn’t heal on its own. Then came that afternoon in August last year when, throwing aggressively for the first time in preseason camp, he felt the shoulder come apart again.
“It just happened,” Miller said. “I was surprised, too. … Leading up to that, I was good. I was 100 percent. My arm was good. I had no aches and pains and things like that. I read up on that, that if you rush it from surgery and your shoulder is not fully recovered from a labrum tear, it’s liable to slip out.
“I believe I didn’t take the time to fully get recovered. It usually takes a year, and that’s what I did this time.”
The injury meant he had to watch as the Buckeyes won the first College Football Playoff national championship.
“It was tough,” Miller said. “It was tough for me because as a competitor you want to play in the type of environment like that, you want to play in games like that. You dream of stuff like that. …
“But you know, at the end of the day, all these guys work just as hard as I do, and they want to see the same thing that I want to see. … They work hard throughout their career, they got to that point, and I was happy for them.”
This article was written by Tim May & Bill Rabinowitz from The Columbus Dispatch and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.