Braxton’s position switch trims Buckeyes’ QB battle to two
When Braxton Miller officially announced earlier this month that he would be staying at Ohio State instead of transferring, most assumed that OSU’s much-discussed three-headed quarterback competition was officially on. Instead, it merely served as the precursor to a stunning yet not all that surprising turn of events.
In an exclusive interview with Pete Thamel of SI.com, Braxton Miller revealed that he will begin not only summer camp but the 2015 season as an H-Back-type player, not as a quarterback. The hybrid position, which will include copious amounts of time with Miller split out/lined up as a wide receiver, was something the two-time Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year (as a quarterback) first discussed with strength coach Mickey Marotti way back in April. A month later, he was discussing a potential position switch with head coach Urban Meyer; a couple of weeks later, he was running clandestine routes as a receiver, with J.T. Barrett as the triggerman.
On July 9, when Miller proclaimed that OSU “is where I started and this is where I’m going to finish it” and proclaimed himself fully healthy from shoulder surgery that cost him the entire 2014 season, he simultaneously dismissed talk of changing positions. Sort of.
“Absolutely,” Miller said when asked if he was coming back as a quarterback. “God put me on this earth … to be an athlete, and the first thing in mind is being a quarterback, and just be smart about what I do.”
Exactly two weeks later, and with the throwing shoulder not as healthy as he needs it to be, Miller is falling back on Plan B for health reasons. And for the good of the team for which he grew up rooting.
“For the most part, it’s going to be H-Back and punt return,” Miller told Thamel when it comes to his immediate future as a Buckeye. “It’s a long process to get back totally to throwing and throwing every day. This is the smarter thing for right now, God blessed me with a lot of talent and different opportunities. I’m going to have fun with that and still score a lot of touchdowns and help the team out and be dominant at that.”
Miller did, though, allow that he’ll spend 20 percent of his workload during summer camp with the quarterbacks, which will give opposing coordinators on the 2015 schedule just enough to think about when the senior takes the field and lines up at whatever position.
Just like that, though, there were two: Barrett and Cardale Jones. The former led the Buckeyes to the cusp of a Big Ten title and College Football Playoff appearance before sustaining a season-ending leg injury in the regular-season finale, while the latter led the Buckeyes to three stunning postseason wins that culminated in a national championship.
Because of the recovery from his injury, Barrett didn’t participate in spring practice, giving Jones a leg up under a new offensive coordinator. Now that the field has been whittled from three to two, it’ll be fascinating to see if the redshirt sophomore Barrett can close whatever gap the rifle-armed redshirt junior Jones may have opened up this spring.
And, if anything, the position switch may have made this quarterback competition that much more intriguing, if that was even possible.