Eleven wins. That's how shy Braxton Miller is of the all-time Ohio State QB victories record, a number so paltry that it has to be assumed he would've cleared it in his final season as the Buckeyes' signal-caller.
But in football, as in life, assumptions are a dangerous thing. By now, we all know the story. Miller's shoulder was wrecked time and time again, eventually leading to a non-contact labrum tear that sidelined him for the team's 2014 title run. Of course, it didn't look like a title run when the news broke of Miller's injury, and it certainly didn't look like one in the season's second week. You may recall a green J.T. Barrett and an inexperienced offensive line getting torn apart by a hungry Virginia Tech defense.
But the Buckeyes didn't look back after that game, and the title run became the stuff of legend. Barrett went 11-0 the rest of the way, and Cardale Jones filled in like a superhero once Barrett, too, was felled by an ill-timed injury.
The confetti was still falling when the questions began to swirl. Just how in the world was Urban Meyer going to deal with having three world-class quarterbacks on his roster? It was a problem that the Syracuses and Minnesotas of the world would kill to have, obviously, but a problem nonetheless. Several media outlets jumped on a solution: send Miller packing, or at least don't try to stop him leaving for greener pastures. Transfer rumors flew hard and fast.
The only problem with the speculation -- would he be a Blue Devil? The next savior of #FSUTwitter? Marcus Mariota's heir-apparent? -- was that Miller is a native son of Ohio, a Buckeye in the truest sense of the word, and never wanted to play anywhere else.
Miller wasn't projected as viable NFL prospect at QB, meaning the other kind of speculation -- the kind that pegged him as a position-change candidate -- preceded his actual announcement by months. So when the news broke last week that he would, in fact, become another weapon in Urban Meyer's lightning-quick arsenal, it hardly shocked the world.
What the position change means is that we are now in a unique position to reconsider Braxton Miller's legacy as a Buckeye. He won't become the winningest QB in school history, but that might not matter. He's already shown himself to be one of the most versatile and dangerous athletes to ever don the Scarlet and Gray. We've already seen his growth and maturation, not just as a player, but as a person. Meyer added today that "he's now moving to one of the top five, six workers on our team. And that's a credit to him. He's a serious dude right now. He wasn't a big fan of lifting weights just to lift weights, but he is now."
Moving from quarterback to wide receiver/H-Back is a tall order, especially for somebody who has only been a quarterback for several years. Meyer added that asking for a position change and big results is a tall order for most players. "For the average guy, I'd say it would be very hard out of the gate. But [Miller] is not common, though."
Meyer was quick to remind reporters that he was a receivers coach for several years, and will be personally working with Miller to help him catch up. Given that he now might be asked to take on a bigger role in the early season with Jalin Marshall, Dontre Wilson and Corey Smith facing a suspension, the celling for Miller could be even higher.
What happens if he puts up Jalin Marshall-like numbers this season? What do we say after a season in which Meyer and co. line him up all over the field, catching passes in the slot, taking swing screens for big yards, sending the occasional second pass deep for a score? Terrelle Pryor, another one of the best QBs in school history (and now a wide receiver for the Browns), showed flashes of multi-position talent during his freshman season. Imagine a comparable athlete like Miller getting to do that for an entire season.
It's become almost a college football meme at this point to compare an Ohio State player to former Florida Gator Percy Harvin, whose electric athleticism made the Gators a championship caliber force, but Meyer didn't shy away from the comparison. While he added that Harvin was the most dynamic athlete he had been around, Meyer said that "you can use Braxton Miller in the same tonnage of that kind of athleticism."
Miller has already rushed for over 3,000 yards over his Buckeye career. Pitt head coach, and former Michigan State assistant) Pat Narduzzi said that Miller was "the best running back" they faced that season. If he remains healthy, he clearly has all the potential in the world to impact the game in multiple ways.
What will we think of Braxton Miller's legacy after this season? We bet Miller has a few ideas himself.