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Can Miller really win the Heisman?

• Sophomore quarterback is still learning, but suddenly blossoming to gain national acclaim

September 21, 2012
By SETH STASKEY - Buckeye Blitz (sstaskey@timesleaderonline.com) , Times Leader

The college football season is just three weeks old.

And in today's age of immediate information, it seems that no matter where you look on websites or talk radio shows, pundits are already predicting who will win the Heisman Trophy in December.

It seems that regardless who you listen to a pair of the same names keep popping up in the discussion and based on their games thus far, they totally deserve the publicity.

West Virginia quarterback Geno Smith was one of the players that was gaining all sorts of pre-season attention after the brilliant 2011 season he put forth.

Ohio State quarterback Braxton Miller, meanwhile, wasn't on anyone's radar for the most prestigious individual award in college football before the season.

Now, just three games in, Miller is gaining all sorts of steam in the straw polls and debates that go on each week.

Miller is the Buckeyes' leading rusher and he also ranked as the top rushing quarterback in the country and amongst the nation's leaders in the stat category with 377 yards and five touchdowns.

Through the air, Miller has thrown seven touchdowns and passed for 611 yards.

On top of the stats, Miller has become basically a weekly highlight reel with his moves to juke defenders. He's left a Miami of Ohio player in the dust and this past weekend, against Cal, used a quick stutter step to elude a Bear defender.

But, as Meyer likes to point out, it's still a work-in-progress with a lot of season left ahead.

"I am pleased with his progress," Meyer said. "He's a much different player than he was a year ago and that's coming from (assistant coach) Stan Drayton, who was on the staff a year ago, because I didn't know."

Miller arrived at Ohio State as a ballyhooed recruit from Wayne High School in Huber Heights. However, he didn't expect to see the field at all last year. It was supposed to be a learning year under Terrelle Pryor.

However, Pryor was ruled inelgible by the NCAA and eventually worked his way into the NFL Supplemental Draft where he was chosen by the Oakland Raiders.

So, Miller worked his way up the depth chart when Joe Bauserman was completely ineffective and the offense struggled.

"Braxton showed up and wasn't in the conversation about playing," Meyer said. "Ability wise, he should have been. But, he wasn't a great practice player, and that's where I think he's improved the most. Freak athletes, like that, have gotten away with it for so long from little league to high school where they go out destroying people."

Obviously, after this week's date against UAB, Miller's road to New York City for the December award's presentation will get considerably tougher, including next week's venture to East Lansing to face Michigan State.

But, as he continues to settle into Meyer's system and works hard during the week, Miller's skillset is one that can be tough to be prepare for and even tougher to defend.

So, is a Heisman Trophy a possibility this season for Miller?

"I don't think he's played enough," Meyer said. "I've been lucky to have three guys go to New York and it's been fun to be a part of that. Just two of my guys have actually went to New York, but three or four have been mentioned and all of that. I think at the appropriate time time, I won't say he's not, but I don't think he is now."

Only three sophomores have ever won the Heisman Trophy. Ironically, the first was Tim Tebow, who was Meyer's quarterback at Florida. The other two are Alabama's Mark Ingram and Oklahoma's Sam Bradford.

BUCKEYES NOTES

Miller beautifully sold run and senior Jake Stoneburner sold blocking before slipping into the pass pattern where the sophomore quarterback threw the 'jump pass' for a touchdown.

"We've been working on that play since Coach Meyer got here," Stoneburner said after the game last Saturday. "He said we were going to use it (against Cal) and it's obviously a great play and it came at the perfect time."

"I don't know," Meyer said. "He's got to play some time. I don't know how far that groin is away from the heart. He's hurt, though. I love Mike."

 
 

 

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