Starting As Freshman Is Never Easy

It is not that unusual for a freshman to play for the Ohio State football game. It is a little more rare for a freshman to start, however, and even more so for a quarterback. Braxton Miller's teammates know how difficult it is to come in and earn a starting job, especially at QB.

Both junior fullback Zach Boren and senior center Michael Brewster know how hard it is to start as freshmen for the Ohio State football team. They also know that starting at quarterback for the Buckeyes during your first year on campus is an even tougher challenge.

Many Ohio State fans are clamoring for Braxton Miller to take over as the top signal caller Saturday afternoon against Colorado. He very well might, but if he does it would be wise to remember that Miller's learning curve remains steep, as it is for all freshmen starters regardless of the position. If Miller does lead the offense on its first drive against the Buffaloes, he will become only the third true freshman to start at QB for the Buckeyes – joining Art Schlichter (1978) and Terrelle Pryor (2008).

"I couldn't even imagine," Boren said when asked on Tuesday what it would be like to start at quarterback as a freshman. "At quarterback you have to know what everyone is doing at every single moment."

Boren took over as the No. 1 fullback as a freshman in 2009, taking over the spot vacated by the graduation of Brandon Smith. Boren beat out fellow freshman Adam Homan for the spot and started five games.

He remembers just how hard he had to work to get the starting nod.

"You have to fight," he said. "You have to come in to camp and they are going to put you on scout team, but you have to fight every single play. When you can make plays against the starting defense that sends messages to the coaches. That goes a long way."

It's not just the physical battle that determines whether a freshman will get on the field, either. The mental aspect of the game is also something a new collegiate player needs to adjust to.

"You have to put in that extra work in the film room to know what is going on because the biggest difference from high school to college is definitely the mental part of the game," Boren said.

Brewster also knows that the part of the battle to find the field as a freshman is one that happens between the ears. The leader of the much-heralded "Brew Crew" recruiting class of 2008 started the last 10 games of his freshman season after sitting behind senior Jim Cordle for the first three games of the year. When Cordle moved to left guard because of injuries on the offensive line, Brewster's time came. He's remained the starting center ever since.

"It can be frustrating sometimes (to sit), especially because most of us come out of high school being the man from their school or being highly recruited," Brewster said. "If you're not playing, it's hard and you kind of have to just stick with it. Everybody goes through it. It's just really hard."

Brewster probably has the best point of view on the team when it comes to Miller. Not only did he start along with Pryor as freshmen in 2008 but also knows how difficult a task it is to process everything a first-year college quarterback, having been close to Pryor when he took over for Todd Boeckman.

"It's hard because, like center, you have to know a lot of information," Brewster said. "It is a lot to learn."

Both Boren and Brewster said Miller is doing the best he can to become a good collegiate quarterback. Miller looked like a freshman against Miami (Fla.), completing only 2 of 4 passes for 22 yards with an interception and a lost fumble. Still, he has not lost the confidence of his teammates.

They know how difficult Miller's task is.

"He has looked frazzled at times, but I wouldn't say that's a bad thing just because he is trying to get everything right," Boren said. "He has gone out there and put in an effort to make sure everything is called right and everything and he gets the right message across.

"When he is frazzled, that's when the older guys step in. you know, I have stepped in and just helped him out. After someone helps him out, he's completely fine and can just think about his job."

Added Brewster: "It's not going to be smooth sailing all of the time for him, but so far he's doing the best he can. … We all make mistakes. Nobody's perfect. I know I've made plenty of mistakes, still do to this day. You just have to keep him confident and keep moving forward."

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