Miller Could Be Headed For Meyer Breakout

Urban Meyer admitted numerous times Monday that he was excited to coach Braxton Miller, and the truth of the matter is his hiring appears to be a perfect marriage of quarterback and coach. Meyer has coached dual-threat signal callers to great heights before and could do it again with the one-time five-star prospect.

Braxton Miller might have just hit the lottery.

Ohio State's hiring of Urban Meyer as its head football coach Monday could do more than keep the Buckeyes as one of the titans of the sport; it could be just the thing to make Miller into a star.

The Big Ten's Freshman of the Year, Miller will now be entering an offense that seems tailor-made to take advantage of his skill set.

In fact, Meyer could hardly hide his excitement at his introductory press conference about having the former five-star prospect ready to take over the controls.

"I just met Braxton," Meyer said. "And I wanted to meet Braxton. That was very important. All due respect, everybody in this room, that was the highlight of my day, not this, sitting there shaking hands with that good looking quarterback with a nice smile and a very humble player.

"I watched him play throughout the year. I've watched him compete in the big game. And to say to tell you I'm excited to coach him, I'm not using the correct adjectives. And because there's mixed company around I'm not going to use the correct adjectives, how excited I am.

"So I think you get it, right? Really excited."

And why wouldn't he be? After taking his Huber Heights Wayne team to the Ohio Division I title game last year, Miller showed up at Ohio State and took over the starting job in game four, throwing 11 touchdown passes on the year against four interceptions while running for seven scores.

Miller also was at his best as the season went on, accounting for 13 touchdowns in the last five games – including three while putting up 335 yards of offense and 34 points against Michigan on Saturday in the rivalry game.

"I like the way he throws," Meyer said. "I think he's a ridiculous athlete. But you can stop ridiculous athletes by loading you up. And I like his delivery. We'll have some great conversation throughout spring practice and after spring, but I'm just real excited. I think he could be special."

That's high praise coming from Meyer, whose spread option offense has been tweaked over the years but has always put an emphasis on the quarterback, especially in the red zone. With his throwing offense inspired by the pass-happy Louisville teams of the late 1990s/early 2000s and a running game that drew from both Kansas State (QB runs from Michael Bishop) and Air Force (the option), Meyer was able to create stars of his quarterbacks and point machines out of his teams.

That should likely come as music to the ears of Miller, who went through stretches in 2011 in which he was limited either by youth or the set ways of the team's coaching staff.

"Coach Meyer gives you a unique opportunity as a quarterback in his system to be able to make decisions," Meyer's Bowling Green quarterback, Josh Harris, told "It's high risk, high reward. You're either the hero or you're the goat. If you buy into the system and believe in yourself the way that he believes in you and take the coaching, then it'll end up being all worth it."

The whole thing started with Harris in 2001. Despite sharing time with Andy Sahm that first year, Harris was able to account for 17 touchdowns while throwing only three interceptions on a team that went 8-3.

A year later, Harris was the triggerman for the 9-3 Falcons, putting up an average of 40.8 points per game. The 6-1 Harris ran for 20 touchdowns that season while throwing for 19 more and accounting for more than 3,000 yards.

When Meyer moved on to Utah, he inherited Alex Smith, who he would coach into being the No. 1 draft pick in the 2004 draft. Smith had a solid year in 2003, totaling 20 touchdowns for a 10-2 squad, before blowing up for the undefeated Utes in 2004. Piloting a team that would finish third in the NCAA with 45.3 points per game and blowout Pittsburgh in the Fiesta Bowl, Smith completed 67.5 percent of his passes, threw for 2,952 yards, ran for 631 more and accounted for 42 touchdowns with only four picks.

Meyer next moved on to Florida, where he inherited highly touted dropback quarterback Chris Leak. Rather than make Leak a focal point of the rushing attack, Meyer let him flourish as a passer. In each of his two seasons as the Florida QB, Leak topped the 2,500-yard mark through the air and reached 20 touchdowns while leading the Gators to the national title in 2006.

That year, the running portion of the equation was handled by Tim Tebow, and the freshman ran for eight touchdowns and threw for five more in limited duty. That was just a taste of what was to come as Tebow was unstoppable in 2007, running 210 times, throwing 350 passes, accounting for 55 touchdowns and 4,181 yards and winning the Heisman Trophy.

A year later, Tebow was at it again, helping Florida win the national title and average 43.6 points per game while accounting for 42 more scores. As a senior, Tebow had 35 more touchdowns and 3,805 yards for a squad that lost only once. In all, Tebow was not only Florida's leading rusher in each of his last three seasons, he had twice as many carries as the second player on the team.

The only hiccup on the Meyer road came in his final season at Florida in 2010, as John Brantley threw for nine touchdowns and 10 interceptions and didn't rush for a touchdown, though tight ends/backup QBs Jordan Reed and Trey Burton combined for 16 rushing scores.

As long as Miller stays healthy, though, his numbers should mimic the stars more than those 2010 stats, something Meyer said he took into account when he took the job.

"That's not why you select a job; however, when you are getting ready to make a decision, you do look at that, because you don't have time to really build a program nowadays," Meyer said. "You need to get going and find a way to win."

"And I watched Braxton very close. But what that means – at Bowling Green obviously it meant instant success. Josh was a tailback, converted to quarterback, that ended up being one of the best players I've ever been around.

"Obviously that guy, that little skinny guy at Utah, Alex, is doing fine in the NFL now and a great player, great competitor. And then Chris Leak, what a magical player, and obviously the guy that came behind him.

"So we've been blessed to have some great quarterbacks, and I'm really thinking (Miller) can be – I'm putting a lot of pressure on this cat already, but he's special."

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