Miller's Growth Evident To Meyer

A year ago, Urban Meyer was in the Ohio Stadium press box calling Ohio State's season-opener for ESPN, during which he said Braxton Miller would be his quarterback. Now, he's made good on that statement and given his complete trust in the sophomore. Is Miller ready to lead Meyer's spread offense? Find out inside.

Urban Meyer spent all of last season outside of coaching, but Ohio State's new boss admitted he took every opportunity he could to find a way to watch Braxton Miller play.

Even before he knew he'd coach the quarterback in his sophomore season with the Buckeyes, Meyer was naturally drawn to Miller's inherent ability to make plays.

Now just a day away from coaching the game he has waited his entire life to coach, Meyer knows the success of his newly inherited football team will rest on the shoulders of the talented, yet youthful, playmaker.

"Braxton has come a million miles," said Meyer, pointing to the tangible growth he's seen from the quarterback. "I think he's fairly comfortable. Our goal is to make him not an athlete playing quarterback but a quarterback that's very athletic."

A year ago, Miller wasn't a quarterback. Sure, he started at the position for the Buckeyes for most of the season, but he was merely an immensely athletic freshman thrust into a difficult – and unexpected – situation.

When Miller committed to Ohio State as a five-star prospect from Huber Heights (Ohio) Wayne, the quarterback expected to back-up former Buckeye Terrelle Pryor while being eased into college football slowly. Pryor, however, left the program early after becoming involved in off-the-field issues that eventually shortened his Buckeye career.

Though Miller would never admit it, he was thrown into a situation he probably wasn't ready for. Meyer alluded to the immense pressure that situation likely made for the young Miller, but that season could prove to be the invaluable foundation for what turns out to be a very productive Ohio State career.

Miller's growth was palpable as the season progressed – perhaps culminating in the biggest moment of the season when Miller hit wide receiver Devin Smith on a last-minute touchdown pass to beat Wisconsin in Ohio Stadium – but the entire body of work is far from what Meyer deems acceptable.

In his first interactions with the Miller-led offense in the spring, Meyer was blunt about its inadequacy, referring to the unit as a "clown show." But that was months ago, and the anticipation for what the offense is capable of is at an all-time high as the Buckeyes put the final touches on their game plan for the Redhawks.

"I'm going to do everything right, and if I mess up, I'm just going to watch it on film," Miller said. "I love the pressure. It makes me go a little bit harder."

It's good that Miller loves the pressure – there will be plenty of it.

Miller is the perfect fit for Meyer's spread offense, but maturation is crucial if he's going to be successful. Meyer said he has the natural physical gifts to succeed, but it's whether he grasps the every-down intricacies of the offense – and the decision making that comes with leading the complex unit – that will be the deciding factor on how his sophomore season goes.

"I just feel like myself," Miller said after Tuesday's practice, something that wasn't true for the majority of last season. That's exactly what Meyer wanted to hear, though the head coach has to be anticipating growing pains with his newly installed offense.

Perhaps the most important thing Meyer has looked from his quarterback is an insatiable desire to be the leader and command what's his. That wasn't always the case a year ago, as Miller admitted to being bashful about taking command of the offense.

"I was just coming in as a freshman, out of high school, and it's kind of hard to get the upperclassmen to understand where you're coming from," Miller said.

That hasn't been the case during the offseason, though. Miller's growth as a team leader as been apparent, especially because Meyer has been on the quarterback about it "every day." That constant reminder seems to be working.

"He improved everything," junior wide receiver Philly Brown said. "He is a hard worker. He is probably one of the hardest workers on our team. He talks the most and he's the leader of the offense, along with the center, so he has to be the most vocal."

A year ago, Meyer was in the Ohio Stadium press box calling Ohio State's season-opener for ESPN, during which he said Miller would be his quarterback. Now, he's made good on that statement and given his complete trust in the sophomore.

"He's the most dynamic athlete I've ever coached at quarterback," Meyer said of Miller. "What I just said, people should go, 'Whoa,' and he is. And really by far. I mean, that's how good of an athlete he is."

Whether he's a quarterback yet remains to be seen.

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