For their accomplishments last season, the Buckeyes are up for an ESPY for best team and Miller, who officially announced last week he would be returning to Ohio State for his final season of eligibility, is one of the four players who will represent the team tomorrow night in Los Angeles. It is a well-earned honor according to every player who spoke to the media before departing for California today.
“Without Braxton Miller this team would not be where we are right now – the way that he plays, the way that he leads, the way that he commands an offense and a team,” Cardale Jones said. “He’s not the two-time Big Ten MVP for no reason. Even though we didn’t get a chance to play with him last year, his leadership, his coaching ability was unbelievable last year on the sidelines.”
Jones, Miller’s replacement’s replacement who is nominated for Best Breakthrough Athlete thanks to monster performances in three postseason games, said that the next-man-up mentality of the quarterback room started with the leadership of Miller.
While watching the Buckeyes roll to a national championship without him couldn’t have been easy, Miller was able to maintain a leadership role in part because of his deep affection for Ohio State, something that made his decision not to transfer easy.
“Just being a leader at my position, I always got to lead on and off the field, you know, even if you are not playing,” Miller said. “You got to lead the guys, I’ve been hurt, but you still have to have that leadership role. It feels great. It’s an honor and I respect the guys for bringing me out there to have fun.
“I’m a Buckeye, man. I got a tat on my shoulder. My son is going to come here one day.”
When speaking at a Tedd Ginn Foundation event Friday, head coach Urban Meyer said he was never worried that Miller might transfer and that his importance to the program was never in doubt despite the success of both of his backups.
"Braxton is a very unique guy," said Meyer, who is nominated for the Coach of the Year Espy. "I love Braxton Miller. People forget, I think because of the success last year, what he's meant to our program. I wasn't surprised (he's coming back). I knew this since last January. He's a quiet guy, I guess, so the rumors and all went on and on and on. I kept hearing questions and I was like, 'Where is this coming from?'
"Am I excited that Braxton Miller is coming back? Extremely. He's a very, very talented guy and a good teammate."
Running back Ezekiel Elliott said that he too was not surprised by Braxton’s return – the quarterback’s dedication to the school is too obvious – and that he deserves a chance to represent the team in Los Angeles.
Joshua Perry, the lone defensive player headed to California, echoed those sentiments.
“He’s a big part of our team and a big part of everything we did last year,” Perry said. “He was quiet, but he was definitely a leader. He was always pushing for us, always wanting guys to get better.
“He was always there so it’s big that he is on this trip. I don’t know if we would have, especially towards the end with the quarterback situation, I don’t know that we would have been successful without some of the expertise that he had and what he meant to the guys.”