Yes, all the Ohio State players available at Big Ten Media Days in Chicago Thursday thought that Miller would be a dynamic threat in the hybrid position that will allow him to get the ball in his hands in space. That’s hardly surprising considering Miller does have 3,054 rushing yards in three seasons at Ohio State – the seventh most in the storied history of the program.
But really Taylor Decker, Joshua Perry and Adolphus Washington can’t say for sure how productive Miller will be learning a new position. Urban Meyer said that Miller would be "an impact player", but even the coach can only gather so much from his crystal ball before camp opens for the Buckeyes Aug. 10.
What is certain, however, is the message that the position switch sends to the rest of the roster.
“You’ve got to have a lot of respect for him to be able to humble himself to change positions because obviously he’s been a quarterback his entire career,” Decker said. “That would be tough for a guy to basically say I’m going to do what’s best for the team not what’s best for myself and switch positions like that.
“I think that’s a good message for anybody, you know, a guy going in to his senior year to not have too big of an ego to kind of lower himself and serve the team, do what’s best for the team. I think it will be great for him.”
Miller was a captain for the Buckeyes last season, and the move out from under center was at least partially driven by a still-recovering throwing shoulder, so maybe the switch of positions shouldn’t be surprising. Still, talking the talk and walking the walk are two different animals and the decision to commit to running routes and catching passes before fall camp starts shows that Miller is willing to do both.
While nothing would have been guaranteed had he remained a quarterback, despite winning two Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year awards at the position, the H-back position is nearly as uncertain for Miller. Though the seas have parted a bit with the suspensions of Jalin Marhsall and Dontre Wilson for the season opener, Miller will have to contend with those players for snaps upon their return and Noah Brown and Curtis Samuel in the meantime. All of those players have more experience at the position, and thus the inside track on the former quarterback.
For those reasons and more, the position change hit home with teammates.
“Sometimes you’ve got to do what’s best for the team,” Washington said. “It’s just about being selfless.”
Miller won’t make the switch full time until camp opens – and maybe not even then as Meyer has said that he will work with the quarterbacks 20 percent of the time – but the fifth-year senior has been doing position-specific conditioning and individual receiver drills this offseason.
Decker said even the way he went about that process has been selfless.
“I don’t think he wanted to draw a lot of attention to it, which I think was the right way to approach it. He’s been working at receiver in the offseason,” the lineman said. “Obviously that’s headline material right there. When he was ready and when the team was ready to announce it, it was announced.
“It’s awesome to see a guy who has had such a successful career, such a big name who has been a Heisman contender to say, ‘I’m going to lower myself and I’m going to do what’s best for the team.’ I think that makes him a good role model for incoming guys, for younger guys.”