Little did Miller know the first thing he’d have to get used to is just how much effort it would take to play his new position.
“After the second day I’m like, ‘I don’t know how y’all do this,’ ” Miller joked when speaking at Ohio State’s Sunday media day. “We wear a (GPS tracker) and it shows how many miles we run in practice. I run four miles a day and I’m like, ‘Wow.’ I barely run a mile playing quarterback.”
That isn’t a huge surprise to head coach Urban Meyer, a former receivers coach himself.
“As a receiver you line up and you run for two hours,” Meyer said “As a quarterback you don't run. You run for maybe four or five minutes at practice, and you're doing other things. He went through some muscle tightness. He's fine. But we're being cautious.”
That’s not to say the converted quarterback and two-time Big Ten MVP is totally giving up on throwing the ball. Meyer, who said at Big Ten Media Days that he’s been doodling plays during the offseason in which Miller could pass out of his receiver spot, said Sunday that Miller’s surgically repaired shoulder will be tested this year a few times – a thought that should leave opposing defensive coordinators in a cold sweat.
The same could be said of the fact Miller was going through drills the other day in the backfield running the option along with Cardale Jones. In other words, there are plenty of options and ways to use the senior’s God-given skill and elusiveness.
“Yeah, I’m gonna be in the backfield, too,” he said. “I was in the backfield a couple of times with Cardale. I was in the backfield yesterday with J.T. during the scrimmage at running back and then at wideout when Zeke came in. It’s like playing a video game. You can put anybody anywhere.”
Miller told Sports Illustrated the thought to move to wide receiver was originally his Plan B and something that was brought on by the fact the shoulder wouldn’t be ready for full-time quarterback use through camp. He said Sunday he’s taken a few hits on the shoulder and that it has passed with flying colors, though Meyer said the team is still a little reticent to unleash Miller in the passing game.
“We want to make sure that shoulder is healed,” Meyer said. “We were going to run a double pass the other day and I want to make sure he's ready to go throw it, too, so we're going to keep throwing him this week, too, because that's going to be that weapon that can do that as well as what he can do. God forbid all of a sudden he throws that darned thing and something happens. I just want to make sure he's ready.”
When Miller is ready, he figures to be a dangerous addition to the Buckeyes group at the “H” wideout spot. In three years as the Buckeyes’ starting quarterback, Miller ran for 3,054 yards, passed for 5,292 more and was part of a combined 84 touchdowns.
With such ability, not to mention his celebrated skills when it comes to running the ball, Miller seems like a natural at wide receiver. He has had help from varied sources, including teammate Mike Thomas and such former Buckeyes stars as Cris Carter and Joey Galloway.
“It is fun,” he said of the transition. “It felt like when I was growing up just playing all the different positions, having fun, getting the ball. Just enjoying football.”
As for enjoying football, another part of that could be the ability to make big plays and put points on the board.
“Just catching the ball already on the second or third level, all you’ve got to do is make one person miss and it’s off to the races,” he said.
Now the work gets more serious for Miller and the Buckeyes, who have eight practice sessions in the next five days. Meyer said this will be an important week for Miller, who he expects to contend for a starting role, especially with Jalin Marshall and Dontre Wilson suspended for the first game.
“This is a big week for him, so we introduced him, he did very good,” Meyer said. “And I'm anxious, as he is, to get going and get a starting spot.”
Whether Miller earns a starting spot, he figures to be a major part of the Buckeyes attack going forward. And for someone who a year ago was perhaps at his lowest point as an athlete after his second shoulder injury, that’s good enough for Miller.
“Of course, man. I’m blessed,” Miller said. “Some people don’t come back from certain types of surgeries. I came back from the second one and I’m fortunate enough that God blessed me with the ability I can play any position on the field and I just pray every night I have a healthy season, protect me throughout practice and things like that.”