Now with just a week to go before Ohio State’s 2015 season opener against Virginia Tech, Buckeye head coach Urban Meyer said Miller “has been outstanding” in recent practices as he adjusts to his new workload.
“The whole idea of his body getting used to basically a track practice every day is taking root, so he had a really good two days,” Meyer said during a Monday press conference.
The fourth-year Ohio State coach added that Miller has begun to look more like a fluid wide receiver and H-back after his initial “what the heck is this” reaction to the amount of running.
Meyer stopped short of saying Miller is ahead of the curve at his new position, and stressed that it takes more than simply writing WR next to his name on the roster.
“It’s rather comical when I heard ‘just play him at receiver or go put him at corner,’” Meyer said. “It usually takes a year and a half to play receiver to do it correctly.”
As a quarterback, Miller rushed for 3,054 yards and 32 touchdowns before missing the 2014 season, and he was named the Big Ten MVP, Offensive Player of the Year and Quarterback of the Year two times each.
He announced his intentions to play receiver as a fifth-year senior in July, making the change after recovering from two shoulder surgeries that have kept him out of action since Ohio State’s Orange Bowl loss to Clemson in 2014.
Now at a new position, Miller’s All-Big Ten pedigree could spark Ohio State’s receiving corps, offensive coordinator Ed Warinner said, especially with multiple players out due to suspension, and taking into account Noah Brown’s season-ending leg injury.
When asked who could fill in for Brown this season, and for suspended receivers Jalin Marshall, Corey Smith and Dontre Wilson for the Virginia Tech game on Sept. 7 in Blacksburg, Va., Warinner went straight to Miller as a top option.
“(The) former Big Ten Player of the Year is doing well out there, we like him,” Warinner said Monday. “He’s just an athlete out there. Braxton has looked good and is really growing into that position (and) had a great attitude about learning it.”
Fifth-year senior tight end Nick Vannett said he agreed with Warinner that Miller will be a key component in the Buckeyes’ passing game right away.
“Every day he’s improving at being a receiver,” Vannett said Monday. “His hands have gotten better. He’s never really done that before but he’s going out there and taking his role seriously and I think he’s going to be a huge factor in this game.”
Now with a matter of days to go before his first start at a new position, and his first game action in well over a year, Miller’s growth at receiver has him just about ready to run, Meyer said.
“As of the last three days, he’s, I don’t want to say exceeded my expectation, but he’s darn near ready to go,” he said.