Miller Hopes To Lock Down Spot

Ohio State's offensive line will look different in 2009, and one of the positions under construction is left tackle. Although many fans have anointed Mike Adams as the starter, junior Andy Miller is looking forward to his chance to win the job after splitting time there this spring.

Andy Miller knows that, from the outside, he is the dark horse in a two-man race for playing time. A converted tight end from Washington (Pa.) Trinity, Miller began his Ohio State career in 2006 but was eventually moved to offensive tackle during the 2007 season.

Now as fall camp gets underway for the Buckeyes, the 6-6, 279-pound Miller is bent on landing the starting left tackle spot this season. Standing in his way is Mike Adams, a former five-star prospect who hails from central Ohio and has been anointed by the Buckeye faithful as the heir apparent to Alex Boone, a three-year starter at the position.

But after two seasons of work with the offensive line, Miller knows this is his chance to become the man at the left tackle spot.

"I've been looking forward more to this camp than I have to any other camp just because it's so real right now," he told BuckeyeSports.com. "Every season the goal is to become a guy somewhere but it's more definite now. This is the spot and I plan on being that guy."

Although he was listed by Scout.com as a three-star offensive lineman coming out of high school, Miller was targeted as a tight end by the OSU coaching staff. On National Signing day in 2006, recruiting coordinator and tight ends coach John Peterson talked about how landing both Miller and 6-6½, 255-pound Jake Ballard gave the Buckeyes two big blockers for multiple-tight end sets. As late as fall camp in 2007, Peterson insisted that Miller's future in Columbus was at the tight end position.

A few weeks into the 2007 season, however, Peterson confirmed that Miller had been moved to the offensive line. The move was one that was tough to swallow at first, Miller said.

"It was a shock at first, like, ‘Wow, I've been doing this for a year. Is it all for nothing?' " Miller said. "I don't really look at it like that now, but it was a little bit of a shock. I took it and I'm happy with it now."

The decision to move positions came, Miller said, when he sat down with Peterson and offensive line coach Jim Bollman and looked at the numbers at each position. After redshirting as a true freshman, Miller worked as a backup during the 2007 season and saw his first game action in the 2008 season opener against Youngstown State.

After seeing a total of 33 minutes' worth of playing time spread over 12 games as the reserve left guard, Miller entered the spring of 2009 ready to battle for a starting spot.

That put him eye-to-eye with the 6-8, 322-pound Adams, who played in five games as a true freshman and accumulated a total of 19 minutes of game action.

"(Bollman) pulled us aside (before spring) and said, ‘I want you guys going with the ones every other day,' " Miller said. "What was supposed to happen was if one guy starts to emerge more than the other, he'd take the spot. He wanted us to get a lot of reps with the ones."

When the seniors drafted players for the spring game, Miller was selected ahead of Adams. A native of nearby Dublin (Ohio) Coffman, Adams left that program rated the No. 2 offensive tackle prospect in the country. Along with teammate Jake Stoneburner, who also committed to the Buckeyes in 2008, Adams was targeted for immediate success by fans who follow recruiting but was sidelined by shoulder and foot injuries.

When Tressel told reporters prior to the Michigan State game that Adams was out for the rest of the 2008 season, he mentioned Miller as a player who would have to fill his shoes.

Miller, a junior, said he is ready for the challenge.

"Mike gets a lot of credit and a lot of press for being the guy he was in high school and he's for-sure a player now," he said. "He works hard and he's a real likable kid. I understand why the media loves him so much. As far as I'm concerned, I'm just worried about being the left tackle and I'm not really worried about anything else."

At the tail end of spring practice, Bollman said he was feeling fairly confident with all of the spots on the line minus the left tackle spot. As Miller and Adams alternated throughout the spring, both showed flashes of promise but neither was able to put a firm grip on the job.

Senior Jim Cordle, who enters fall camp as the right tackle, said the most important thing for either Miller or Adams to do is be consistent.

"They both showed flashes, but neither one of them was consistent the whole time," Cordle said. "That's always the thing Coach Bolls always says: we've got to be consistent and we've got to have trust that you'll go out there and do your job every play."

Looking back on the film from the spring, Miller said he feels he took steps forward in that arena.

"Commenting on my own performance, I made very few mistakes mentally, which is very important on the offensive line," he said. "Coach Tressel has told me that numerous times: you have to be good on every play. There can be no missteps."

The lone mental breakdown Miller said he could recall came on the last play of the last practice of the spring when there was a miscommunication regarding a gap assignment.

"It wasn't too big of a deal, but it was a big deal for me," he said.

Although Miller said he learned a lot through his spring experiences, fall camp is a different animal. In less than one month, the Buckeyes will open the regular season against Navy and someone will start at left tackle.

His obvious hope is that the person is him.

"It's going to come down to who's going to be the guy," he said. "I'm excited for that. When we open up against Navy I plan to be the guy on the far left."


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