As five-star quarterback prospect Braxton Miller was set to make his college announcement, his head coach manned the podium and addressed the crowd.
"I just wanted to tell everybody that Braxton's got cold feet and has decided to postpone this conference," Wayne head coach Jay Minton said, pausing for a second. "Nah, just kidding."
Three years ago, the nation watched as Pryor, a five-star quarterback prospect did not select a school on National Signing Day. After continuing to debate his options for another month, Pryor eventually signed with the Buckeyes and will be entering his junior season in Columbus.
For a moment, it appeared history would repeat itself. Only this time it was a joke, and the nation's top quarterback prospect was issuing a verbal commitment to the Buckeyes.
"I just wanted to get it out of the way and get the pressure off my chest," Miller said. "The recruiting process was real nice but I just wanted to settle down and be committed to my school. Now the fans can get hyped."
Seated behind a table in an auditorium at his high school, Miller and his parents took the stage at 18 minutes past noon. Miller's first words were an apology for the late arrival.
The audience of teachers, friends and family members did not seem to mind. Situated in front of him were five hats representing his five finalists. From left to right, they read Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Notre Dame and Ohio State.
After thanking Minton for helping him get to this level, Miller began eliminating hats. First to go was Notre Dame, followed by Georgia and Alabama. Pausing for a second, Miller then picked up the white OSU hat and instead of discarding it placed it firmly on his head as cameras flashed, applause rang out from around the auditorium and the OSU fight song played.
The decision had come down to the Buckeyes and the Gators, but it was about as close as the final score when the two teams met for the 2007 national championship. This time, though, OSU prevailed.
"I just wanted to play football through all my years (in high school) without worrying about college right now," he said. "It came to the point that I did the research and Ohio State came out as my top school so I wanted to get my commitment out of the way."
After Miller put on his OSU hat, Minton joked, "grab those hats – we don't want him to change his mind."
The final decision was made about two weeks ago, Miller said, but the framework was laid years ago when he camped at OSU as an eighth-grader. The Buckeyes offered him a scholarship during his sophomore season.
On the eve of the press conference, Miller made a visible commitment to the OSU program by getting a large Block ‘O' tattoo on his left shoulder. He might not be able to sign a national letter-of-intent until next year, but he already has ink for the Buckeyes.
"When I decided I was going to commit I was like, it's the college I like, I'm in Ohio," he said. "I can't do anything wrong with that."
Asked if he would've gotten a big ‘F' on his shoulder had he picked the Gators, Miller laughed and said, "Nah, I'm from Ohio, man."
Listed at 6-3½, 199 pounds, Miller is the nation's top quarterback at his position as ranked by Scout.com. As a junior, he completed 53 percent of his passes for 1,091 yards and nine touchdowns and rushed for 467 yards and 18 scores. He will be a four-year starter for Minton.
A dual-threat quarterback, he has been described as being similar to Pryor, who enters his junior season as a candidate for the Heisman Trophy.
The plan for Miller is to graduate early and enroll for courses at OSU in January.
"A lot of people are going to look at him and say that he's a Buckeye," Minton said. "What I told him about that was, ‘Now your mistakes are going to be disappointments and your successes are going to be expectations because people now are going to expect you to succeed. If you don't' succeed, there's going to be a lot of disappointed people out there.
"With all that said, I don't know that a lot of young men can do what he's doing early like this and still focus on their senior season but I think you'll see him do it. He's exception with things like that. Any time he's competing, he does a great job of competing."
Miller was recruited by the majority of the OSU coaching staff, but his primary contacts were head coach Jim Tressel and quarterbacks coach Nick Siciliano. Midway through his junior year, Miller said the Buckeyes told him they would not offer a scholarship to another quarterback in his class unless they felt like they were not going to land him.
It left an impression on Miller.
"I wasn't going to let them (offer someone else) because they only offered one quarterback and that was me," he said. "I was like, ‘That's a blessed opportunity right there.' "
Upon his arrival in Columbus, Miller said OSU fans can expect big things.
"Once I get there and start to shine at Ohio State, we're going to win a national championship," he said. "I know Coach Tress and Coach Siciliano will get me prepared."
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