For senior Andrew Miller, a repeat of the 2009 battle wouldn't be a bad thing. Miller won the starting job a year ago, thanks in part to a suspension levied to fellow LT contender Mike Adams, and started the first three games before illness helped derail what could have been a special season for the former tight end prospect. A battle with the flu and then later a virus not only cost Miller 25-30 pounds but also put him back into a battle with junior Mike Adams for the starting job this August.
Miller has regained the weight – checking in around 300 pounds as of Sunday's photo day – and never lost his confidence.
"I feel with all my heart that that's who I am," Miller said of being the starting left tackle. "I want that spot. I want to be the guy."
Miller's problems last season started when he fell ill with influenza early in the season. After starting the first three games of the season, Miller split time with Adams against Illinois, and did not play at all in Ohio State's next three games games of the season against Indiana, Wisconsin and Purdue, respectively.
While the Buckeyes were battling the Hoosiers, Badgers and Boilermakers, Miller was bed-ridden and battled the flu – and the blues.
"To be honest, I got real sad," Miller said. "When I started to become sick I just became really sad. I wasn't thinking about my health. The first thing that came to mind was, ‘What's going to happen with football?' I wasn't even thinking about anything else.
"I should have been thinking about classes and other stuff, but I couldn't stop thinking about football. It was devastating for me for sure, but God works in mysterious ways."
Miller's major weight loss did not solely come from the flu but also because of a virus that compounded his health issues.
"It attacked me because my immune system was already down," Miller said. "I couldn't eat anything. I couldn't drink anything. I went probably five or six days not eating a thing. I just couldn't. I tried to get at least a bottle of water down a day, but even that was hard."
Once returning to the Woody Hayes Athletic Center, Miller worked on getting his strength back in hopes of returning to the field, something he did Oct. 24 vs. Minnesota. Miller may have returned to the field but the Washington, Pa., native did not start again. By the time he returned Jimmy Cordle had taken over the left tackle job, which the senior held for the final six games of the season.
Now Miller hopes to re-earn the starting job he won last year. It will be an uphill battle, as Adams impressed in the spring and was the No. 1 left tackle as preseason camp opened. Ohio State head coach Jim Tressel did say other candidates, like Miller, will get an opportunity to run with the No. 1 line during preseason practices, however.
And just to make sure he won't repeat history, Miller said he'll be the first in line when it comes to flu shots.
"You better believe it," Miller said. "They gave a shot for the regular flu and the H1N1 flu last year, and whichever one I didn't get is what I got.
"I'll get whatever they offer this year."
As for the battle with Adams, the rest of the Ohio State linemen said they would be fine with whoever ends up winning the battle.
"There's a couple of weeks left in camp, and we'll see who will be there for the first game," junior center Michael Brewster said. "But I have confidence in both guys."
Confidence is something Miller certainly is not lacking.
"I have all the confidence in the world now," Miller said. "I want to be that guy when we start on Sept. 2."