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It looks like Ohio State’s quarterback competition is down from three to two.
Braxton Miller, a two-time Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year, told Sports Illustrated’s Pete Thamel that he will start the 2015 season as an H-back – a hybrid receiver position. Miller still could play quarterback, but estimated to Thamel that he will play receiver roughly 80 percent of the time during fall camp.
Miller told Thamel that he hasn’t completely healed from the shoulder injury that kept him out for the entire 2014 season.
The idea of switching to wide receiver first came to Ohio State quarterback Braxton Miller in April, when he discussed it with strength coach Mickey Marotti. In May, he brought up the possibility to coach Urban Meyer and the two began watching film of star wide receivers together. Later that month, Miller began sneaking on the practice field at night to catch balls from quarterback J.T. Barrett. Miller kept the potential switch from quarterback to receiver secret, a fallback plan in case he couldn’t return fully healthy to playing quarterback after two shoulder surgeries, the latter which caused him to miss all of last season.
Miller’s fallback plan has become a reality, as he told SI.com on Thursday night that he plans to start the 2015 season playing H-Back—a hybrid receiver position—for the Buckeyes. Miller hasn’t completely closed the door on playing quarterback, as he estimates that he’ll spend 80% of the time during training camp at receiver and 20% with the quarterbacks. But Miller said with more than two months until he’ll be completely healthy at quarterback, he’s approaching this season as primarily a wide receiver.
Even at full strength, the 6-foot-2, 215-pound Miller’s threat to run was always his biggest asset on the field as a quarterback, as evidenced by back-to-back 1,000-yard rushing seasons in 2012 and 2013. Now he’ll get the ball in open space and even return punts.
“For the most part, it’s going to be H-Back and punt return,” Miller told SI. “It’s a long process to get back totally to throwing and throwing every day. This is the smarter thing for right now, God blessed me with a lot of talent and different opportunities. I’m going to have fun with that and still score a lot of touchdowns and help the team out and be dominant at that.
“It’s going to electric. We had a great season last year, but we didn’t see anyone do off-the-wall type stuff. I’m sure guys miss seeing an explosive, 60-yard shake-and-bake run every once in a while.”
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Miller said he has been eyeing the position switch for the past three months, but had the coaching staff and his teammates stay tight-lipped about it in case his shoulder saw significant improvement.
Miller said he has been watching “four hours” of film per day and catching passes from quarterbacks J.T. Barrett and Cardale Jones throughout the summer. Now he is ready to show what he can do.
“I want to be the best at what I do,” Miller said. “Don’t look back. Keep looking forward. I appreciate everyone who supported me and was there for me from when I had surgery until now. I’m ready to put on that Scarlet and Grey and make some highlights.”
Now the Buckeyes' quarterback battle in preseason camp is down to Barrett and Jones. Barrett started the 2014 season as OSU's starter after Miller went down and filled in admirably, throwing for 2,834 yards and 34 touchdowns while also running for 938 yards and 11 scores. When Barrett went down with an injury in the regular season finale against Michigan, Jones stepped up and led the Buckeyes to three straight postseason wins – including a College Football Playoff title over Oregon.
For more Ohio State news, visit BuckeyeGrove.com.
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