It’s been 75 days since the Ohio State Buckeyes were crowned the college football champions, and 74 since the greatest quarterback debate in recent memory began: If you’re Urban Meyer, which of the three mega-stars do you start in 2015?
Will it be Braxton Miller, the former three-year starter that led Ohio State to a 22-2 record from 2012-13 and is arguably the most athletic quarterback in the country? Or how about J.T. Barrett, the freshman sensation that broke Drew Brees’ single-season Big Ten record for total touchdowns with 45 in just 12 games? Maybe the simple answer will be to start Cardale Jones, who was under center for the Buckeyes’ historic conference title game win and College Football Playoff Championship run.
While we’re still likely months away from that final decision – something Meyer has already had nightmares over – another question that has become a by product of the former is what should Miller do with his final year of eligibility?
Let’s face it – Miller, albeit exceptionally talented and hands down a vital asset to the Buckeyes’ early success under Meyer, is the lesser of the three quarterbacks. Undoubtedly the better runner of any of the other options, Miller does not possess the same caliber throwing accuracy/mechanics as Barrett or Jones, which leads me to question just where exactly he fits in the 2015 plan.
Whitfield said Miller did not entertain transfer and is committed to playing QB — and only QB
— Dave Briggs (@DBriggsBlade) February 20, 2015
Miller, still recovering from the shoulder tear he suffered last August, isn’t ready to suit up anytime soon, which is another reason to assume he’ll be behind when it comes to the highly anticipated three-man competition this summer.
But guess what? It’s March. There’s no reason for him to make any kind of life-changing decision for several weeks. And why would he? It’d only make sense for the two-time Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year to sit back and watch everything – including every QB position battle around the country – unfold.
“I’m not Braxton, but being that I do talk to him every day, I think that would be something me and you both be shocked if he was to leave. I think it’s ridiculous honestly,” Barrett said earlier this month, according to Cleveland.com. “Some of the things talking about Braxton leaving Ohio State, I think that’s really silly.”
What would you do if you were in Braxton’s shoes? You see the writing on the wall; either stick around and see time running the offense in special, power-spread packages, probably splitting time with a handful of other receivers sliding into the coveted H-back role, or transfer in June/July to a program that runs a pro style system and has no clear answer at quarterback?
Miller, who graduated in December and is eligible to start immediately for any team following a potential transfer, has started a family, and like any other individual with a good head on their shoulders, wants to make the best decision so that he can financially provide for his loved ones. Taking a business perspective, the ideal route would be to refine his downfield passing abilities in a proven pro offense to increase the chances of a higher-round grade for the 2016 NFL Draft.
If he were to stay in Columbus and spend most minutes coming off the bench, we can assume that his draft stock would have him ending up in the sixth or seventh round as a project selection. (No one wants to take a risk on an injury-prone slotback.) However, making the big-time call to play for a David Cutcliffe, Charlie Strong, or Les Miles could literally pay off by upping his projection to the mid-rounds – a significant change in his contract’s monetary value.
Meyer said he hasn't had any discussion with Braxton Miller about playing a position other than QB. All their talk is about health.
— Bill Rabinowitz (@brdispatch) March 10, 2015
Many Ohio State fans expect Miller to be in a scarlet and gray uniform this season. While that is still a viable possibility, it’s clear that it would be in Miller’s best interest to do otherwise – and they will have to respect that.
Whether it be in the Horseshoe, Death Valley, Wallace Wade Stadium, or some other foreign venue, Braxton Miller’s electrifying talents will be utilized in 2015.
And I will be watching no matter the jersey colors.