COLUMBUS, Ohio >> Braxton Miller is shifting from quarterback to receiver, whittling Ohio State’s QB competition to two star passers.
Miller told SI.com on Thursday night that he plans to start the season in the H-back position and also hopes to return punts. He had surgery to repair of torn labrum in his throwing shoulder before the start of last season and sat out while J.T. Barrett and Cardale Jones led the Buckeyes to their first national title since 2002.
“It’s a long process to get back totally to throwing and throwing every day,” Miller told SI.com. “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.”
Ohio State coach Urban Meyer told The Columbus Dispatch that Miller was premature in talking about his position switch.
“I haven’t made those decisions yet,” Meyer told the newspaper. “It’s a little bit jumping the gun here. Braxton came to see me. He’s been talking to me about it. We’ve been working at it, but I’m not ready to say exactly how we’re going to use him yet.”
With Miller out last season, Barrett led Ohio State to an 11-1 record before breaking his ankle. Jones stepped in and guided the Buckeyes to victories in the Big Ten title game against Wisconsin, the national semifinal against Alabama and the championship game against Oregon.
That left Ohio State looking at a three-man competition for the starting quarterback job, with three players that could start on just about any team in the country. The competition, however, never really got started.
Of the three quarterbacks, Jones was the only one healthy enough to fully take part in spring practice. Barrett progressed well enough that Meyer and his staff had no worries he would be ready to compete come August and preseason practice.
Miller, though, still needed to be cleared by doctors to throw full strength. He tweeted out that he had received a clean bill of health a few weeks back and re-iterated he had no intention of transferring from Ohio State.
The 6-foot-2, 215-pound Miller could have switched schools and played immediately this year as a graduate transfers, but decided to return to Ohio State for a fifth season. He threw 52 touchdown passes in his first three seasons at Ohio State, but it was as a runner that Miller was special. He ran for 3,054 yards and 32 scores and was the Big Ten player of the year in 2012 and 2013.
The H-back in Ohio State’s spread offense is a do-it-all position that combines some receiver and running back duties. The Buckeyes can add Miller to talented group of playmakers that includes running back Ezekiel Elliott, H-Backs Jalin Marshall and Dontre Wilson, and wide receivers Michael Thomas and Corey Smith.
The Buckeyes open at Virginia Tech on Sept. 7 and play Hawaii at home on Sept. 12