Wednesday, June 9, 2010
Ohio State Buckeyes Wednesday
10 Things We Learned About Braxton Miller
By Brandon Castel
On Thursday Braxton Miller brought delight to Ohio State fans everywhere by selecting the Buckeyes over offers from Florida, Alabama, Georgia, Notre Dame and over 30 other schools. Considered one of the top two quarterbacks in the country by nearly every talent evaluator, Miller gives the Buckeyes a bright future under center after Terrelle Pryor.
There wasn't nearly as much hype and hoopla surrounding Miller's commitment, but there was still plenty to be learned from his press conference at Huber Heights Wayne High School where he enters his fourth season as the starting quarterback.
1. His final three were Ohio State, Florida and Notre Dame. When Braxton Miller sat down at the table for his official announcement ceremony Thursday there were five hats in front of him. It was a fairly typical move for a high-profile high school player of this caliber. Three belonged to the SEC: Alabama, Florida and Georgia, with the other two belonging to Ohio State and Notre Dame. The home-state Buckeyes had long been considered the favorites to land the star quarterback, but who else was in the running?
"Florida was in the running. And Notre Dame," Miller said.
"Florida came in a little bit late, going into my senior season. It was not that tough. They had me under pressure, but I pulled it out to be an Ohio State Buckeye."
Wonder what kind of pressure they had him under.
2. Miller was always going to be a Buckeye. Despite that pressure from Urban Meyer and the Gators, Florida finished a distant, distant second to Jim Tressel and the Buckeyes. Tressel offered Miller during his sophomore year at Wayne, and Ohio State has been hot after him ever since. They made it clear he was their guy and Miller admits he felt all along as though Ohio State was his team.
"It just reminded me of my hometown. And it all fits my comfort and I'd just like to be there and be a part of that team. I liked them a lot," he said.
"I just wanted to get it out of the way and get it off my chest and get the pressure out of the way. The recruiting process was really nice, but I just wanted to settle down and be committed to my school."
3. Troy Smith had a lot to do with that. Because he's a dual-threat quarterback and one of the top-rated prospects in the country out of high school, Miller is already drawing comparisons to Ohio State's current signal caller Terrelle Pryor. Both are big, fast, strong-armed quarterbacks, but it's another Buckeye quarterback who first drew Miller's attention for his dual-threat ability.
"I just watched Troy Smith, because what they did with him I really liked," the 6-foot-3 Miller said.
After starting his career as a run-first quarterback, Smith developed into one of the most deadly accurate passers in the country as a senior. He won the Heisman Trophy that season while guiding the Buckeyes to the BCS National Championship game, and Miller sees himself more in that pass first, run second mold.
"My arm has got strength and I can do damage with that, and also my legs. I can do a lot of damage, so we'll see when I get there," said Miller, who appears to be further along as a passer than Pryor was heading into his senior season at Jeannette.
4. So did Terrelle Pryor. For those wondering if Pryor has progressed enough in his first two seasons at Ohio State, look no further than Braxton Miller. Both he and his coach have seen enough growth out of Pryor, especially his performance in the Rose Bowl, to believe that coach Tressel and quarterbacks coach Nick Siciliano are capable of developing him into an elite-level quarterback.
"They won't put their guys in a bad position," Wayne Head Coach Jay Minton said.
"They allow them to develop and they teach them along the way. They build a great foundation for them and I think they really, truly get them ready for the next level."
5. Braxton is Tressel's kind of recruit. Apologies to all of the old schoolers out there who still can't understand what would possess a 17 year old kid to bring five hats to the podium before selecting the one that represents his college choice, but Braxton Miller is exactly what Jim Tressel looks for in a recruit. If being around the program all the time wasn't enough to show his passion for the university, Miller put his passion for being a Buckeye on display Thursday by rolling up his left sleeve to reveal a freshly added Block O tattoo on his left shoulder.
Along with his passion for Ohio State, Miller unintentionally put his character on display Thursday as well. The Buckeyes made it very clear that he was their guy at the quarterback position in this class, and refused to even extend another offer to a quarterback until it became clear Miller might take his services elsewhere. With that kind of power, Miller could have dragged this thing out for months. He could have conjured up the kind of drama that captures national headlines, especially with an offer list like his. He could have played the game a lot longer, holding out for a triumphant announcement at the U.S. Army All-American game in January, or even National Signing Day in February. Instead, he respected the OSU coaching staff enough to make his public announcement eight months before the unofficial deadline.
6. There's no going back from here. Some might wonder if such an early commitment might leave the door open for coaches like Urban Meyer, Brian Kelly and Nick Saban to come knocking on Miller's door. If his Block O tattoo isn't enough proof that those kinds of attempts would be futile, his high school coach made it clear that Miller won't be reconsidering his commitment or taking any more visits.
"That's one of our rules here," Minton said.
"We don't tell them where to go, but we do ask that when they commit, they've done all of their homework."
7. He wants to play early. While Miller has been an Ohio State lean for quite some time, a big factor in his college choice was the ability to play early in his career. He is obviously aware that Terrelle Pryor has two remaining years of eligibility, but Miller is accustomed to forcing his way on to the field early in his career.
As a true freshman at Wayne High School, Miller joined a team that already had a returning junior as the starting quarterback. They tried him at wide receiver and safety, but it wasn't long before coach Minton realized what he had in Miller was something special.
"I'm going to come in and just do what I can do, and if I do get a chance to play, I'm going to show out just like I did as a freshman here," said Miller, who plans to graduate early and enroll at Ohio State in January.
8. He wants to be great. It might sound boastful of Miller to think he can come in and earn some playing time with Pryor still on the roster, but that's simply a sign of how great he wants to be.
"There's an old saying that goes, 'Good is evil being great', and he wants to be great, so he can't let good get in the way," Minton said of his senior quarterback.
9. He wants to be a passer. We mentioned earlier how Miller wants to emulate Troy Smith with his game, and his coach echoed those sentiments on announcement day.
"That's the thing that he wants to transition into, where people look at him as a quarterback and not so much as an 'athletic guy', because that doesn't get you anywhere in his future," Minton said hinting at Miller's aspirations to play quarterback at the NFL level.
"He really wants to be at quarterback and be able to distribute the ball and everything, and do what he can to run an offense."
10. The Buckeyes are done at QB for 2011. The Buckeyes may end up adding Glenville's Cardale Jones to this recruiting class, but if they do it won't be as a quarterback. While Miller certainly doesn't appear to be scared of competition, one big reason he decided to pull the trigger on his announcement so early was Ohio State's commitment to making him their one quarterback in the class of 2011. At 6-foot-5, Jones is an interesting prospect at a number of possible positions, but he would have to come in realizing he may never get a shot to line up under center at Ohio State. That's going to be a tough sell considering he holds offers from Penn State, Michigan, Iowa, Illinois and West Virginia to play the quarterback position.
Nebraska, Mizzou weigh options to Join Big Ten
by Andy Katz
Nebraska's decision on whether to commit long term to the Big 12 or leave for a potential Big Ten invitation could come on Friday, a school told ESPN.com's Andy Katz on Tuesday.
The source said the school is leaning toward the Big Ten, but an invitation hadn't yet been extended, and there was no indication when that would occur. The consensus within the athletic department is that Nebraska wouldn't separate itself from the Big 12 without some assurance that a Big Ten invitation would come, the source said. The Big Ten has set no date for any announcement in the coming weeks, leaving open the possibility that Nebraska could be left in limbo.
Sources at two other Big 12 schools told the Omaha World-Herald that their athletic directors have instructed them to be ready by week's end for a briefing on probable Big 12 changes.
Earlier this week, the Big 12 imposed a deadline of Friday for Nebraska and Missouri to state their intentions on whether they intend to bolt the conference, with the possibility of an extension for a decision by next Tuesday, The Austin American-Statesman reported, citing two sources.
The Big 12's university presidents decided on imposing the ultimatum, two highly placed officials within two of the conference schools said, according to the newspaper.
The Nebraska Board of Regents plans to meet on Friday, though it's not immediately clear if that governing board will discuss conference affiliation, in public or private.
But public records provided to the Associated Press show that the topic is far from off limits. In a brief e-mail to Chancellor Harvey Perlman sent on April 20, athletic director Tom Osborne urges his boss to set up a meeting to discuss conference expansion.
Osborne said he requested the meeting after speaking with his friend and colleague, Ohio State football coach Jim Tressel. The Buckeyes coach was in Lincoln one day earlier to speak at a Fellowship of Christian Athletes banquet.
On his monthly appearance on the Husker Sports Network Tuesday, Osborne offered confirmation that the timetable on national conference realignment has been accelerated.
"I think before too long -- I don't know exactly what that timeframe is -- we'll be able to put this to bed." Then he jokingly added, "because I'm getting tired of it."
Big 12 school presidents and athletic directors concluded a four-day meeting in Kansas City last week with no clear sense -- at least publicly -- that the 14-year-old league will survive.
Assistant commissioner Bob Burda said Tuesday that the Big 12 is done talking about expansion and conference realignment, for now anyway.
"There will be no further comment from the conference," he told the AP. "We're in a quiet period right now."
The Big Ten announced late last year it is considering adding at least one school, and possibly more, to add a league championship game in football and broaden the reach of its cable television network. Its decision has created a ripple throughout the power conferences, causing the Pac-10 to mull its own expansion and threatening the survival of the Big 12, which in addition to Missouri and Nebraska could also lose as many as six schools to a 16-team Pac-10.
"There's a lot of information we really don't have right now," Osborne said. "Hopefully we'll get these put together in the next few days.
"Anything I would say regarding Nebraska's position or other schools in the Big 12 would be pure speculation. And I don't think that's very helpful."
University of Missouri curators appear poised to discuss the school's possible interest in joining an expanded Big Ten. But any inquiring reporters need not bother asking about a move that could trigger a seismic shift in college sports.
The 10-member Board of Curators meets Thursday and Friday in Columbia amid reports of the Friday deadline.
An agenda released Tuesday afternoon says the curators and system president Gary Forsee won't comment on "Big Ten or Big 12 athletics matters" at the sessions.
But the agenda also shows curators will take the unusual step of meeting in a closed session as soon as they arrive on Thursday morning. And they will meet again behind closed doors after Friday's public session, as is customary.
None of the nine curators contacted Tuesday by the AP responded to a request for comment. And a university spokeswoman responded to questions about the meeting as well as whether the school has hired its own consultant to study conference realignment with a three-sentence statement that was previously issued and emphasizes its current conference affiliation.