Monday, April 2, 2012

BRAXTON MILLER LEARNING BOTH AS A PLAYER AND 'VOCAL' LEADER

Braxton Miller
(TBT/Darla Dunkle-Hudnell)
COLUMBUS — New Ohio State head football coach Urban Meyer can be a pretty vocal guy when on the sideline and out on the practice field.

He takes pride in being a leader of men and demands the very same mind set from his staff and his coach on the field — the quarterback.

Meyer's inherited signal caller — sophomore Braxton Miller — is one of the most athletically gifted players in all of college football. But when it comes to being a "vocal guy," sometimes the young QB's remote control can have the volume on mute.

Miller said Meyer definitely wants that to change.

"He said to be a good leader," Miller said, when asked what Meyer wants from him. "(He said) every time you walk into a room you've got to take charge of the team. So that's what I'm going to do."

Make no mistake about it, Miller was thrown into a situation last season that could've made the most confident guy sit in the back of the room with his head down. He was an 18-year old kid who was forced into the starting role after the third game and had the task of leading players who were four and five years his senior.

"I'm just trying to be more vocal than last year, communicating better with the guys on the team. I just have to keep focused on that," Miller said. "Coming in as a freshman, there are guys like you said that are 22-23 years old, they already have their leaders going on. So I was just taking everything in, trying to know what I had to do.

"Now I'm just living for them." 

New offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Tom Herman said Miller is improving each day as a vocal leader, something he's never really had to do ever in his life.

"He's getting better every day (as a leader). Getting better every day," Herman said of Miller. "Still has a long way to go. Braxton's the kind of kid that I think has been able to lead by example. I'm sure he was, from the time he was seven years old, he was the best player on the court, the field, the ping pong table, it didn't matter, he was the best. 

"But he has a great work ethic. He likes to work, he likes to learn, he likes to study. Now it's just getting that quietness maybe out of him and being a little bit more vocal as a leader and saying these guys need you to really be vocal and really pull them with you where you're going and where you want to go."

Miller said it's difficult sometimes to be that vocal leader, but it's something he knows he has to develop if this team is to become special.

"I'd say about every day," Miller laughed, when asked how often he has to stretch himself to be vocal to others. "Every time I see a guy out walking to class and stuff I have to take that leadership role ...

"Just tell them, 'Make sure you got your work done. Let's start this day out right."

Meyer has gushed about Miller's abilities and potential to be special in the Buckeyes' new spread offense. 

"It means a lot, you know," Miller said of being hyped by the successful Meyer. "I'm just taking it all in. I'm learning from him every day, every single day. I just need to learn and get better, make this team better."

Herman says there's still quite a bit of work to do before the product is finished.

"He throws the ball better than maybe I had anticipated," Herman said. "But I think he's got some definite refinement to do in terms of his lower body mechanics. I think his feet are all over the place at times, but the ball comes out nice and smooth and his delivery is actually better than I had anticipated. 

"The mental part of the game is getting to him right now, so we've got to continue to progress in that area and really go at warp speed to get that done so he can start being the coach on the field that he needs to be."

Miller said it's a major learning process right now, but also stated that he's having a whole lot of fun playing in the Meyer/Herman attack.

"It's explosive. Everything is fast paced," Miller said of the new offense. "It wears down defenses ... I like it because I can make my reads before the offense gets set. It's just a really fun offense to play in. 

"There's something new to learn every day."

Both as a player and leader.

— You can follow Lee Hudnell on Twitter @LeeHudnell_TBT