As we prepare to begin the season, we have reached the end in our preseason countdown of the Big Ten's Top 25 players for 2013. As you know by now, this list is based on past performance and potential for the upcoming season only. We do not consider NFL potential for purposes of these rankings.
There should be little surprise as to who tops our rankings ...
No. 1: Braxton Miller, QB, Ohio State, junior, 6-foot-2, 215 pounds
2012 postseason ranking: No. 1
2012 numbers: Completed 58.3 percent of his passes for 2,039 yards and 15 touchdowns, with six interceptions. Also rushed 227 times for 1,271 yards and 13 scores.
Why he's here: Miller finished No. 1 in our 2012 postseason rankings and maintains the top spot until somebody dethrones him. He's the reigning Big Ten offensive player of the year and a leading 2013 Heisman Trophy contender after finishing fifth in the voting last December.
Here's the crazy thing, though: Miller still has plenty of room to improve. He can definitely raise his completion percentage and spent some time this offseason working with quarterback guru George Whitfield Jr. on his fundamentals. He should have more options at receiver this season and he has worked on learning how to scramble, something he almost never did last year. And it will be his second season in the Urban Meyer/Tom Herman offense.
I asked Herman last week whether Miller was a "polished" quarterback yet. Herman belted out a long "no" before adding:
"He's on his way to being polished," he said. "I have confidence that someday before he leaves here, he will be. There are at least longer stretches now of him being very, very polished and very poised and in control of the offense than there ever have been. We've just got to put it all together. But he's close."
Miller has already shown that he's the Big Ten's best player even while he attempts to figure out all the various aspects of quarterback play. If he gets all that down, he might well be the best player in the country.