Thursday, December 12, 2013
Silver Football puts focus on Miller's future
By Austin Ward
COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Braxton Miller was already in elite company even before he doubled down with his second Chicago Tribune Silver Football, an award given by the paper to the Big Ten’s best player.
Braxton Miller improved his passing mechanics this season, but also struggled down the stretch.
Now the Ohio State quarterback has to decide if he wants to accomplish something nobody else has ever done. Miller could put himself in a class all by himself by chasing the hardware for a third time, be he could find himself content with expanding the two-time winner's club to four.
The conversation about his future was already going to dominate the next month as Miller weighs his options about a potential return for a senior season, a run at yet another Big Ten player of the year trophy and a national championship. But as another trophy heads to the mantle at Miller’s parents' house, it only increases the intrigue around the discussion. Because for all the success that is piling up with Ohio State, there still doesn't seem to be a consensus about Miller’s future as a professional.
And Miller himself doesn't appear to be any closer to figuring out whether his next move should be chasing history or a paycheck.
“It’s tough,” Miller told the Tribune. “I just don't know. I’ve really got to sit down and go through the pros and cons. I’ll talk to my parents, take it slow.
"Hopefully ball out on January 3rd and see what the scouts are looking at.”
Miller could certainly use a much better passing outing on that date in the Discover Orange Bowl. If he does decide to forego his final year, the last month of his junior season left plenty of room for scouts to pick apart his arm.
The junior has always had enough arm strength to make every throw required of him, and he was clearly an improved passer for much of the season after devoting the spring and summer to improving his footwork, fine-tuning his accuracy and absorbing the playbook. But he completed less than 50 percent of his passes in three of the final four games, and even before struggling to an 8-for-21 performance in the Big Ten title game against Michigan State, coach Urban Meyer was already suggesting another year to develop would be in Miller's best interest.
"He has a skillset to be a pro quarterback, there is no doubt in my mind," Meyer said last month. "I don't believe he's ready yet, but I certainly get asked that question. Can Braxton Miller play an NFL quarterback? Absolutely, he can.
"There's no doubt in my mind because he continues to develop."
That process might not be complete yet, but even the unfinished product has proven to be one of the most prolific and individually-honored players in the history of the storied Big Ten.
Among all the other factors on the plate, Miller can at least add one more thing to consider now that he has a chance to leave an unmatched legacy in the league.