- Joe Robbins/Getty
The top-ranked Ohio State Buckeyes looked like a juggernaut in their season opener last night, roaring back from a 17-14 halftime deficit to top Virginia Tech 42-24 in Blacksburg.
All eyes were focused on whether J.T. Barrett or Cardale Jones would line up under center for the Buckeyes, but it was the team’s former quarterback, Braxton Miller, who stole the show for Ohio State – and at wide receiver, no less.
Miller announced that he would switch from quarterback to wide receiver over the summer, following the Buckeyes’ National Championship and the ensuing three-man quarterback controversy. Miller had won the Big 10 Offensive Player of the Year award in 2012 and 2013 at quarterback before redshirting the 2014 season with an injury. With Miller sidelined all of last season, Barrett assumed starting duty and thrived historically, setting new Ohio State records for most TDs in one game (6), most TDs in one season (44, also a Big 10 record), and total offense in a season. But in the fourth quarter against Michigan, he broke his ankle. Jones – the third stringer – took over and led Ohio State to a National Championship.
You could count on one hand the number of college programs in which Barrett or Miller wouldn’t start at quarterback and probably shoot to the top of the Heisman rankings. But because of the depth at position, Miller decided to switch to a hybrid H-back position – sometimes lining up as a receiver and other times as a running back, similar to what Percy Harvin (another Urban Meyer product) does in the NFL.
Last night, in his first game not as a quarterback, Miller logged two touchdowns on 140 total yards, 78 receiving (on two catches), and 62 rushing. Not bad for someone just starting a new position.
His first TD made him look like a natural receiver:
And his second touchdown is already a Play of the Year candidate:
After Miller’s second touchdown, he did LeBron James’ famous celebration. James loved it:
I see you lil bro @BraxtonMiller5!!! Hit em with “The Silencer”
— LeBron James (@KingJames) September 8, 2015
Miller’s position switch is terrifying. Rather than losing him via a transfer – as many speculated over the summer -or letting his talent simply go to waste on the bench, Ohio State can, and evidently already is, utilizing Miller’s athleticism elsewhere on the field. They’re still benefiting from Jones’ physicality at quarterback, too, with the luxury of knowing Barrett – only a sophomore and the best backup in the country – is on the bench in case Jones gets hurt. Don’t forget Ezekiel Elliot, either: the team’s running back and Heisman Trophy frontrunner had an 80-yard TD himself last night.
With so much firepower, will anyone come close to touching this team?