By Jim Naveau
COLUMBUS – Braxton Miller did not become a receiver after a lifetime of playing quarterback to become a possession receiver, a part-time player or a decoy.
He thinks he can be every bit as dangerous — maybe even more of a threat than he was as a two-time Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year as Ohio State’s quarterback in 2012 and 2013 — as a receiver this season.
As a pass catcher, he figures he will be far deeper into opposing defenses when he gets the ball than he was when he started several yards behind the line of scrimmage, which should work to his advantage.
“You’re already on the second or third level (of the defense). All you have to do is make one person miss and it’s off to the races,” he said, smiling at the opportunity to leave defenders flailing in his wake again.
It’s not just his return to the field after two surgeries on his throwing shoulder that has Miller excited. It’s the fact Ohio State’s offense should be electric this year. Or maybe more like electronic.
“It’s like playing a video game where you can put anybody anywhere,” Miller said at Ohio State’s media day on Sunday.
The fifth-year senior has never lacked confidence and brings the same belief in his abilities to receiver that he had as a quarterback.
“I’ve always had confidence in myself. I’m fortunate that God blessed me that I can play any position on the field. I just pray every night I have a healthy season,” he said.
Informed that quarterback Cardale Jones said he had looked like it was his first time playing receiver when OSU began practice last Monday, Miller said, “First time? Yeah, right. Ask him again. Ask (defensive back) Vonn Bell.”
Miller acknowledged playing receiver is hard work, maybe even more work than he thought it would be.
Specifically, receivers do a lot more running in practice than quarterbacks do.
“After the second day, I was like, ‘I don’t know how y’all do it.’ I ran four miles a day and I barely ran a mile at quarterback. It’s going good other than my legs being sore. I just want to be the best at what I do. Whatever I do on the field, I just want to be the best at it.”
Miller’s role could include throwing the ball, a hint he dropped on Sunday.
When he was asked who would emerge from the contest between J.T. Barrett and Jones to be the starting quarterback, he said, “There’s always going to be two quarterbacks on the field at the same time.”
Coach Urban Meyer also talked about using Miller’s arm in OSU’s offense, but said he is being careful not to risk another shoulder injury.
He said he decided not to practice a double pass involving Miller and one of the other quarterbacks last week for that reason. “God forbid he throws that darned thing and something happens. I just to make sure he’s ready,” Meyer said.
Meyer called the second week of practice at receiver a big week for Miller after his introduction to playing that position against live competition last week.
Miller said, “It’s fun. It feels like when I was growing up and playing all different positions and just having fun and enjoying football.”
ANOTHER QB/RECEIVER?: Highly regarded freshman quarterback Torrance Gibson spent some time at wide receiver last week but that does not mean he is changing positions, Meyer said.
“He came to me. He realizes it’s going to take at least a year to play quarterback here, especially with what’s in front of him,” Meyer said.
Ohio State is still looking for a deep threat to replace Devin Smith and Gibson is one of the players the coaches have looked at to fill that role.
“Has he moved to receiver? No,” Meyer said. “Is he going to play? Remains to be seen.”
INJURY UPDATE: Receiver Dontre Wilson, who is one of four players suspended for the opener at Virginia Tech, missed some practice time because of “some aggravation” in the same foot he broke against Michigan State last season, Meyer said.
Cornerback Marshon Lattimore, who missed all of last season because of hamstring surgery, is dealing with a less serious hamstring issue in his other leg and it is hoped he can return to practice this week.