Drew Thurman (1:53 pm)

"Does Wilson have a 20 second miracle in his pocket? If not, the freshman quarterback at his first homecoming is going to be the homecoming king."

Those were the words of Brad Nessler in the waning moments of Ohio State's emotional 33-29 victory over Wisconsin. A victory that saw freshman Braxton Miller become the newest star for the Buckeyes, thanks to his playmaking ability and poise.

On the biggest stage of his young career, Braxton put together a phenomenal 2nd half, scoring three touchdowns. While all three of those scores showed off his raw athleticism, none will be more remembered than the final one. With 30 seconds left on the clock and the Buckeyes trailing 29-26, Braxton dropped back to pass and was quickly flushed out of the pocket. After avoiding and scurrying away from two Wisconsin defenders, Miller gathered himself quickly and made the decision to throw. At that moment he did everything a quarterback shouldn't; he threw across his body, away from his momentum, falling away on one foot. The result was an arm punt of sorts that hung in the air for what seemed like an eternity before falling to earth into the hands of fellow freshman Devin Smith. Miller had sucked the safties in with his mobility allowing Smith to sneak behind them on a post pattern.

As amazing as a pitch as it catch was, what was even more amazing was the cold stare Miller gave the Ohio State sideline after making the play. Rather than freaking out in jubilation or even acting like a freshman on such a large stage, Miller's gaze calmly communicated to his teammates and fans, "I got this." 

While taking in this moment, and also watching the replay 20 plus times in the following 24 hours, I couldn't help but think how far Miller has come in just a month. This was the same kid who went 2 for 4 for 22 yards and a interception against Miami. In that game he was so tight and nervous even corralling a shotgun snap seemed like monumental task. I remember jumping on many of the blogs and message boards after that 24-6 crushing defeat, and reading fans calling for Graham or Guiton to get a chance. Many even questioned if Braxton had been too hyped coming in. Well, Saturday night that question got answered. While his mechanics are still suspect at times and Ohio State's passing attack is far from even being average, Miller has grown into the young, poised playmaker that many hoped he would be.

What makes his success even more admirable is that he's kind of a quiet assassin. I hope no one read into the stare from Miller and saw the kind of ego that many budding superstars present. He's already proven that's not his style. Despite fighting for playing time in the midst of a quarterback battle and stepping into a dysfunctional situation in Columbus, Miller has never acted like he deserved anything. You won't find him on Twitter either, complaining about things like some of his other teammates. He has taken it all in stride, and continued to grow throughout the process.

Let's be honest, the last 11 months have been pretty miserable for us as Ohio State fans. The football program has been in shambles, and we've lost our head coach and our confidence in the Scarlet and Gray. Maybe the worst part of it all is that we have found out that it all stemmed from players like Terrelle Pryor, who were in it for themselves rather than the program. What Miller essentially did on that 40 yard touchdown is give us our confidence back. We now believe OSU has a chance again this season, we now believe this team will finds it's way back to the top, and maybe most importantly, we can believe in players like Miller who are doing it the right way.

So yes Brad Nessler, he truly is the homecoming king indeed. Not only has he turned the season around with his newly found poise, but he's humbly taken a program on his shoulders in it's darkest moment.  


10/31/2011 16:57

Hate to admit it but I was one of those fans who gave up on Braxton too early. The kid is proving he's a gamer and I only wish we had a better scheme to showcase him. Damn you Walrus!


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