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Sept. 15, 2012

Just A Game (Braxton Miller)

By: Ashley Albertson, Athletics Communications

One pass, a 40-yarder to Devin Smith for the game-winning touchdown against Wisconsin in 2011, was all it took for Braxton Miller to become the face of Ohio State football. Now entering his second season as the Buckeyes’ starting quarterback, Miller is still learning to accept his position in the limelight.

One thing the Huber Heights, Ohio, native has not accepted, however, is the game of football will ever be anything but fun.

“Last season I was hit really hard in the Wisconsin game,” Miller recalled. “I remember standing up yelling, ‘Who hit me like that? Oh, they better not try that again.’ Then I just started laughing. That moment is what I remember most about the game. Sometimes you just have to remember it is just football, it’s supposed to be fun.”

Miller remembers wanting to be involved with football as young as four years old after watching his older brother play the game outside with friends. Although basketball and baseball divided his interests as a child, it was on the football field where he found a home.

Now, even in the spotlight at Ohio State, a home away from home is how Miller chooses to view his time on the playing field.

“At home I’m me, just a kind of goofy kid running around,” Miller said. “I try to always think about that when I step on the field. I’m not someone who goes out there yelling if someone messes up. If I’m having fun and staying calm it will help the players around me more than showing or vocalizing I’m upset.

“My dad is such a calm human being, that’s something everyone says.  He taught me when things go wrong, because at some point they will, you just have to smile and be calm because it could be worse. When you have achievements, especially when you do good things on the field, you have to act like you’ve been there before. You can’t over exaggerate your excitement.”

Through this calmness, humility and leadership Miller has gained respect from his most important followers, his teammates.

“It’s really nice having Braxton back there, being so cool and calm,” Corey Linsley, Ohio State’s starting center, said. “I feel like he knows what’s going on in my head and I know what’s going on with him too.”

The feeling is mutual. Miller also benefits from having his teammates around. In fact, it is his teammates he turns to when the pressure and attention become too overwhelming.

Whether it is playing video games or relaxing in front of the television, laying low with teammates is the best way to simply take a break and be around people who have an understanding of the pressure he consistently feels.  A pressure stemming not only from the game of football but the position in which he plays, Miller said.

Although Miller has developed an understanding of what life is like under a microscope, it still takes some getting used to.

“I was walking to class one day and someone took a picture of me walking from behind then posted it on Twitter,” Miller said. “I had no idea someone took a picture of me. It’s just weird having that kind of attention.”

Besides his teammates, Miller also has head coach Urban Meyer to look to for advice.

A relationship he believes is maturing every day, Miller admires his coach’s ability to balance the fun and seriousness of the game.

“Sometimes he makes little, goofy comments and we’ll have a moment, but after that everything is serious,” Miller said. “He’s serious about coaching things I don’t know and everything he coaches I want to take in. He’s a good teacher.

“It’s important to build a trust because he needs to know when he calls a play I’m going to get the job done. It’s a work in progress. We’re still finding that trust.”

As a sophomore, Miller will have plenty of time to not only build a stronger relationship with Meyer, but also enjoy the game he has loved to play since childhood.

Despite the challenges, pressures and sometimes-unwanted attention that comes with his position at Ohio State, Miller insists there is nowhere else he would rather be.

“I’m grateful every day to be in this position,” Miller said. “I’m so thankful I didn’t choose any other place over Ohio State. With all the things that have been accomplished here, it’s one of the greatest college football programs. No school could ever come close to this place.

“I take school very seriously. If it wasn’t for school I wouldn’t be here and I mean that.”

Although Buckeye fans are hoping this season will produce another moment like Miller’s pass that helped defeat the Badgers, he hopes for another moment of laughter with his teammates. A moment where instead of being the face of Ohio State football, he is just a goofy kid enjoying his time as a Buckeye.