Earlier today it was announced that Ohio State’s junior quarterback, Braxton Miller, won the 2013 Chicago Tribune Silver Football award given annually to the Big Ten Conference’s top college football player.
Since its inception 90 years ago when the Windy City newspaper doled out the first Silver Football which was won by Illinois’ Red Grange in 1924, Miller became just the fourth two-time award-winner joining the ranks of Minnesota’s Paul Giel, Ohio State’s Archie Griffin and Indiana’s Anthony Thompson.
In the award’s history, 14 different Buckeyes have won the Silver Football and they include Wes Fesler (1930), Jack Graf (1941), Les Horvath (1944), Ollie Cline (1945), Vic Janowicz (1950), Howard “Hopalong” Cassady (1954), Archie Griffin (1973 & 1974), Cornelius Green (1975), Art Schlichter (1981), Eddie George (1995), Orlando Pace (1996), Joe Germaine (1998), Troy Smith (2006) and the aforementioned Miller (2012 & 2013).
The voting is conducted by all 12 head coaches in the Big Ten with each submitting a two-player ballot that contains a first and second choice, though coaches cannot vote for players on their own team. Miller was on 10 ballots and received nine first-place votes.
While Miller won in a landslide, it also means that one Big Ten coach didn’t even have the Buckeye signal-caller in his top two. Wisconsin’s Chris Borland finished second and Ohio State’s Carlos Hyde was third.
But will Miller become the Silver Football’s first three-time winner? That depends if he decides to return for his senior season.
“It’s tough, I just don’t know,” Miller said to Chicago Tribune’s Teddy Greenstein on the stay-or-go decision. “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.”
In the article, Miller also stated that he’s “getting tired” of the pounding and is well aware that Ohio State will lose four senior starters on its offensive line. Also, Miller wants to develop more as drop-back passer and not run as much.
“We recruit running backs,” Miller said. “They’re on scholarship, too.”
In 11 games this season, Miller is 146-of-231 (63.2%) passing for 1,860 yards with 22 touchdowns and five interceptions. He’s also rushed for 1,033 yards on 153 carries and 10 more scores.
But will Miller enter the 2014 NFL Draft? Bucky Brooks, an NFL.com analyst said Miller is not ready to play on Sunday’s.
Brooks has this to say about Miller’s performance in the Big Ten championship game:
I’m disappointed in his inability to effectively pass from the pocket. He repeatedly missed open receivers, and his failure to string together completions forced the Buckeyes into a one-dimensional attack. In addition, Miller’s misfires grounded the Buckeyes’ attempt to rally in the fourth quarter when the game was on the line. From a scouting perspective, Miller’s shortcomings as a passer in the clutch make it hard to fall in love with his spectacular talent. Sure, he can improve as a passer at the next level, but his skills now are so unpolished that scouts would have a tough time selling Miller to NFL executives.”
Even before the conference title game against Michigan State, Brooks also had this to say about Miller:
Miller is simply not advanced enough as a passer to be effective as a starting quarterback in the NFL. He struggles with his accuracy and ball placement on intermediate and deep throws. Miller lacks the anticipation and timing to make precise throws into tight windows. Most importantly, Miller lacks the pocket presence and awareness to defeat pro defenses with his arm instead of his feet.”
Following the Illinois game, NFL.com’s Daniel Jeremiah chimed in on Miller:
Miller had an outstanding game running the football against Illinois. He racked up 184 yards on 16 carries, including a 70-yard score on the Buckeyes’ third play from scrimmage. His passing, however, still needs quite a bit of work. He tossed two touchdowns but he completed less than 50 percent of his throws (13 for 29) and he misfired to several wide-open Ohio State receivers. He really needs to work on his touch on underneath and intermediate balls. He throws nothing but fastballs and his placement is poor. His upside is sky-high but he has a long way to go before he’s a reliable pocket passer.”
At this time, Miller isn’t even listed as one of the top 20 quarterbacks for 2014 NFL Draft by CBSSports.com. So clearly, Miller needs to stay for his senior season and work on his game.
But will he?