COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) – Braxton Miller was unusually quiet, save for one big block using his right shoulder that’s been surgically repaired twice.
It wasn’t a flashy touchdown like the two he had in No. 1 Ohio State’s first game, but the play against Hawaii helped build confidence for the former quarterback who’s faced several different tests of the shoulder early this season.
Miller led with his right shoulder for a key block on Saturday to spring punt returner Jalin Marshall for a 32-yard return. The play was defining for Miller as he recovers while playing a new position in part because of a logjam at quarterback for the top-ranked national champions.
Former NFL and Ohio State receiver Cris Carter noticed, sending Miller a tweet: “Nice block.”
“Appreciate it brother,” Miller replied after the 38-0 win. “Had to protect him lol.”
Miller tells everyone the shoulder doesn’t hinder him. He first hurt it during the 2014 Orange Bowl against Clemson, then sat out last season when he reinjured it 13 months ago on a non-contact play.
After a splashy first game against Virginia Tech with a 54-yard touchdown catch and 53-yard touchdown run, Miller was limited to 46 yards on six carries and a 6-yard catch against Hawaii. The block came because he volunteered to be part of the punt return unit.
“Whatever I do on the field, I just want to be the best at it,” said Miller, fourth in Ohio State passing history with 52 touchdowns and the Big Ten’s most valuable player in 2012 and 2013.
Miller said he thinks he’s ready to throw again and can do so without pain.
“It’s up to Coach (Urban) Meyer and the play call and how I feel,” Miller said.
If Miller and Meyer can prove that Miller is truly a threat to pass again, it would likely change how future opponents try to defend him. Virginia Tech and Hawaii keyed on Miller when he took direct snaps from the wildcat, gambling on him not testing his arm. The Buckeyes play Northern Illinois on Saturday.
“Braxton is one of the most special guys in the world with the football,” Ohio State safety Vonn Bell said. “Anywhere you put him on the football field he’s going to make a play.”
Miller became emotional last week while talking about his injury.
“It was devastating what happened to my shoulder,” he said while talking about his performance against Virginia Tech. “The emotion just hit me being back out there with the guys and making plays. High-fiving everybody on the sideline, it felt like I didn’t miss a beat. I’m blessed and just want to do it again.”
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