For the most part, discussion of Ohio State quarterback Braxton Miller’s Heisman Trophy candidacy within the halls of the Woody Hayes Athletic Center is hushed.
When Miller wasn’t present during a post-practice interview on Monday, though, OSU junior tight end Jeff Heuerman tipped his hand regarding his personal feelings about whether Miller deserved to be in the running for college football’s most prestigious award.
On the subject of what to expect from OSU’s junior signal caller during the 2013 season, Heuerman retreated from a media scrum, turned and struck the famed Ed Smith pose that is immortalized atop the cast bronze Heisman Trophy.
Not that he needed to, but Heuerman clarified his stance on Miller’s Heisman candidacy further, saying, “I think he’ll have a real good year.”
“Understanding the offense – (it’s) year two in the offense (for Miller), and that allows us to do things a lot better than we did last year,” Heuerman said.
Heuerman posed two more times before apparently deciding he was making too big of a spectacle.
“No more poses,” Heuerman said through laughter as he jogged inside the Buckeyes’ practice facility.
Miller netted 1,271 yards on the ground during the Buckeyes undefeated 2012 season while also throwing for 2,039 yards. His mark of 3,310 yards of total offense placed second in program history behind Terrelle Pryor’s vacated school record set in 2010. Miller also accounted for 28 of the team’s 54 offensive touchdowns (13 rushing, 15 passing).
Several Las Vegas odds makers have Miller slated as the preseason favorite to take the Heisman Trophy. Miller said there really isn’t too much talk of the national hype surrounding him in the OSU football complex.
“(Teammates) don’t talk about it at all,” said Miller, who laughed after being told of Heuerman’s playful antics. “If they see it on ESPN they might mention it to me, you know, if they see me walking down the hallway or something. But they don’t bring it up.”
That fits in line with head coach Urban Meyer, who said there will be no big campaign for Miller’s Heisman candidacy. The second-year coach said the same thing at the start of last year, too, before admitting in late October that Miller was among the players who deserved to be in the conversation.
"Do I believe he's a Heisman candidate? I do,” Meyer said after Miller led a victory at Penn State last season that included a spectacular touchdown run. “I didn't say that before. But I do believe Braxton is a Heisman candidate. He has to play much better. However, just from sheer production on a team that's 9-0, it puts him in that category, and that's without knowing all the other candidates."
Miller went on to finish fifth in the voting, with Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel earning the trophy.
Manziel is back, but Heuerman ably stumped for his teammate, noting that significant strides by Miller as he enters a second year in Meyer’s offense could push both the quarterback and the rest of the Buckeyes squad to national acclaim in the season to come.
“(Miller’s) got more things going on than anyone else on the field,” Heuerman said, “so I think year two in the offense has slowed things down for him and it’s really improved (him). When he improves we all improve.”
The Heisman Trophy, presented annually by the Downtown Athletic Club in New York, recognizes the outstanding college football player whose performance exemplifies the pursuit of excellence with integrity. The 2013 winner will be the 78th in the history of the award and, perhaps, the eighth in OSU program history.