Braxton Miller has chance to add to his legacy with postseason win

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- The resume is comically overstuffed, one of the most impressive in the storied history of Ohio State football.

The trophy case is loaded down with more awards than any single person should have, a haul that puts him among the most decorated players in Big Ten history.

Braxton Miller has a mountainous pile of touchdowns, an undefeated season as the starting quarterback -- and in one more unique twist, a successful transition to wide receiver to his credit.

But there is one thing missing for the senior ahead of his last appearance with the No. 7 Buckeyes in the BattleFrog Fiesta Bowl on Friday against Notre Dame. And it’s no secret to Miller that a postseason victory as an active participant is essentially the only thing he hasn’t done.

“Of course, that’s the main goal now,” Miller said Wednesday. “My main focus, main topic is to beat Notre Dame.

“The main reason why you play in a bowl game is you want to win it. I am just going to make sure I do my job to make sure we get to that point at the end of the game. You know, the opportunities I get, I’m going to make sure I take advantage of them.”

Miller definitely didn’t have as many opportunities as he was accustomed to this season after his position switch. And he also might not have even touched the football as often as Ohio State envisioned when Miller, a dynamic open-field runner, opted to become a wide receiver and H-back after three seasons at quarterback. A pair of shoulder surgeries derailed his career at his natural position.

But Miller might have actually enhanced his one-of-a-kind legacy with the Buckeyes by transforming himself from a two-time Big Ten first-team quarterback into an honorable mention All-Conference wideout who scored four more touchdowns in 2015 to push his career total to 35. He was already going to go down as one of the best quarterbacks in Ohio State history even if he hadn’t been able to come back from the injuries that forced him to miss the entire 2014 season, when the Buckeyes won the Sugar Bowl and the College Football Playoff National Championship. In his return this season, he stamped himself as simply one of the best players, period.

“He’ll be one of the top 10 players ever to play,” Ohio State coach Urban Meyer said. “He’s a back-to-back Silver Football award winner [as the Big Ten’s best player]. He’ll go down among the great players. He’ll be remembered as one of the great players in Ohio State history.”

Carving out that place among the legendary Buckeyes wasn’t as easy as Miller often made it look when he was healthy, and his career didn’t pan out exactly as he envisioned in more ways than one.

Miller was supposed to redshirt as a freshman in 2011 before Terrelle Pryor bolted as a result of the NCAA investigation that also ended Jim Tressel’s coaching career with the program. Miller took over as the starter early in the season, was productive and claimed his first trophy as the conference Freshman of the Year in 2011, but even now he’ll admit that he wasn’t ready for the trial by fire and could have used the extra time to develop both his body and his fundamentals.

The same NCAA situation produced a bowl ban in 2012, when Miller flourished as a multipurpose threat and at times single-handedly dragged the Buckeyes to a perfect regular-season record. But he and the Buckeyes were forced to sit at home during the postseason -- another factor in that one hole on his resume.

And then there were the shoulder surgeries. But even after those setbacks, Miller again left some indelible memories, starting with an electrifying spin move on a 53-yard touchdown run in the season opener after a year on the sideline. It offered an instant reminder of just how special he can be.

“I think I made a great impact on Ohio State from my freshman year to my fifth year as a senior,” Miller said. “There are certain things that I did that are unheard of, I feel like. And a lot of the things that I accomplished as a quarterback, I’m very proud of them.

“Absolutely, I want to be a legend, just like everybody else that comes through here. I always wanted to leave a legacy.”

Miller has one final chance to determine exactly what it is. And it just so happens to be an opportunity to do the one thing he hasn’t.