Standing out among his fellow wide receivers, quarterback-turned-wide receiver Braxton Miller was among the top players during 2016 Senior Bowl practices.
By the looks of it at this week’s Senior Bowl practices in Mobile, Ala., it’s hard to believe Ohio State’s Braxton Miller played just one season of wide receiver.
Miller also returned punts and kickoffs, an important aspect to his potential usability in the professional ranks.
“I can do it all,” Miller said this week. “Like playing special teams, playing punt returner, kick returner, coming straight out to special teams and, you know, doing receiver stuff. I can go full-go every rep, so they can understand where I’m coming from, playing the slot and playing outside receiver, too, and beating man coverage.”
NFL.com’s Bucky Brooks even noted that Miller is “the most natural punt returner that I've seen in years.”
“He catches the ball effortlessly with his hands and looks like a veteran judging the ball in the air,” Brooks said. “With Miller also displaying improved route-running skills and impressive ball skills, he could make an immediate impact as a multipurpose playmaker.”
Miller started his Buckeyes career at quarterback.
As a freshman, Miller was inserted into the starting lineup by the fourth game and won the team’s Outstanding Offensive Player award, tallying 1,159 passing yards with 13 touchdowns along with a team-high 715 rushing yards and seven touchdowns.
During his sophomore year, Miller led Ohio State to their sixth undefeated season in school history behind a school-record 3,310 yards of total offense and 28 total touchdowns.
But before the start of the 2014 season, Miller suffered a shoulder injury during practice. It would cost him the entire season.
More importantly in the long-term, though it was difficult to sit on the sideline while his teammates celebrated a National Championship, the year away jumpstarted his eventual move to wide receiver.
At just 6-foot-1, Miller didn’t have the size of a traditional quarterback. But he does have the athleticism to be a potential star in the NFL, and that was evident during his very first collegiate game at wide receiver, as his first catch was a fully-extend grab for the ball.
Then later in the game off a direct snap, he scored a 53-yard touchdown after a video game-like spin move.
At Senior Bowl practices, he’s gotten to show how far he’s come since that game.
“Working hard, a couple guys got down on the receivers, so we had to step up, and, you know, conditioning is the key to playing receiver,” Miller said. “So playing special teams, going to 7-on-7, 1-on-1 drills, going straight to team drills, so conditioning is a big part of my position and I got a taste of it [during the week].”
While Miller doesn’t know exactly when he’ll go in this year’s NFL Draft (he raised his stock during the Senior Bowl), there is one thing he already knows.
“I love having fun, I love getting the ball, just doing special teams, playing receiver, coming in the backfield catching reverses, you know, it’s fun,” Miller said.