MOBILE, Ala. -- For Braxton Miller, the Senior Bowl isn’t his first taste of national exposure. The former Ohio State standout has turned heads his whole career and now wants to show that he can be a force as a wideout.
“I want to be a dominant receiver,” Miller said. “Inside, outside, or in the backfield -- I’ll do whatever the team needs. I’m there for it.”
Miller began his college days as a quarterback for the Buckeyes, throwing for 5,295 yards over three seasons. He suffered a torn labrum in the 2014 preseason, which ended his Buckeye quarterbacking days, and many thought he may transfer to continue playing from the pocket elsewhere. Instead, he elected to stay in Columbus and undertake a new role at wide receiver under head coach Urban Meyer.
Some, even Miller, may say he was underutilized at the position this year as he compiled 25 receptions for 340 yards and 261 rushing yards on 43 attempts. But it didn’t take long for him to appear on highlight reels across the country in his first game after the injury. He pulled off a spin move in the season opener at Virginia Tech that helped break a 53-yard touchdown run.
“That’s me. That’s how I play the game: very exciting and very electric,” Miller said in an interview with Seniorbowl.com. “And once I’m in a rhythm, magical things happen like that. It happened at the right time, right place. That’s just Braxton. That’s me.”
Miller said he strives to emulate Pittsburgh Steeler Antonio Brown because of his athleticism and explosiveness. And through three practice sessions, the former Buckeye has looked the part, showing off great burst and acceleration. Ohio State’s roster had him listed at 215 pounds, but he came into Senior Bowl week at 204, which he said has helped.
“It was tough on my legs,” Miller said. “I was about 210 and said I can’t do this. I cut it down to 205 and then to 204. It’s perfect for me and my legs feel fresh. I feel explosive like this.”
He will need to continue to exhibit that explosion and the ability to separate from corners throughout the week and during the game on Saturday. He said going one-on-one against defensive backs to get that separation is one of his favorite aspects of playing the position.
“Competing on the outside on man coverage, that’s what I love,” Miller said. “Competing with the best defensive back in front of me. That’s what I want to do in practice and I love it.”
His position on the field may have changed, but this week has shown everyone, including Dallas Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett, that he has the ability to play receiver at the next level.
“He’s a great athlete and he has to learn a lot of the skills that the receiver position requires,” Garrett said following Thursday’s practice. “But I think if you watch his arc from Tuesday morning to right now, he’s made great strides in three practices. It’s a real tribute to his ability, but maybe more than that to the approach he takes.”
And as many of the other skills players are hoping to prove this week, Miller wants to make known his versatility to potential suitors as the NFL draft nears.
“That’s what I’m here for, to compete against the best across the nation so that’s what I’m going to show this week,” Miller said. “I will be versatile in the backfield, on the outside and inside, and as a punt returner. So whatever they need I’m going to bring it to the table.”