The worst fears of Buckeye Nation were confirmed Tuesday afternoon when Ohio State published a release confirming that quarterback Braxton Miller will miss the 2014 season with a shoulder injury.
Limited in his throwing schedule throughout fall camp after offseason shoulder surgery, Miller aggravated the injury while making a pass during Monday afternoon's practice and will go under the knife a second time.
In the official Ohio State announcement, Miller said he plans to return to the team in 2015.
“I love Ohio State and Buckeye nation, and my goal is to come back from this injury stronger and better than ever,” Miller said. “I am on course to graduate in December and I want to attend graduate school, and then return to lead the Buckeyes next season. In the meantime, I want to give all the support I can to my coaches and teammates as they chase a championship this season.”
Miller originally injured the shoulder in the Orange Bowl loss to Clemson, though Ohio State waited until Feb. 21 to operafte on the shoulder. At the time, the school described it as "minor, outpatient surgery," though the injury lingered throughout the summer and into fall camp. He did not take part in spring drills, instead wearing a contraption that recorded his thoughts as he broke down plays in real time, and had been limited in fall. Still, the Buckeyes professed no worry about Miller, likening him to a pitcher on a pitch count during spring training.
“My thoughts and prayers are with Braxton and his family,” Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer said. “This is an unfortunate injury to a young man who means so much to this program and to Buckeye nation.”
Miller, the two-time defending winner of the Silver Football given to the league's MVP, was expected to be in the Heisman Trophy race this season after leading the Buckeyes to a 24-2 record in the first two years of the Meyer era and also piling up impressive statistics along the way.
Last year, he compiled a school-record 36 touchdowns despite missing the better part of three games with a knee injury, as he rushed for 1,068 yards and 12 TDs to go with 2,094 passing yards and 24 scores against just seven interceptions.
He finished fifth in the Heisman voting in 2012 as a sophomore, rushing for 1,271 yards and 13 touchdowns and throwing for 2,039 yards, 15 TDs and six interceptions.
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Already the school's all-time leading rusher as a quarterback, Miller increased his completion percentage from 54.1 as a freshman starter to 58.3 as a sophomore and 63.5 last year, though he leveled off at the end of last year's campaign. Still, with another year of experience under his belt, it was hoped that he would blossom in the passing game while showcasing his arm to NFL scouts.
Miller, who has yet to take a redshirt season, entered his senior season with 5,292 career passing yards and 3,054 rushing yards to rank ninth and eighth, respectively, in school history and with the prospects of holding close to 20 school records. His 8,346 total yards and 84 touchdowns responsible for are each second in school annals. His 52 touchdown passes are fourth at Ohio State and just six from the school record.
With Miller gone, it appears redshirt freshman J.T. Barrett is in the driver's seat to be the starting quarterback, while sophomore Cardale Jones (who had appeared to win the backup job in spring) and true freshman Stephen Collier are the other scholarship quarterbacks on the roster and could be part of a rotation, though how the position will play out remains to be seen.
A popular preseason pick to take part in the inaugural College Football Playoff, Ohio State immediately saw its odds of winning the national championship lowered by sportsbooks.