Bosa’s Commitment, Braxton Miller’s Position Switch Caps Thrilling Thursday for Ohio State

Needless to say, it was an exciting, eventful Thursday in Buckeye-land.

First came the news that standout defensive end Nick Bosa, rated as the 17th best player in the nation and second best at his position according to Rivals, had pledged his commitment to Ohio State for the 2016 season. Bosa’s older brother Joey has already played two seasons for the Scarlet and Gray, picking up Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year honors among other accolades in 2014 while playing a key role in the Buckeyes national title run.

Then late Thursday night we heard that Braxton Miller, about to enter his senior season, had revealed to Sports Illustrated that he plans to switch from quarterback to more of a wide receiver/H-back position in 2015. The announcement partially clears up the Ohio State quarterback situation as it’s expected sophomore J.T. Barrett and junior Cardale Jones will now duke it out for the starting job.

Bosa’s Commitment Adds to Already Solid 2016 Class for Buckeyes

OSU head coach Urban Meyer continues to set the recruiting trail ablaze. The addition of Bosa is just another example. He becomes the 18th prospect to commit to the Buckeyes for 2016, with the class as a whole rated first in the nation by Rivals, Scout and 247Sports.

Bosa is a strongside defensive end who, like his brother Joey, possesses towering size, tremendous athleticism and an innate ability to get at the quarterback and bottle up runners behind the line of scrimmage. Shoring up the position he plays appears to have been a focal point for Meyer in this recruiting class as Bosa is the fourth defensive end to commit.

Might we see the Bosa brothers in action on opposite ends of opposing offensive lines in 2016? At this point, I don’t see that as a likely scenario unfortunately. The younger Nick still has to complete his senior year at St. Thomas Aquinas High School in Fort Lauderdale, FL. After Joey’s breakout 2014 and the potential for more of the same this upcoming season, the consensus is that the NFL might be in his future afterwards.

Braxton Miller Looks to Become More Versatile in 2015

One of the staples of an Urban Meyer offense, particularly since he arrived in Columbus, is how he implements the so-called hybrid back in various sets. Miller is slated to join teammates Jalin Marshall and Dontre Wilson who both fulfilled this role in differing degrees last season. His track record as the starting quarterback in 2012 and 2013 indicates he should adjust well to this new position.

Taking on the hybrid back role requires a certain level of versatility. Not only do you need the good hands and effective route-running capabilities of a wide receiver, but also the speed, patience and vision that all great running backs possess in being able to break off those big plays down the field.

Miller has already proven himself as an effective runner of the ball with his dual-threat ability as a quarterback. In his two seasons as the starter, he found the end zone on the ground 25 times and in both years he finished in the top 50 nationally in rushing touchdowns and no worse than top six amongst quarterbacks.

The big challenge for him will be getting the pass-catching aspect of the position down. Unbeknownst to us until Thursday’s revelations, it’s something he’s been working on since spring. In the SI interview, Miller discusses the countless hours of film he’s watched of top NFL receivers as well as the work he’s put in with Barrett and Jones.

The move to hybrid back isn’t the only new responsibility Miller has been tasked with. He is also expected to be a part of the Buckeye special teams as a punt returner, something he hasn’t done since middle school. Ironically enough, it’s another position where he’ll likely split time with Marshall and Wilson.

Don’t expect Miller’s contributions at quarterback to be completely phased out. I wouldn’t be surprised to see him get utilized in some form of wildcat set, particularly in goal-to-go situations. It’s there where Miller’s multi-pronged skill set as a speedy elusive runner and accurate passer can be put to use while continuously keeping the defense guessing.

In many respects, this move may also help Miller’s chances when it comes to succeeding at the next level. We’ve seen myriad examples of college quarterbacks reinventing themselves as so-called “slash” players in the NFL. Kordell Stewart and Antwaan Randle El come to mind as a few of the more successful examples.

These two developments from Thursday can only help to reinforce the excitement amongst Buckeye fans as the 2015 season approaches. The future looks bright, the quarterback situation has become somewhat less cloudy, and the stage is slowly but surely being set for a drive to repeat as national champions.

We’re only a month and a half away from college football season, folks!

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