Of all the umpteen awards they hand out in college football every year -- Heisman, Butkus, Outland, et al -- I'm not aware of one specifically for Comeback of the Year.
So I'm hereby creating one for 2015, and its inaugural recipient is Ohio State's Braxton Miller. Voting is already closed.
Twenty months after he last played a college football game, the Buckeyes' former standout quarterback made his much-awaited debut at a completely new position Monday night against Virginia Tech. What kind of impact, we wondered, would the fifth-year senior have as newly converted H-back/receiver?
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And now, we have the answer after Ohio State's 42-17 victory. He's un-be-lievable.
After the Buckeyes fell behind 17-14 at halftime, Miller near-singlehandedly swung momentum back in their favor with two electrifying scoring plays. First came a 54-yard touchdown catch from Cardale Jones in which Miller niftily kept his balance and his feet in bounds on his way down the sideline.
Then, late in the third quarter, he took the snap, weaved his way around left end, accelerated and put a ridiculous X-box spin move on the last couple of Hokies defenders with a chance to stop him. Bam, 53-yard touchdown, and away Ohio State went. Twenty-five point victory.
On the one hand, it's not surprising. Miller's superb athleticism and running ability helped him win back-to-back Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year Awards and top-10 Heisman finishes in 2012 and '13. Back then, of course, he was the quarterback. Now, he's yet another lethal weapon on an offense that already featured preseason All-American running back Ezekiel Elliott (who broke an 80-yard touchdown run against the Hokies), stud receiver Michael Thomas (26-yard touchdown from "backup" QB J.T. Barrett), speedy No. 2 back Curtis Samuel and a couple more burners, Jalin Marshall and Dontre Wilson, who missed this game to suspension.
That's ... not ... fair.
There are lots of great stories across the country, including lots of hard-working athletes who've had to overcome injuries, so I wouldn't dare suggest Miller's tale is the "best" in college football. But it's certainly heartwarming.
That the fifth-year senior is a Buckeye at all at this point makes him a rarity. When first Barrett, then Jones emerged as more-than-capable replacements during OSU's 2014 national title run, rumor-mongers foamed at the mouth over possible transfer destinations for Miller. Because that's what most established college quarterbacks do when they're not guaranteed a starting job. Would it be Alabama? LSU? Florida State?
But the Huber Heights, Ohio, native remained loyal to the school where he slogged through the chaos of coach Jim Tressel's ouster during a rocky freshman season and an unanticipated bowl ban his second. He reached the Big Ten Championship Game as a junior only to fall short there and against Clemson. And then he could only watch as the Buckeyes finally ascended to the top of the sport while relegated to shoulder rehab.
Miller didn't transfer. Nor did he reclaim the quarterback job. But if his opening-night performance was any indication, he's going to have a considerable impact on the Buckeyes' quest for a repeat championship.
Welcome back, Braxton. The sport's a lot more fun with you on the field.