COLUMBUS — Braxton Miller still has a lot he wants to get done at Ohio State.
That’s why the junior announced Thursday night he’ll return for his senior season. The 6-foot-2, 215-pounder, a two-time Big Ten MVP, had been contemplating jumping into the NFL Draft a year early.
“I want to help this team win a Big Ten championship next year,” Miller said in a statement issued through the university. “Plus, I want to improve as a quarterback in all aspects of my game. I’m looking forward to working for another year with (coach Urban) Meyer and (quarterbacks coach and offensive coordinator Tom) Herman. And I want to graduate, so this will help get me closer to my academic goal.”
An acclaimed recruit out of Springfield, Miller has started for almost three full seasons. After taking over during a 6-7 season in 2012, under Meyer he led the Buckeyes to a school-record 24 consecutive wins before losses in the Big Ten championship game to Michigan State and Orange Bowl to Clemson.
“He has been an extremely valuable member of our team,” Meyer said in the statement. “His desire to lead our team to a championship, to earn his degree from The Ohio State University next spring and to continue to improve as a quarterback are his motivation.”
Even though Miller missed almost three full games with a sprained knee in 2013, he passed for 2,094 yards and 24 touchdowns with seven interceptions and ran for 1,068 yards and 12 scores.
Had he left, it would have been a crippling blow to the Buckeyes. The only scholarship quarterbacks a season ago were freshman J.T. Barrett and redshirt freshman Cardale Jones.
Ohio State loses four senior offensive linemen, Miller’s top passing target (wide receiver Corey Brown) and the team’s leading rusher (Carlos Hyde).
Late last season, he was asked if he felt he was ready to play in the NFL.
“Oh, yeah. Of course. Yeah. Definitely,” he said. “It’s just another step in life.”
Asked what he would gain from returning for a senior season, Miller said, “Learning from Coach Meyer. He’s one of the best in the game. So just learn from him. Get better at my craft, I feel like. And graduate, too.”
He had said last week at the Orange Bowl that he intended to return, but the decision was delayed for several days while he met with his family, friends and coaches.
Miller was ninth in the Heisman Trophy balloting this past season and fifth the year before.
Several school records are within his grasp next season. He needs 2,256 passing yards to top Art Schlichter’s total of 7,547; with six more touchdown passes he will surpass Bobby Hoying’s Ohio State total of 57; and he can pass Schlichter’s marks for touchdowns accounted for (85) and total offense (8,850) with just two more TDs and only 505 more yards, respectively.
Miller began spring semester classes on Thursday.