Ohio State quarterback Braxton Miller will not be playing quarterback for the Buckeyes this year, after he re-injured his shoulder.
The school confirmed the news late Tuesday afternoon.
Miller was coming off-season surgery in February and re-injured his right shoulder attempting a short pass in practice Monday.
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“My thoughts and prayers are with Braxton and his family,” Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer said in an news release. “This is an unfortunate injury to a young man who means so much to this program and to Buckeye nation.”
The senior and three-year starter had first hurt the shoulder in the Orange Bowl. He had surgery that prevented him from contact in spring practice and was held out of several practices and scrimmages in August.
“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.”
Redshirt freshman J.T. Barrett is Miller's top backup and, if Miller is unable to play, would likely be the starter when the Buckeyes open the season on Aug. 30 against Navy at Baltimore. Coach Urban Meyer said Saturday that redshirt sophomore Cardale Jones is the third-team quarterback.
Miller's Backups: J.T. Barrett and Cardale Jones
Miller is one of the Big Ten's most decorated quarterbacks, and the falloff in experience to Barrett and Jones is huge.
Miller has thrown 666 passes in his glittering three-year career, starting as a freshman. Barrett has never played in a game, and Jones has thrown only two passes. Miller has also run for 32 touchdowns and passed for 52, putting him in reach of many of Ohio State's career records for quarterbacks.
Jones has run for one touchdown and has never thrown for one.
Barrett was an acclaimed recruit out of Wichita Falls, Texas, who watched with Jones last year as Miller took most of the snaps in the Buckeyes' 12-2 season. When Miller was hurt for most of the San Diego State, California and Florida A&M games with a sprained knee, senior Kenny Guiton had big games while leading Ohio State to victories.
But Guiton graduated and the Buckeyes might have to adapt on the fly. Making that even more difficult is that Ohio State is without four of its five starting offensive linemen, its leading receiver (Corey Brown) and 1,500-yard rusher Carlos Hyde from last year's team.
Miller missed most of his senior season at high school in Huber Heights, Ohio, and has frequently been sidelined with injuries at Ohio State.
As a freshman, he sprained an ankle against Nebraska - a game in which the Buckeyes built a big lead but blew it - but was able to play in subsequent games.
Two years ago, he missed time during the game at Michigan State when he fell into an equipment case on the sideline, and later in the game hyperextended his left knee. He was hit hard by Purdue's Josh Johnson later in the season and missed the rest of that game, with Guiton leading a stirring march in the final minute for a touchdown and the tying two-point conversion. The Buckeyes won in overtime.
Last season, he sprained a knee early in the San Diego State game and missed the rest of that game and the next two, with Guiton filling in.
Then he partially tore the labrum in his right shoulder on the first possession against Clemson in the Orange Bowl. He played the rest of the game. When the injury was discovered later, he had surgery in February.
Ohio State said at the time that Miller had "minor, outpatient surgery." But he has had problems with the shoulder since. Still, he has repeatedly said he would be ready to go in the opener, and did so again between practices Monday. His workload had been reduced to avoid any ongoing soreness in the arm.
Meyer said last week some pain was expected from routine throwing in practice.
"I anticipated this," Meyer said. "I've dealt with guys with arm issues before, and we're being very cautious. He could have practiced (in one of the workouts in which he didn't play), but we're in it for the long haul. So he's right on schedule."
At the Buckeyes' media day last week, Miller said his arm felt good and he was able to throw as much as he liked.
"After my rehab, I was throwing to guys at least four days out of the week," he said. "Our timing and our situation-wise, when I get back in there it'll be like I never left."
Fans reacted to the news.
"I was having a good day and then that just totally bummed me out,” said OSU sophomore Sean O'Connor.
After a trying few years for fans, O’Connor said this season, everything was aligning.
"This year was the third year with Urban (Meyer), and Braxton Miller- he was just expected to do great things," said Brock Griffin. "I was hoping this year, you know, ranked number 5, it was looking really good. He's coming back as a senior. So things were really set up. Now this throws another wrench in things."
He calls the loss disappointing, but not debilitating.
"It is going to be a big blow, but it's one player. So I still think we have a great team and a good shot."
Ronald Stults has backed the Bucks for generations.
"Fifty years of season tickets,” Stults said, a former high school coach. His first thoughts are of Miller.
"A freshman gets hurt and I'm like, they've got three more years. A senior, I just, breaks my heart,” he said. "I sincerely hope and pray that he gets healthy and has a 100 percent year next year, and the fans see how good that kid really is."