COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Ohio State quarterback Braxton Miller laughs long and hard when asked if he's bought up every available copy of the recent Sports Illustrated that had him on the cover.
No, he said eventually, he didn't corner the market.
But he's comfortable being a cover boy and readily accepts that if he continues to develop and the Buckeyes continue to win, then things such as a Heisman Trophy and other forms of individual recognition are inevitable.
"You work hard for it and little things like that, it pays off," he said Thursday night after a spring workout. "You just keep working, you never know."
Miller leads a Buckeyes offense that welcomes back nine starters, including almost everyone who touched the ball on a regular basis last season when Ohio State put up a surprising 12-0 record.
Now Miller, already a starter for two full years, is prepping for his junior season at the controls of coach Urban Meyer's offense.
He knows big things are expected of the Buckeyes — and of him.
"I've been hearing (about the high expectations) every time I go somewhere, ever since the last game of the season," he said. "Finishing 12-0 was big. I'll live with the expectation and keep working hard."
Late last season, Meyer and quarterbacks coach/offensive coordinator Tom Herman agreed that Miller needed to get better at fundamentals such as footwork, throwing motion and decision making. Miller, an acclaimed high school recruit out of nearby Springfield, Ohio, has all the physical tools. He can run like the wind, can elude tacklers and has a strong arm.
Now it's necessary to get better. Immediately.
"I would say if he was at a 1 this time last year and a 4 at the end of the season, he's at a 6 right now," Herman said. "He could be an 11 on a scale of 1 to 10. It's just a matter of the process and the teaching progression has to be at a pace where he can feel good about where he's at. And then take the next step, and get really good at whatever he's working on at that point, and then take the next step and the next step."
Miller finished fifth in the Heisman balloting a year ago after being selected as the Big Ten's player of the year. He set a school record with 3,310 yards of total offense last fall, rushing for 1,271 yards and 13 touchdowns and passing for 2,039 more with 15 TDs and only six interceptions.