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Miller Showing Versatility During Senior Bowl

Posted Jan 29, 2016

The Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year at quarterback in 2012 and 2013, Miller just finished his first season as a wide receiver and he showed all week during Senior Bowl practices he could become a star at that position as well

MOBILE, Ala. — Braxton Miller just shakes his head and smiles when he talks about burgers and French fries.

They’re off his menu — permanently — because keeping his weight down is vital now that he’s about to enter the NFL as a wide receiver and not as a quarterback.

The Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year at quarterback in 2012 and 2013, Miller just finished his first season as a wide receiver and he showed all week during Senior Bowl practices he could become a star at that position as well.

“Just catching the ball, that’s natural because one of the hardest balls to catch is from the center,” Miller explained about the transition. “If I can catch one from a quarterback, that’d be perfect.”

Miller made the switch to wide receiver after missing the entire 2014 season with a shoulder injury and then falling to third on the depth chart at quarterback behind Cardale Jones and T.J. Barrett.

The biggest part of the transition was more about conditioning than anything else, hence the need to cut out the burgers and fries.

“The only thing getting used to was my legs,” Miller said. “That was one of the main things I was struggling with. In camp, I strained both my hamstrings and I knew something wasn’t right, probably my weight, my diet, whatever, gotta change. I made a transition to change my diet before the Virginia Tech game and I shed a lot of pounds and body fat.

“It feels a lot better at 204 (pounds), especially my legs. I can tell I have a lot more energy and I’m a lot more explosive and I feel like a receiver now. When I was at 215 pounds, I was kind of struggling with the conditioning. Just getting acclimated playing receiver, at first I was trying to maintain 215. You know it’s a good weight, but I still wanted to maintain my energy level to get through practice, get to a game. That wasn’t working out in camp, so I had to shed a lot of body fat, a lot of pounds and just get in shape for the season.”

Miller arrived in Mobile after putting up modest numbers in his one season as a wide receiver — 25 catches for 340 yards and three touchdowns — but wasted little time impressing scouts with his speed, route running and pass-catching ability.

A Senior Bowl press conference late in the day Wednesday was scheduled to feature North team coach Jason Garrett and one player from that squad deemed to have stood out in the first two days of practice. That player was Braxton Miller.

On Thursday night, NFL scouts and Senior Bowl personnel handed out their practice week awards and the winner as the top performer was, yep, Braxton Miller.

“I felt great all season, but now I feel even better. I’m here to show you guys what I’m capable of in terms of playing inside receiver or outside receiver going against the best defensive backs,” said Miller, who battled cramps periodically during the week. “I knew I wanted to come here and check a lot of things off after leaving the Senior Bowl.”

Miller dismissed the idea he still thinks from time to time about playing quarterback, saying, “From now on, I’m a receiver. That’s how I think now and all I want to do now is be the best I can be.”

He said during media night he’s been studying two NFL wide receivers who once were college quarterbacks — New England’s Julian Edelman (Kent State) and Green Bay’s Randall Cobb (Georgia).

“If they put their minds and dedication to it, I can do it, too,” Miller said. “Being a competitor you can bring any type of game to the table. You can adjust to anything.”

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