(CBS) Ohio State star quarterback Braxton Miller, a preseason Heisman contender, will miss the entire season with an injured throwing shoulder, ESPN.com reported early Tuesday afternoon.
The school hasn’t confirmed the report or even the injury — which was reported on by The Columbus Dispatch on Monday night — but the ESPN.com report said Miller sustained the injury to his right shoulder during a non-contact portion of practice, matching the Dispatch report that said he injured the shoulder on a “simple throw.” Miller wasn’t even allowed to be hit in Buckeyes’ practice, and his injury came just hours after he told reporters he was fully healthy following offseason shoulder surgery.
A senior and three-year starter, Miller 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.
Redshirt freshman J.T. Barrett is Miller’s top backup and 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 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 before the latest unfortunate development.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.