Urban Meyer turned some heads on his weekly radio show when he had high praise for sophomore quarterback Braxton Miller. It's an unambiguous compliment—although one that needs to be parsed just a bit, as we'll see—but it involves Urban Meyer's most famous player.
According to Lori Schmidt of 97.1 The Fan in Columbus, Meyer's already putting Miller in the same sentence as one Tim Tebow:
“Very similar guys,” Meyer said. “They’re both competitive human beings. They’re both very talented people. Braxton has more talent. Tim is probably more of a grinder.”
Now, let's be clear: Meyer didn't say Miller was better than Tebow—and frankly, that's an unfair question when one's comparing a third-year NFL quarterback and a sophomore QB. Let's hold off on any determinations of "better" until at least the end of Miller's junior year. Fair?
In terms of pure talent though, sorry Florida fans, but it's true: Braxton Miller is more talented than Tim Tebow.
It takes an unbelievable amount of tenacity to play football the way Tebow plays it. He racked up nearly 700 rushes in his Florida career, and most of those carries were pretty contact-intensive. That's what Tebow excelled at: taking the fight right to opposing defenders and plowing ahead. Those 57 rushing touchdowns (a still-standing record for quarterbacks) were hard-earned.
But it's time to be honest: There are so many things Miller does that Tebow didn't and couldn't do during his collegiate career. And although we're seeing more of those things this year than last, the fact that he was flashing this potential as a true freshman under Luke Fickell proves that Miller's talent is as much a factor in his success as is his coaching.
Those highlights are all from Miller's freshman year, a year he was expected to just be redshirting harmlessly behind Terrelle Pryor. Whoops to that. And yes, a great deal of those highlights are rushes and not throws, which doesn't speak all that highly to the overall talent of a quarterback.
But first of all, good lord, those rushes. So many of those touchdowns are ones Tebow wouldn't have scored. Sure, he'd have gotten some decent yardage, and yes, Tebow is a different player with a different skill set who plays the game his way and not Miller's way.
It's just that Miller's way includes shredding a defense for a long touchdown from the other side of the field (something Tebow did precisely once at Florida). And those plays by Miller are not isolated incidents; they continue to this day.
Here's another play by Miller, this time from just this past week.
Do you think Tebow ends up standing in the end zone on that play? He wouldn't have juked that safety out of this world, he would have trucked him. And it would have been pretty awesome. And it would have ended in Tebow getting tackled about five or six yards later.
Miller, though? See ya. Gone.
And though Tebow's the more punishing runner, especially over the course of the game, it's not as if Miller falls apart like a Jenga tower after 10 rushes. Miller rushed 27 times against Central Florida in Week 2, and while Meyer said he didn't want to do that to Miller too often, the point's been made: Meyer can if he wants to.
And don't be shocked to see exactly that happen in big games for the Buckeyes. Let the superstar make plays.
Also, in terms of actual throwing mechanics, Miller's release is quick. Tebow's is slow enough that he's currently a backup in the NFL, unable to even beat out the woefully mediocre Mark Sanchez in New York. Does Miller have a higher ceiling than that? Yes, of course he does. That's because he's more talented.
Miller still has a lot of work to do as a passer. He doesn't always get his feet set, which means he doesn't always get much power on his throws, and it can be obvious. But those throws aren't the norm, and by and large Miller's a devastatingly accurate passer.
Miller's got a long way to go before he puts up season passing numbers like Tebow's. In three full seasons as a starter, Tebow averaged 28 touchdowns, five interceptions and 2,976 yards passing per year. Miller's not there yet. But he could easily get there. We're still talking about a guy who has 20 touchdowns and only six interceptions in his first 235 passing attempts. That's a touchdown percentage of 8.51 percent, which would have been 13th in the nation among qualifying quarterbacks last year.
Yes, Tebow's numbers were better, mind you—he was over 10 percent in touchdown percentage until his senior season—but Miller's got the talent to meet that level of execution.
Once again, like Meyer, we're not going for the better/worse angle between these two quarterbacks. Not yet. That's not fair to either QB, and it's a wildly subjective decision anyway.
But Tim Tebow's got the talent of, well, Tim Tebow. We're looking at his ceiling right now, which is standing on the sidelines while half the cameras stay fixated on him anyway because he's a dreamboat or whatever.
Meanwhile, Braxton Miller's over there in Columbus looking like a young Randall Cunningham (minus the leg, anyway), and when it comes to pure talent and potential, Miller's got Tebow crushed.