What Happens to Ohio State If Braxton Miller Goes Pro?

Andrew Coppens@@andycoppensContributor IDecember 19, 2013

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - DECEMBER 07:  Quarterback Braxton Miller #5 of the Ohio State Buckeyes rushes for a touchdown against the Michigan State Spartans in the third quarter of the Big Ten Conference Championship game at Lucas Oil Stadium on December 7, 2013 in Indianapolis, Indiana.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
Andy Lyons/Getty Images

As Ohio State prepares for the Orange Bowl against Clemson, there have been constant rumors about Braxton Miller's NFL future. 

Will he go to the big league or stay for one last go in Columbus? 

Miller addressed the rumors in about as noncommittal a fashion as one could, telling the Columbus Dispatch the following

"I get that all the time, every day," he said with a smile. "I’m just focused on the team right now, focused on what we’ve got to get accomplished for the group and Buckeye Nation. I’ll worry about it after the game."

For Ohio State, however, the big question overshadowing its future is what happens if Miller does go pro. 

This 2013 team was one of the most prolific offensive football teams in Ohio State history. Miller and the Buckeyes put up 6,740 yards of total offense and scored 46.3 points per game. 

Those are some lofty numbers to live up to no matter what.

Dec 7, 2013; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Ohio State Buckeyes running back Carlos Hyde (34) pumps up the crowd prior to the 2013 Big 10 Championship game against the Michigan State Spartans at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports
Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

That may be especially the case for Ohio State, who are already facing the potential loss of four starting offensive linemen, star running back Carlos Hyde, leading receiver Corey "Philly" Brown and quarterback Kenny Guiton after this season.

Add in Miller's departure, and Ohio State would have to find a way to replace 91.6 percent of its total yards gained and 93 percent of its touchdowns scored from this year.

It doesn't matter who you are bringing in or who remains on the roster, that's a devastating amount of change coming your way. 

Hyde, who is Urban Meyer's first 1,000-yard back, has a steady stream of up-and-coming youngsters waiting in the wings to replace his production. Jordan Hall and Ezekiel Elliot proved to be a good tandem when Hyde was out on suspension early this season.

The offensive line has depth and is recruiting a lot of talent as well.

Wide receiver can't be an issue if there is no one to throw them the football, and there is plenty of proven talent coming back for 2014 with Evan Spencer and Devin Smith returning for their senior seasons.

Miller is perhaps the most indispensable player Ohio State has for next season. Not only would his departure leave a massive hole at quarterback, but also a massive gap in leadership on the offensive side of the ball.

Nov 30, 2013; Ann Arbor, MI, USA; Ohio State Buckeyes quarterback Braxton Miller (5) passes the ball in the second quarter against the Michigan Wolverines at Michigan Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports
Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

A gap that this team may be unprepared for thanks to a roster that had Miller, Guiton and four freshmen at quarterback. 

Only Cardale Jones, one of those four freshmen, has even attempted a pass in a collegiate game, and Jones has only thrown two passes in his career.

OSU is also bringing in three-star (according to 247sports) dual-threat quarterback Stephen Collier in the 2014 class.

None of the QBs currently on the roster, or set to join the team, are perceived as can't miss prospects. 

Names like Cardale Jones, Stephen Collier and J.T. Barrett don't exactly roll off the tongue or bring around the attention that Miller or even Terrelle Pryor did when they came to campus.

OSU's 2014 prospects on offense already will look a lot different than in 2013, but losing Miller would be a massive blow to a team facing major holes elsewhere on the offense. 

Miller has yet to make his choice, but Ohio State's 2014 chances of contention hinge on his looming decision.

*Andy Coppens is Bleacher Report's lead writer for the Big Ten. You can follow him on Twitter: @ andycoppens.


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