HUBER HEIGHTS — In Braxton Miller’s hometown of Huber Heights, residents enjoy talking about the accomplishments of the Wayne High School graduate, the Ohio State University quarterback.
Last Monday at the Huber Heights Rotary Club, one Rotarian gave a “Happy Buck” for Miller being on the cover of Sports Illustrated, but said he hoped Miller didn’t experience the jinx sometimes associated with being on the cover. Little did he know that Miller would sustain a freak injury that same day that would end his season and result in surgery for Miller on Tuesday, Aug. 26.
Local residents and coaches were shocked by Miller’s injury.
“I was devastated to hear what happened to Braxton, not only as a Buckeye fan, but for him personally, what it’s going to do to him,” said Rotarian Tim Magoto. “I’m very happy to hear he’s coming back next year for the Buckeyes.”
“I was very disappointed for him,” said Rotarian Tom Theil. “Personally, I think, as a fan and alumni of Ohio State, we enjoy watching the kids go out there and play well, but him personally, it really changed the course of his life, I would assume, and hopefully he’ll come back from that injury and pursue his career at Ohio State in the future.”
“My instinct would be like for any kid,” said Vic Trapani, Assistant Wayne Athletic Director. “My heart goes to the kid. It’s his senior year and he has dreams of big things and right now, they’re put on hold. They’re not gone, but they’re put on hold. He’s just going to have to work hard at finishing up his schooling and getting healthy and then come back at it again next year for a red shirt year. My heart was broken for him.”
“There was certainly a sigh of oh no,” said Huber Heights City Schools Superintendent Susan Gunnell. She said it was hard to hear “because of all the potential that we were seeing and thinking this was going to be that cumulative experience of a really positive year for him and wanting it, of course, for him as an individual, but also the pride it brings Huber Heights and Huber Heights City Schools and Wayne High School. It was hard, but it was mostly a concern for his health.”
Wayne Athletic Director and head football coach Jay Minton said he thinks that Miller is a “true competitor” and will come back “better and stronger.”
Minton said that when Miller said he would graduate in December and go to graduate school and come back to lead the Buckeyes, “that in itself says so much about the young man.”
Minton said “you hurt when they hurt” and “we hurt a whole lot.”
“I think the team up there is still quite young,” said Minton, trying to look at the situation optimistically. “The offensive line is young this year, that gives them another year of experience…I think the defense will be much better. So, if you look at things across the board, I kind of thought they might be a year away from making a run at the true national championship, and this might be a blessing in disguise that, for him, it gives him another year of maturity.”
Wayne assistant football coach Brian Blevins offered his perspective.
“I was very disappointed for Braxton, but the next morning I received the tragic news of Jason Bitsko’s untimely death,” said Blevins, concerning the death of a 21-year-old Kent State football player who also was a Wayne graduate. “That really put everything in perspective. Braxton will overcome this and go on to do great things.”
(Greg Smart is editor of the Huber Heights Courier. He may be reached at 937-236-4990, ext. 2542 or on Twitter @HHCourier.com.)