Ohio State offensive lineman Harry Miller proving a quick study in position switch
After Ohio State’s win at Penn State last week, offensive coordinator Kevin Wilson asked sophomore Harry Miller for a self-assessment of his performance.
Miller felt pretty good about his second career start at left guard.
“Rather than doing assignments or thinking too much, I felt like I was playing football,” Miller said. “That lets you loosen up and make plays.”
The Buckeyes’ coaching staff gave a similar review. They graded him as a "champion," a distinction he did not receive in the season-opening win over Nebraska the previous week.
Along with Nicholas Petit-Frere, Miller is one of two new starters on the offensive line. He also has an added challenge – he switched positions.
Enrolling as a top-ranked center prospect from Georgia and backing up Josh Myers last year, Miller moved to fill the left guard position vacated by Jonah Jackson.
Miller has the mind to learn a new role on the football field. A mechanical engineering major and former high school class valedictorian, he is a voracious reader who hopes to own a bookstore later in life.
During a conference call with reporters on Wednesday afternoon, he zig-zagged between an assortment of topics that ranged from studying Hindu scripture to traveling to Nicaragua this spring and ambitions of sailing across the Atlantic Ocean.
But he admits his adjustment to a new spot on the Ohio State offensive line also requires him to resist the urge to overthink.
“Sometimes it’s easy to get in your head and it’s easy to lose yourself in situations, scenarios, predictions, estimations,” Miller said. “Football comes down to hit a guy, try not to get hit too hard yourself and keep your composure. Don’t complicate it too much. Just play ball.”
In transitioning roles this offseason, Miller relied on Jackson, as well as advice from Wyatt Davis.
Davis, who starts at right guard, answered technical questions about the position, positioning and more X’s and O’s.
While Jackson left for the NFL and was training for the draft during the early months this year, Miller recalled watching him up close last season. It gave him a road map to follow.
“There’s really no two better guys to learn from than Jonah and Wyatt,” Miller said. “I was really grateful and thankful for that.”
Miller added that he appreciated emulating last season’s entire offensive line, a talented group that was critical in paving the way for running back J.K. Dobbins, who became the program’s first-ever 2,000-yard rusher.
“They kind of gave me the foundation to be able to just play football and not overcomplicate it,” Miller said.
Last season, Miller appeared in all but one of the Buckeyes’ games, often as a reserve filling in for starters late in blowouts.
It was a taste of life on the field. But it was a limited experience.
The first two weeks this fall have given him a more sustained period to get up to speed with consistent reps, and he feels he’s fallen in line even in a strange season played through the coronavirus pandemic.
“Even just on game day itself last year,” Miller said, “it's like you do the warm-up, then you go on the sideline, the game unfolds before you and the starters loosen up the defense. They work through all the tough stuff. Then you can come in later and sort of relieve everybody.
“But it’s very different to go in when it’s the first game of a season that potentially wasn’t going to have lots of energy and this is your first sort of rodeo. But luckily, I was running with great guys and you sort of feel yourself naturally having to keep up the pace.”
Ohio State vs. Rutgers
When: 7:30 p.m. Saturday
TV: Big Ten
Radio: WBNS-FM/AM (97.1/1460)