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OSU's Braxton Miller flashes big potential at relatively new position

MOBILE, Alabama -- For all intents and purposes, Braxton Miller was in great shape entering his senior season. It just wasn't wide receiver shape.

The former Ohio State quarterback was 215 pounds when he made the national headline-worthy move to wide receiver. One of the most dynamic dual-threat quarterbacks in the country when he was healthy, Miller initially struggled with the conditioning that came with his new position. He strained both of his hamstrings during preseason camp. The transition, he learned, wouldn't be just an offseason thing.

"I knew something wasn't right," Miller said.

Miller not only increased his conditioning, but also changed his diet. As the season progressed, Miller saw his weight drop by more than 10 pounds. He was lighter on his feet and wasn't getting as winded.

He was, well, a wide receiver. Never has that been more apparent than this week's Senior Bowl practices.

"I felt great all season, but now I feel even better," Miller said. "I'm here to show you guys what I'm capable of in terms of playing inside receiver or outside receiver going against the best defensive backs."

Aside from some cramping that kept him out of portions of Thursday's practice, Miller only got better as the week progressed. His highlights, captured either by ESPN's cameras or smart phone-holding reporters on the sidelines, went viral.

"I'm just putting an effort into what I've done all season," Miller said. "This is one of the things I really wanted to do. I'm just trying to show everyone I'm able to play receiver just as good as anyone in the country. Even though I just play on the inside, I can play on the outside, backfield, punt returner and all of that stuff.

"It feels good actually doing it here with a lot of scouts here that had a lot of concerns about me playing wide receiver. I feel great."

There's been no turning back since Miller made the switch from quarterback to receiver, a move that was initially triggered by a shoulder injury that ended his 2014 season before it started.

Miller didn't waste any time in 2015, catching three passes for 79 yards and a touchdown and rushing for 61 yards and another score in Ohio State's season-opening romp at Virginia Tech. His production tapered off a bit the rest of the season, particularly during a stretch where the entire Buckeye passing game labored, but the threat he presented kept defenses on their toes whenever he was on the field.

Miller finished with 26 receptions for 341 yards and three touchdowns. He also ran for 260 yards. They're not numbers synonymous with receivers who typically hear their names called on the first two days of the NFL draft, but Miller isn't a typical case because of his lack of experience and athletic upside.

"For now on, I'm a receiver. That's how I think now and all I want to do now is be the best I can possibly be," Miller said. "I'm still working on my craft every day. Some of the stuff comes naturally, but I still got to work on the technique."

The switch Miller is making isn't the most common, but it's certainly not unique.

New England wide receiver Julian Edelman was a college quarterback who transitioned to one of the most productive pass catchers in the NFL. At the 2013 Senior Bowl, Denard Robinson worked at wide receiver after spending most of his Michigan career at quarterback. Robinson is now a running back who has found gainful employment with the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Miller is ready for whatever the NFL throws his way.

"I'm a team player that will do whatever the team needs," he said. "Whatever the coaches ask me, I'm going to make sure take it in and run the route exactly the way they want it to be run."

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