If a public election were held to determine Ohio State's starting left tackle, Andy Miller would be the write-in candidate.
Miller is a smart man, and he realizes this. He's aware that his competition, Mike Adams, is "The Next Big Thing" and that he's "the other guy."
It's a truism that when there is an opening to fill, fans tend to focus their hopes on the most highly touted recruit. In this case, that's Adams, a top-100 national prospect out of Dublin Coffman, a U.S. Army All-American Bowl participant, and the presumed heir to Alex Boone.
When spring practice began, eyebrows were raised when Adams and Miller were alternating with the first team.
What was this? Or who was this? After three years in Columbus, Miller was a forgotten man -- a tight end out of high school who converted to offensive line in 2007 but appeared buried on the depth chart.
Could it be that Miller's depth-chart promotion this spring was simply a way to motivate Adams? Miller worried that might be the case and expressed that to his high school coach, Ed Dalton of Washington (Pa.) Trinity.
"I said, 'Andrew, they don't hide anyone at left tackle. If they were burying you, if your death warrant had been signed, you would be a center or guard or an extra blocking tight end. You would not be blocking (quarterback) Terrelle Pryor's blind side,' " Dalton said.
As fall camp opened Monday, Miller, a fourth-year junior, once again was alternating with the sophomore Adams on the starting unit. Ohio State coach Jim Tressel made it clear that the competition was ongoing and undecided.
Miller is excited, even as he's fully aware of the politics involved.
"The guy who's really super highly recruited, he might get more shots or maybe a better opportunity at first," Miller said. "Sometimes the best player doesn't get to play until a little later on, or the (big-name) guy has to screw up a little bit. Sometimes that kind of stuff happens.
"But when it comes down to it, if someone is giving up sacks, the guy who's protecting the passer is the guy that's going to be the guy, because coach Tress wants to keep his job."
And both Dalton and Miller believe he can be that guy. He is 6 feet 6, and since arriving at Ohio State and switching positions, has bulked up from about 250 pounds to about 295.
A former basketball player, Miller certainly is athletic enough. Dalton estimates he can run a 4.9-second 40-yard dash.
Ohio State was one of few schools that promised him a shot at tight end. Most schools drooled over him as a tackle.
"He's come a long way since his days as a slow tight end," right tackle Jim Cordle said with a smile. "He's definitely one of the strongest guys we've got. He's definitely capable of performing at left tackle."
Miller emphasized that he is no way trying to downgrade Adams -- "Mike's a good guy. It's not like he's this jerk," he said. But there is a job to be won and he intends to win it.
"I've never seen Mike as 'the guy,' " he said. "I see myself as wanting to be that guy, and I think that I will be that guy, but it just has to happen.
"This is exciting -- I've been kind of expecting this to come. I really believe this is my time, it's now."