October 21, 2009

The Rise & Fall of Terrelle Pryor

I haven't seen a college athlete have a bigger rise and a even bigger fall than Ohio State quarterback Terrelle Pryor.

Think back to when Pryor was in high school. Coming out of a Pennsylvania high school, Pryor was one of the biggest high school recruits that college football had ever seen. Pryor could have walked onto any campus and the head coach would have been more than happy to give Pryor a scholarship. Pryor though eventually choose three schools that he was going to attend. Penn State, Michigan, and Ohio State. Remember the recruiting by these schools for Pryor?

Joe Paterno actually visited Pryor's home. Paterno hardly ever goes and vists high school prospects. Rich Rodriguez was in his first year at Michigan and he put all his eggs in one basket hoping to land Pryor. Then there was Jim Tressel. Now we don't know what Tressel promised Pryor, but speculation is that Tressel promised Pryor that he would start almost immediately and that Ohio State would pass the ball more often. Also Pryor liked the idea of Ohio State preparing him for the NFL. Joe Paterno has never really produced a great NFL quarterback, unless you put Kerry Collins in that category. And Rich Rodriguez runs a system that does not favor quarterbacks trying to make it to the NFL.

After delaying his decision by a month, Pryor finally decided to attend Ohio State. Pryor stated his Freshman backing up Todd Boeckman, but as the year went on Pryor became a bigger part of the offense and even started the last few games. You could see the potential for Pryor, but you could already see the signs that Pryor might not live up to those high expectations.

I still remember in the Fiesta Bowl against Texas, Pryor running out of bounds two yards short of the first down. If Pryor put his head down and plowed his way to the first down, who knows what would have happened in that game. Maybe Ohio State wins. But there were signs in that game, that Pryor might be who we all thought he was going to be. The next Vince Young who is really just the next Ron Powlus.

And now we come to this year, the second year in the Terrelle Pryor era. Pryor has gotten worse as the year has progressed. And now there are even questions if Ohio State should bench Pryor in favor of someone else.

Jim Tressel made a good point early in the season when some were questioning Pryor’s play – Vince Young didn’t become Vince Young until his senior season. The message was clear – young players need to develop, and it’s unrealistic to expect them to come in a perform consistently this early in a college career. Tressel prides himself on his ability to develop young players and young men. He knows players and teams will face adversity, and he wants to help them face it and overcome it.

For this reason, we shouldn’t be surprised that Tressel didn’t pull Pryor against Purdue. He should have been pulled, but Tressel doesn’t have a great option sitting on the bench, and he probably wanted to see how Pryor would react in that situation.

As an Ohio State fan, it’s hard to imagine watching Pryor play quarterback for two more seasons. The Buckeyes are loaded on defense, and they have a solid offense as well, even with a mediocre offensive line. All they need right now to compete is a quarterback who can hit open receivers and avoid turnovers. They don’t need a Vince Young or even a Troy Smith. Put Craig Krenzel on this team and the Buckeyes are competing for a national championship. Instead, we have the Terrelle Pryor train wreck, and an excellent defense is being wasted.

Pryor chose Ohio State because he wanted a program that could help him develop as a future NFL quarterback. That seems like a pipe dream now. The kid needs to focus on just being a competent college quarterback.

What should Tressel do? Would sitting Pryor help? Tressel needs to consider this if Pryor continues to turn over the football. He owes it to the other players on the team.

In the meantime, short of benching Pryor, Tressel needs to rethink what he’s trying to do on offense (the issue of Tressel calling the plays will be addressed another time). We can see he’s already tried to incorporate the option more into the offense, but we’re seeing that Pryor’s instincts aren’t much better there. Perhaps with practice he’ll get better, as the option at least plays to his running ability. Tressel should toss aside a good chunk of the playbook and go to a much simpler offense. Focus on running the football, the option, and other Wildcat-type plays, and have Pryor make much simpler throws that play off the running game. Dig up old tape from Oklahoma and Nebraska from the 1970’s, or even most of the Woody Hayes years. Keep it simple until the kid shows he can handle more.

Buckeye fans often get frustrated with Tressel’s conservative play-calling, but opening up the offense is not the solution here. He has to pull things back and start over. And, if Pryor can’t cut it in a simpler offense, then Tressel will have to make a change.
Now to give Pryor some credit, the offense has lost a lot from previous seasons. There are no Anthony Gonzalez's or Ted Ginn's at receiver. Chris Beanie Wells is no longer at running back. But there is talent on offense.

Personally I think both need a change. Tressel needs to simplify his offense to get the max productions out of Pryor. At the same time, Pryor has to work on his mechanics and decision making. Pryor tries to force too many balls and they all end up being interceptions.

Will this happen, doubtful. If Pryor hasn't shown the willingness to change yet, why would he ever change? Tressel has tried different things on offense, but Pryor can't even do those correctly. Hell Pryor even struggles with the simple option play.

Think about this situation for a minute. Have you seen a player fall from grace as hard as Pryor? He's the first ever high school recruit who is already considered a bust. He's the Alex Smith, Ryan Leaf, Heath Schuler of college football. That's a pretty hard fall for someone who had everything only a couple of years ago.

Is it time for Ohio State to bench Terrelle Pryor? (Cleveland Scores Report)

1 comment:

  1. Pryor looks uncomfortable when he's playing. You could put him in any system and I don't think he would succede.