Q: Terrelle Pryor …
make a call. What’s he really going to do?
A: I know
Pryor is supposed to be the real deal. I know that he has all the talent
to be a superstar of Vince Young-like proportions, and I know that Ohio
State fans see him as the missing piece to get over the hump and win a
second national title in six years. Sorry, but I'll believe it all when
he actually does something.
I'd like to get all caught up in the mania, I really would, but I've
heard this story before.
Ronald Curry was a can't-miss superstar who was going to become a
college football legend and perhaps win multiple Heismans. Just like
Ryan Perrilloux. Just like Lorenzo Booker. Just like Ron Powlus. Just
like Carlos Snow. Just like Ben Olson. Just like Derrick Williams. Just
like a bazillion other high school superstars you could name.
Here's the big problem when it comes to top recruits who come in with
ridiculous expectations: the hype machine treats star football prospects
like star basketball prospects, and it's a different process.
A Michael Beasley or a Kevin Love can instantly take a college
basketball team and make it special, and a player of that caliber would
be a top five NBA pick right out of high school. Football players, even
the great ones, aren't pro prospects until a few years of work. Beasley
has tens of millions of dollars waiting for him, but David Stern forced
him to go through the pretense of being a college student for a year.
Pryor probably thinks he's an NFL star in the making, and he probably
is, but it's not a given by any stretch. Beasley would've been the third
pick in the 2007 NBA Draft right out of high school. Pryor probably
wouldn't be drafted in this year's NFL Draft, and if he was, it would be
a late round shot in the dark. Even if Pryor is great, it takes
something very special to make the next jump into NFL stardom. It also
takes something special to be a college football star.
Football is a cruel, cruel sport, and it requires years of seasoning
before becoming an NFL star. Honestly, raise your hand if you knew a few
years ago that Matt Ryan was going to be a top five pick. Honestly,
raise your hand if you thought a few years ago that Kyle Wright was
destined to be an NFL sure-thing?
Vince Young never won a Heisman (although he should've). Colt Brennan
and Chase Daniel were Heisman finalists last year and weren't exactly
household names on the recruiting trail. It all just means Pryor has the
expectations jacked up ten-fold because of how the recruiting process
played out, and then there will be a bunch of no-names who own the
college football world a few years from now.
Pryor won't have a dull career. Either he'll win a national title and/or
a Heisman, or his time at Ohio State will be considered an utter
failure. And what if he loses to Michigan? And what if he loses to
Michigan more than once? It's not fair, but that's the deal when you're
supposed to be that good.
Even with all the hype and all the history going against Pryor, the
parallels to Tim Tebow and Florida are just too delicious. Here comes
the star freshman to be sprinkled in here and there to add a bolt of
excitement while the steady but unspectacular incumbent keeps the seat
warm. I won't be shocked if it plays out exactly like that with the
Buckeyes winning the 2008 national championship.
Can Pryor live up to the promise and potential like Tebow? As a college
football fan I hope so, but my guess is that he'll be terrific, have a
great career by most standards, and won't live up to the hype.
Q: Terrelle Pryor …
make a call. What’s he really going to do?
aside the enormous amount of hype he’s received and will continue to
get, there are few good reasons to believe Pryor will be as good as
advertised, as long as he can handle all of the scrutiny. Yeah, you can
pick apart his ability to read defenses and his technique isn’t
flawless, but every high school quarterback begins college with some
areas of improvement. However, almost none of those players possess
Pryor’s blend of athleticism and arm strength in a 6-6, 225-pound
frame. He’s a rare athlete that can play about eight different
positions on the field if given the time to digest a playbook. With
that in mind, these are my Pryor expectations for the next four seasons.
Year 1: Pryor will rise to No. 2 on the depth chart behind Todd Boeckman,
occasionally whetting the appetite of Buckeye fans and causing sophomore
Antonio Henton to consider transferring to another school.
Year 2: The Terrelle Pryor era begins at Ohio State with mixed results,
but a strong enough finish to get real excited about 2010.
Year 3: Pryor emerges as one of the game’s most dangerous dual-threat
quarterbacks, contending for the Heisman Trophy and leading the Buckeyes
to national championship contention.
Year 4: A mature, polished, and filled-out Pryor foregoes his final year
of eligibility, leaving for the NFL, which considers him to be a top 5
selection in the 2011 draft. Basically, I’m expecting him to follow a
similar trajectory as the one Vince Young traveled in Austin.
Of course, busts happen during every recruiting cycle, so there are no
guarantees, even for a player of Pryor’s caliber and advanced billing.
However, as long as he doesn’t get consumed by the hype and surrounds
himself with the right people, only the natural born contrarian or
Buckeye-hater doesn’t see this kid developing into one of the game’s
dominant players in a couple of years. As good as Troy Smith was in
Columbus, winning the 2006 Heisman, Pryor appears to have a much higher
ceiling at similar stages of their careers.
Pryor … make a call. What’s he really going to do?
To hype a young man (or predict his
spectacular fall from grace) after a major recruiting/commitment
announcement is one of the ugliest and most soul-destroying aspects of
the college sports industry.
Sure, a lot of people in Ohio, Michigan and elsewhere have been
breathlessly tethered to Terrelle Pryor's every waking breath in recent
weeks, and will be fixated on the lad when Labor Day arrives. How about
we let a kid be a kid, hard as that instinct might be to cultivate
A prediction? Here's a safe one: Pryor will learn a lot about himself in
his freshman year, and we'll see how he handles it... as a human person
(and not just a football player). Best of luck, young man. Be humble,
work hard, and do what's in front of you each day.