Pryor says he finally feels like a QB
Ohio State’s secret weapon isn’t much of a secret.
After two years of tutoring, coaxing, learning and waiting,
Terrelle Pryor is no longer just a gifted athlete but a genuine
It’s almost too much for assistant head coach and wide receivers
assistant Darrell Hazell. His voice drops to a conspiratorial
whisper as he says, ”You’ve just seen the beginning of greatness,
I think. I believe that. He’s so much better right now. He looks
like a true quarterback. He gets back in his drops now, sees the
field so much better now than he did last year – so much
Regardless of the departures and arrivals that make up a typical
year for a college team, Ohio State’s coaches think the biggest
difference in the second-ranked Buckeyes this year is Pryor’s
comprehension of the position.
”The fun part of what we do is that every guy that comes in at
17 or 18, it’s dramatic how we see them change,” coach Jim Tressel
said. ”Terrelle is no different. He just happened to be walking
around with a spotlight on him the whole time. I think his change
has been as significant as anyone else’s.”
The first test comes Thursday night when the junior leads Ohio
State up against Marshall at Ohio Stadium.
”I really feel like a quarterback,” Pryor said. ”I feel like
I can be a complete quarterback, but I can also run the ball. It’s
going to be interesting, just how much smarter I am and how much I
grew. … It’s the first time I could actually look at film and see
how much I’ve grown and matured. I go through the reads right, I
hit my checkdowns now, I take the right steps in the handoff. It
just feels like everything is good.”
Despite winning 19 of 23 games since he took over as a callow
freshman, those who see Pryor on a daily basis say he’s only
scratched the surface.
”The guy is a freak of nature,” safety Jermale Hines said.
”And not only is he a freak of nature, but he’s coming along as a
quarterback. He’s starting to look off (defenders) and things like
that. His arm has gotten way stronger. But I’m really not surprised
because he’s the hardest working guy on the team. Hands down.”
In his first two years running the offense (he took over for
Todd Boeckman four games into the 2008 season), Pryor has flashed
the ability to make an eye-popping run with that fluid, 6-foot-6,
235-pound frame. When he is assigned to tuck the ball under his
arm, or he is flushed out of the pocket, he puts pressure on a
defense to break coverage and hunt him down. And he is extremely
fast and elusive for a man his size.
”He’s scary when he can run it and threaten the edge because
he’s a hard guy to tackle,” Hazell said.
His passing, however, has been spotty. Even though he’s
completed 58 percent and has a 2-to-1 ratio on TD passes to
interceptions (30-15), there have been times when he has been
inaccurate and inefficient. He seldom threw deep or even
medium-range passes. Some blamed a shot-put throwing motion. So
Pryor worked for hour after hour on passing drills during the
offseason, streamlining his release point and honing his touch.
Couple that and his running ability with his increased awareness
of coverages and blitzes and he becomes potentially the best
quarterback in the country.
”We always knew Pryor had the talent, the ability, it all comes
down to what’s going on in his mind,” cornerback Chimdi Chekwa
Tressel said that it’s taken time.
”Terrelle has a good confidence about himself instinctively,”
he said. ”I also think that he has a tough standard of excellence
that he puts on himself. I think he’s grown into understanding that
this is a journey and that every moment is not an end-all
With increased understanding of what’s going on around him on
the field, Pryor has gained a lot of respect from his
”Last year TP was kind of just playing off his freshman year
and still wasn’t really sure of what was going on,” cornerback
Devon Torrence said. ”But this year, man, he’s very decisive when
he’s out there. He understands the whole package, what everybody’s
doing. And checkdowns. He’s calling out the defense and the stunts
and the blitzes and everything and he knows who the hot receiver
No wonder with a new season looming, Pryor feels as if he’s at a
”I’m very anxious, I’m a little nervous,” he conceded. ”But I
also think we’re ready.”