Friday, July 17, 2009

IS TERRELLE PRYOR 'OVERRATED?'

The 2009 season hasn't even kicked off yet, and there are already critics piling on Ohio State quarterback Terrelle Pryor.

Brian Stubits of CBSSports.com wrote:

"I can hear Buckeyes fans everywhere in an uproar, but I'm in the show-me camp with Pryor. My eyes scan stories with him appearing on Heisman watch lists for the coming season. I put on my glasses. He's still there. That's where I get overrated. He still has to prove he can do an essential part of quarterbacking -- pass effectively. In his first season he only attempted more than 20 passes in one game. Not to mention, I'm still having a hard time ignoring back-to-back 5 for 13 games against Michigan and Texas to close out his freshman campaign. Can he be as great as the hype? Surely, but right now I don't see how people get their expectations based off his college track record."

Sure, he has some points. Whenever you're a highly publicized freshman who signs with an elite program like OSU, you are bound to receive more than your fair share of criticism. I think TP himself would agree with that.

However, to just discount a player because his first season wasn't what YOU expected it to be, is just bad evaluating.

Pryor chose to play at Ohio State because he wanted to become a better passer. An NFL-type passer. Pryor didn't need to be a great passing quarterback in high school, because he was such a superior athlete in comparison with those he played against that he could simply get away with just his unbelievable athleticism and strong, but unpolished arm.

His mechanics were robotic during his freshman season in 2008, which suggests that he wasn't comfortable with what he was doing. And when things broke down in the pocket, instead of buying himself some time with his legs to make plays with his arm, he would simply take off down the field.

He also had problems reading defenses, another aspect that he didn't need to learn in high school.

"It just disgusts me," Pryor said, about watching footage of himself from a season ago.

But here's the thing — he is learning. He is working hard to become a more polished passer and a smarter player. After observing Pryor during the spring, he seems to be well on track. But it will still take time, and even though Pryor will probably look more polished this season, he will only be scratching the surface of what he will ultimately be. It doesn't take one off-season to become Dan Marino or John Elway. Of course, the critics — as always — do not understand that.

When Troy Smith first came to Ohio State, he in no way resembled a polished quarterback. He had all of the skills, but he needed to learn the position (seeing the field, reading defenses and using proper mechanics).

Early on as a starter in 2005, Smith showed the signs, but like Pryor last season, he seemed a bit uncomfortable. There were many writers (including myself) asking Jim Tressel when he was going to pull the plug. Tressel always responded by saying that Smith was working hard to become a great passer and that he wasn't far from accomplishing his goal.

Well, Smith proved why Tressel is wearing the headset on the sideline and why us writer's are munching hot dogs up in the press box. Smith's diligence helped transform himself from a struggling quarterback into perhaps the greatest signal caller the school has ever possessed.

Observing Pryor's work ethic and determination, I forecast the same happening for him. HE WILL BECOME A GREAT QUARTERBACK!

As for being a Heisman candidate this season? Who cares?

I think Pryor is more concerned with getting OSU over the BCS title hump. He's more concerned with USC, Penn State and Michigan than where he's positioned on a Heisman forecast chart.

And, to Mr. Stubits of CBSSports.com — do you actually think it takes a great quarterback to cop a Heisman?

Well "put on your glasses" because you will see names like Chris Weinke, Geno Torretta and Jason White on the list of those who snared a bronze stiff-armer.