Friday, April 16, 2010

PRYOR IS MORE COMFORTABLE THIS SPRING ... IN MORE WAYS THAN ONE

Photo of Terrelle Pryor by The Buckeye Times' Darla Dunkle-Hudnell

COLUMBUS — One thing has been very noticeable this spring on the Ohio State practice field.

Terrelle Pryor has progressed into one fine collegiate quarterback.

Not saying that he wasn't before, I mean, Pryor is 19-3 as a starter at Ohio State, including 1-0 in BCS bowl games, so he has been a winner during his first two seasons in Columbus.

But it's the way Pryor's running the offense now that's getting attention. He's much better with his reads. His footwork is more smooth and effortless. His passes are very crisp and accurate. The 6-foot-6, 240-pounder looks like a totally different quarterback. A more comfortable player if you will.

"It's all about decision making," Pryor explained, Friday after practice in Columbus. "I'm making a lot better decisions and the game has really, really slowed down. When you first get here you are kind of thinking like, 'is this ever going to slow down? Is this ever going to get easy like high school?' But, finally, it has really slowed for me."

Coming into your third season as a starter can help slow the game down just from an experience standpoint. But when you add in the fact that it's the first time since 2006 that the Buckeyes have come into the spring not being haunted by season-ending disappointment, it can put a little more bounce in your step and give you a more clearer picture when putting in your work.

"It has become much more clearer for me," Pryor said. "I finally understand why Coach Sis (Nick Siciliano) wants me to do this stuff. You know, keep my chin down, open my hip while I'm dropping, I mean, you can see the whole field. Using the snap count to your advantage, bringing the defensive line off to help the offensive line.

"All that stuff you start understanding and the game just slows down ... It's so much clearer to me now."

Pryor is coming off a career performance in the Rose Bowl, where he put up 338 total yards and two touchdown passes, en route to being named the game's Most Valuable Player. OSU head coach Jim Tressel decided to unleash his young quarterback in that 26-17 win over Oregon and it paid off huge dividends for the Buckeyes.

Pryor said to look for more of that style this season, but with a few added ingredients — most notably tight end Jake Stoneburner.

"Man, we've got Jake stepping in. Jake's a whole other dimension," Pryor said. "I think he is going to be a big time play maker. He's been great this spring."

Of course, Pryor said that Stoneburner isn't the only offensive player to be excited about this season. The return of receivers DeVier Posey and Dane Sanzenbacher, as well as a stable of running backs led by senior Brandon Saine, junior Dan Herron, sophomore Jordan Hall and redshirt freshman Jaamal Berry, give Buckeye fans much to look forward to in 2010.

"With DeVier and Dane and a lot of backs running the ball, I'm very excited," Pryor smiled. "If you are a Buckeye fan, you should be excited, too. I feel the coaches got us mapped. We're finally growing up.

"We just have to keep on working together and just come together as a team and have that chemistry."

DEALING WITH THE HYPE ... Pryor has had more pressure laid on his shoulders than any player that has ever put on an Ohio State football uniform.

The hype that has surrounded the Buckeyes quarterback ever since coming out of high school in 2008, has been very Lebron-esque.

Perfect example was on Friday, following practice inside the Woody Hayes Athletic Center, when hordes of reporters — most of which haven't even showed up to one practice this spring — gathered in full force knowing that Pryor would be speaking with the media.

Boy, and we can't understand how some athletes and celebrities become prima donnas? Pryor, just like he has done against opposing defenses during his collegiate career, has found a way to elude being a cocky superstar.

"No, I'm not cocky, I feel like I'm more of a people person," Pryor laughed. "I just feel like I have had a lot released off my chest. I'm just happy all of the time."

Pryor admitted that he's had problems in the past dealing with his super stardom, but he's used to it all now that he's been around it for the past three years.

"I had a little problem last year, you know, you get hyped and everybody starts jumping on you, it's a big thing," Pryor said. "You're young and you start hearing all of this stuff and you're like 'wow.'

"But now, man, it's nothing."

Pryor is definitely the Buckeyes cover boy, in fact, with Florida's Tim Tebow now gone, he may be on the front of every college football magazine in the nation.

The Buckeyes signal caller says that he has no problems handling it.

"I'm okay with being on magazines and stuff like that," Pryor said. "It's stuff we've got to handle. It's the type of things that happen. But, you also have to let your team know that you're all for them. Without them, I would be nothing. Period.

"I'm a team player, that stuff doesn't mean anything to me. I wish I could put all 100 (Buckeyes) on there."

PRYOR IS WORKING THE FILMS ... When asked about his incredible game-clinching touchdown pass to Posey in January's Rose Bowl — where he connected with the receiver on his back shoulder — Pryor said that he learned how to do it by watching film of some of the NFL's best passers, like Peyton Manning.

"I watch a lot of Peyton film and a lot of Mark Sanchez," Pryor said. "I'm addicted to watching Sanchez and Peyton. That's where I learned that back shoulder pass. They're my role models.

"I did that twice to DeVier in the Rose Bowl, that back shoulder pass. It's a very hard thing to stop. Very hard."

JERSEY SCRIMMAGE ... Friday's practice was light and short, as players were basically doing prep work for Saturday's jersey scrimmage, perhaps the biggest measuring stick of the spring.

The scrimmage will begin at 9:30 a.m. at Ohio Stadium. It is closed to the public.