Wednesday, January 5, 2011

OSU'S TERRELLE PRYOR READY TO MATURE ... ON AND OFF THE FIELD

Terrelle Pryor led the Buckeyes to their first bowl win vs. the SEC on Tuesday night. (The Buckeye Times/Darla Dunkle-Hudnell)
NEW ORLEANS — When Ohio State quarterback Terrelle Pryor was suspended for the first five games of the 2011 season by the NCAA for receiving improper benefits, he could have easily just pointed his finger. He could have said that the system was flawed. He could've just walked away and said he's going to the NFL. He could've said his dad was actually the one who sold his loot.

But he didn't.

He took his lumps like a man, and he stepped up for his teammates — or "family" as he refers to them — when they needed it most.

"I think the main thing was definitely I didn't want to let the seniors down," Pryor said, following his MVP performance in Tuesday night's 31-26 Sugar Bowl win over Arkansas in New Orleans. "That's a tight group. And I didn't want to be so selfish to not come and play for the guys."

Pryor was incredible in the Buckeyes victory over the No. 8 Razorbacks, totaling 336 yards and two touchdown passes, while converting on a plethora of long third downs with both his arm and his legs.

He totally outplayed Arkansas star quarterback Ryan Mallett, as well — a player who is being touted as a first round NFL draft choice.

So does that make Pryor an NFL first rounder? Should he just bolt to the league, you know, since he's going to miss five games in his senior year anyways?

"I don't think I'm really ready for the NFL," Pryor said. "I think I've got a lot of learning and better decision making I have to make, on and off the field."

Basically, Pryor said he's got some work to do, and it doesn't all have to do with passing mechanics and reading defenses.

"I think I need to grow up a little more and mature as well in that standpoint," Pryor said. "So I just have a lot of growing up to do. And we'll take steps.

"I talked to Coach (Jim) Tressel and we have a plan going down and I have to follow it exactly how he put it."

Tressel is ready for his quarterback to take it to the next level.

"I'm looking forward," Tressel said. "As (Pryor) mentioned, we've got a plan. And if we'll stick with our plan, we'll be fine. And that's what we plan to do."

We may not see Pryor in a Buckeyes uniform until October 8, but I have a sense that when we do, we're going to see a motivated, more mature player on the field ... and off it.