Friday, June 29, 2012

ALL-TIME BUCKEYES: QUARTERBACK

Terrelle Pryor (The Buckeye Times/Darla Dunkle-Hudnell)
On Thursday I listed the starting linebackers on my All-Time Ohio State football team, stating that it was the most difficult position to construct.

Today's selection, however, wasn't too hard for me to choose but I think it may be the most controversial, argued about position on the team — quarterback.

There have been Buckeye signal callers who have won national championships at Ohio State, were named first-team All-American and All-Conference, and even one that copped a Heisman Trophy.

But none of those players were who I selected to run the show for my team under center. In fact, the quarterback I chose isn't even welcome by many in Buckeye Nation ...

(Note: In case you haven't read the previous columns of my team, I have added a recap of my previous picks at the end of the article.)

QUARTERBACK 
Pryor
TBT/Darla Dunkle-Hudnell
Terrelle Pryor (2008-10)
In three seasons at Ohio State, Pryor went 31-4 as a starter — including 2-0 in BCS bowl games, where he won Most Valuable Player honors in both outings. Pryor threw for 6,177 yards (3rd in school history) in his career for the Buckeyes and 57 touchdown passes (T-1st). He also added an all-time OSU record for quarterbacks with 2,164 yards rushing and 17 scores. His career completion percentage of (.609) is the third-best in OSU history.

He was also unbeaten against arch-rival Michigan (3-0), where he guided the Buckeyes past the Wolverines by a combined score of 33-8. Pryor also led Ohio State to at least a share of the Big Ten title in every season for which he played. 

Pryor was even a two-time Academic All-Big Ten selection.

I SELECTED HIM BECAUSE ... He simply puts more pressure on an opposing defense than any other quarterback — or player for that matter — who's ever worn a Buckeye uniform.

Pryor was 6-foot-6, 240 pounds, could run like a deer (4.33 in the forty), swat away defensive ends like they were gnats, and could keep the secondary on their toes with his big right arm. He is the most physically gifted quarterback to ever play in Columbus ... and it's not even close.

However, Pryor is also by far the most scrutinized player that's ever suited up at Ohio State — or college football even. I'll give you an example ...

Troy Smith is hailed by most as the greatest quarterback to ever play at Ohio State. Many will point to his Heisman Trophy-winning 2006 season as the reason why, being that he led the Buckeyes to an undefeated regular season and a trip to the BCS Championship game, while tallying 2,746 yards (2,542 passing) and 31 total touchdowns. He also completed his passes at a 65.3-percent rate.

However, the Buckeyes would be crushed by Florida in the title game, 41-14. Smith was 4-of-14 passing in the defeat and recorded just six total yards. The Buckeyes ended the season 12-1.

In 2010, Pryor totaled 3,526 yards — 780 more than Smith in 2006 — scored 31 total touchdowns (the same as Smith) and also completed his throws at a 65-percent clip. 

But unlike Smith, Pryor shined in his BCS bowl appearance, tallying 336 yards and two touchdown passes en route to being named Most Valuable Player of the Buckeyes' Sugar Bowl win over Arkansas. Like in 2006, the Buckeyes ended the season 12-1.

The reason I used these two seasons as my examples of "scrutiny" is that Smith and Pryor had very similar campaigns. In fact, one could say Pryor's was more successful. And yet, Smith wins the Heisman, while Pryor doesn't even receive a single vote. Smith is revered in Columbus, while Pryor is ostracized.

Many fans label Pryor as a program killer for accepting improper benefits, while completely forgetting the fact that Smith accepted money as well early in his career at Ohio State that resulted in suspension. The difference is, Pryor's was more publicized because he was more well-known. Outside of Buckeye circles, most in the country didn't even know Smith existed.

The bottom line is, I selected Pryor because ultimately he gives my team the best chance to win. His physical gifts cannot be denied, and contrary to popular belief, he was a winner and a true big-game player. 

Numbers don't lie!
Tomorrow on my All-Time Buckeyes squad: Head coach.

If you would like to comment, debate or offer up your opinions, you can contact me at lee@bryantimes.com or on Twitter @LeeHudnell_TBT.