The current issues, speculation and ongoing investigation at The Ohio State University is about to feel the effects of a nuclear meltdown at the core. While there will be no deaths from radiation, the fallout of casualties will spread into several areas and the effects could be felt for years.
It is amazing that one person or a small group of individuals can cripple an athletic department by making some poor decisions. On Tuesday, the once prominent quarterback and team leader Terrelle Pryor, made the statement that his decision to forgo his senior year was out of “the best interests of my teammates.”
It all started with receiving free tattoos and swapping memorabilia with the owner of a Columbus tattoo shop. It then moved on to driving cars with dealer plates, the most recent being a black sports car. And finally there was the signing of mini-helmets, jerseys and other Ohio State memorabilia with a frequent visitor to his home in the exchange for cash. According to a video interview by ESPN’s Outside the Lines, one of Pryor’s former friends was quoted as saying, “He received $500.00 – $1,000.00 three or four times a week.” Per a campus source, the totals could reach $30,000 to $50,000 or more. I’m sure the IRS might have a few questions for Pryor.
The fallout will permeate throughout the locker room, into the community and throughout Buckeye Nation. But before it leaves the campus, the athletic department will see some changes. Gene Smith, the athletic director at Ohio State, is as nervous as a whore in church. As one source told me, Mr. Smith is a “fired man walking.” As the sun rises in the morning and fades to the horizon in the evening, there is a strong chance Smith will soon be known as the former athletic director of Ohio State University.
Smith is not the only man feeling the pressure. The university’s president, boosters, regents and donors are all worried about the possibility of Pryor’s deep ball that might knock over several big cones while telling his version of the events from the day he stepped onto the OSU campus. The question is whether or not individuals connected with Ohio State pressured Pryor to leave, paid him to be quiet or strongly encouraged him to forego his senior season and move on before the NCAA and their investigators, which rival those that work for the FBI, come calling.
Now, with that chapter closed, the question is whether he has the skill-set to play in the NFL. After watching three films, two of which were from the 2009 season, the following is my report on the young man from Jeannette, Pa.
I talked to several sources throughout Buckeye Nation, including on campus and within the athletic department, about Pryor’s leadership qualities, both in-season and offseason workout habits and how he blends in with his teammates in the locker room. I also inquired about his mental toughness and his ability to take hard coaching and football intelligence (student of the game, ability to process information fast, along with playbook memorization). Actually, I will let the NFL clubs worry about that. My main focus was breaking him down on film.
Pryor has an exceptional combination of height, weight and speed for the position. He is 6-6 and he weighs 235 pounds with a long wing span. He has excellent athletic ability, change of direction with burst and acceleration. A long-strider with good speed, not great, he covers a lot of ground quickly. Natural footwork in three-, five-, and seven-step drops, carrying the ball numbers high on all drops. Good set-up quickness with pocket awareness feels pressure with the ability to slide and escape and is a downfield threat on any given play. He is a big-play runner with vision to backside cut and ability to reverse the field, weaving through traffic with production. Will benefit from NFL tutelage on delivery, release and mechanics with inconsistent transferring of weight and tends to short stride. Throwing motion is over the shoulder, three-quarters follow through. Accuracy both short and deep is erratic at times, despite flashing big-play ability through the air with good arm strength.
Will need development in read recognition of defensive coverages both pre-snap and on the move, clock management and the complete understanding of protections. His decision-making is inconsistent, seems to be a one read then run offense at times, allowing the best athlete to have the ball each play. Pryor will need time, development and should hold the clipboard for a few years to really learn the game while honing his skills for the NFL game. He projects to be a fifth- to seventh-round pick in the supplemental draft.
I reached out to several personnel men including general managers, directors and scouts on their viewpoints of this young man. This is what they had to say:
“Thought he had a chance after his sophomore season, but seemed to regress last year. Would start him at QB first, his mind set won’t allow for a position change. Good kid that made bad decisions, salvageable.”
“A bad ball machine, athlete but not the athlete of (Cam) Newton. Looks too big to play receiver in the NFL; don’t know if he can catch or has the stomach to be a blocker.”
“He is a project despite the numbers and is not very accurate. Would be surprised if a team invests more than a fourth- or fifth-round pick.”
Pryor had a 31-4 record in three seasons, along with three Big Ten titles and three victories over Michigan and several bowl appearances. Those glory days are over, and his legacy will forever be tainted, and if they could strike his name from the OSU football and Big Ten record books they would. It’s all because he and other student athletes felt they were above the rules governed by the school and the NCAA. They were defiant, arrogant, and selfish. The NCAA is not done cleaning house, and don’t rule out problems with the law when all the dust clears. His lawyer, Larry James, will be extremely busy for the next several months.