March 19, 2008

Pryor Is Official

It was the worst kept secret in Buckeye Nation, but OSU fans were still holding their collective breath until noon today, when Terrelle Pryor pulled on the Block 'O' cap at his press conference. Here's Adam Jardys story at scout.com. And yes, he really did say "The University of Ohio State."

The 17 year-old phenom quarterback also said something at the announcement about waking up this morning and "thinking about Michigan." Pryor went on to say some generally complimentary things about Rodriguez and the Wolverine program. Clearly the young man needs to break himself of that habit in short order. From now on, "that school up north" will do nicely.

I think all the Michigan talk was for show. This thing has been over for months, if not since the Spring Game last year, when Pryor began to forge fast friendships with Mike Brewster and Devier Posey, and met and talked with Troy Smith. The Michigan official visit over two months ago didn't go that well, and Wolverine coach Rodriguez offered and got a commitment from another dual-threat quarterback a few days after Pryor left town. I'm aware of no developments since that would have changed the status quo there, although Pryor admitted that Michigan coach Rich Rodriguez was hard at it right till the end.

The delay was to have allowed Pryor time to take a closer look at the home-state school, Penn State. In the six weeks since signing day, Pryor has led his team to the state basketball championship, and also dealt with a heart attack suffered by his father, but he managed to make it to Columbus one weekend for a Buckeye basketball game, where he sat with coaches and other 2008 Buckeye commits, and met with Tressel.

I don't know what communication took place between Joe Paterno's staff and Terrelle Pryor in those six weeks, but he never took an official visit to Happy Valley before sending his letter of intent to Ohio State this morning. Pryor has been to Penn State several times of course, and only agreed to delay his considered commitment to Ohio State in deference to the wishes of his father, who had been showered with attention by the PSU coaches. His father's heart trouble, and the continued good work of Tressel and his staff to win over Pryor's circle of family and advisors to the merits of OSU, combined to make the Penn State trip moot. Pryor knew where he wanted to be.

All along, in fact, Pryor has confided to friends that he intended to go to Ohio State. It has been great fun though, watching national sports networks, high school recruiting experts and commentators talk as if it was still a horse race, either too out of touch to know better, or just trying to keep the story alive and being unwilling to state the obvious.

ESPN was characteristically clueless, at least outwardly so, about Pryor's intentions.

He also eliminated two schools but failed to mention them.

One of the schools he tossed aside was Penn State, where he forged a solid relationship with defensive coordinator Tom Bradley. Ultimately, Happy Valley was no place for a city kid.

"I don't like that place," he said of Penn State's rural location. "It's the country but they were in it."

He discounted Oregon "because it's across the country. I have a father and (high school) coaches here who can drive three hours to see me play rather than watch it on TV."

As for Michigan, recently hired coach Rich Rodriguez put on full-press coverage to sway Pryor, and in the end was difficult to say no. "Coach Rod was still recruiting me this morning, saying all the things," Pryor said.

My hearing of what he said there was slightly different. I thought he said "Coach Rod was still recruiting me this morning, saying all the lines." He has to be weary of hearing all of "the lines" In fact, nobody seemed more relieved that this process was over than Pryor himself.

Pryor also talked of getting Coach Tressel "over..that hump." That's all we wanted to hear, Terrelle. Welcome to Columbus!

Posted by dan at March 19, 2008 8:25 PM