Tressel Talks Pryor’s Spring Progress
By Brandon Castel
It has been two years since Terrelle Pryor committed to Ohio State.
Photo by Jim Davidson
With that decision came expectations. After all, Pryor wasn’t just the best high school player in the country, he was looked at as one of those once-in-a-decade type players that change the face of a program.
A Vince Young or a Tim Tebow.
A player who is larger than life and seems to inspire the uninspired, capturing the imagination of college football fans everywhere while leading his team to glory and fame.
At least that’s what it looked like to the outside world. Inside the walls of the Woody Hayes Athletic Center, however, there were much different expectations of what Pryor could bring to the Buckeye football program.
“I don’t know that I expected him after two years to have been the quarterback on two Big Ten Championship teams and taken us to two BCS games,” OSU Head Coach Jim Tressel said Tuesday during his teleconference.
“I don’t know that I thought, ‘Oh boy that is going to be a walk in the park to do that.’ Now am I surprised that he has been able to be a part of that? No. I don’t know that I thought that was going to be an automatic.”
Tressel almost certainly didn’t expect Pryor would be under center for the Buckeyes by the fourth game of his rookie season, but a 35-3 thrashing at USC sent shockwaves through the team that resulted with Pryor replacing incumbent Todd Boeckman as the starting quarterback in 2008. They went on to win eight of their next nine games, including a 42-7 beat-down of archrival Michigan, before falling 24-21 to Texas in the Fiesta Bowl.
Last season, Pryor guided the Buckeyes to an 11-2 record and 26-17 win over Oregon in the Rose Bowl.
“He has been fortunate to get opportunities to play and he has remained fairly healthy. To have that number of games under his belt at this point in his career is pretty good,” Tressel said of Pryor, who is 19-3 as a starter at Ohio State.
“Now he is a junior and the expectations here raise a little bit, here meaning within the walls of the folks who are doing this every day. Obviously people outside have had expectations from day one, but our expectations are certainly rising.”
Many outside those walls would point to Pryor’s MVP performance in the Rose Bowl as the reason for heightened expectations amongst Tressel and the coaching staff. Instead, Tressel pointed to the progress he has seen out of his junior quarterback over the first half of spring practice.
“I think he has also done a good job of having a lot better recognition and understanding for the progression for receivers all the way down to the check-downs,” Tressel said.
“And I think when you’re young as the quarterback you try to memorize ‘Who is my primary read’ and those kinds of things and the older you get you know as you watch the defense who may be number one, two, and three and where do you find that guy in case everything is covered down the field and you need to check it down and I think he has done a good job of growing in that area.”
Tuesday marked the eighth practice of the spring for Tressel and the Buckeyes, so naturally some of what the coaches are seeing out of Pryor goes back to the off-season, or even before that to the work Pryor put in getting ready to face the Ducks in Pasadena.
“I think just in general his calmness and his command has improved through the course of these first seven practices and I think it really began heading in that direction during the month-long bowl practice as well,” said Tressel, who sees more than just a mental improvement to Pryor’s game.
“He really has done a good job of working on his feet, he has done a good job of keeping his feet patient and as he has grown to experience more and learn more about how people try to defend us and so forth, he has done a good job of keeping his feet in sync with that thought process.”
That said, there is still plenty for Pryor to work on over the last half of spring practice along with the summer and on into fall camp.
“I think the back half of this spring and then on into that time in between spring practice and pre-season we have got to get a little bit better at our timing and that just takes more time spent with his receivers and just getting in the same rhythm as the receivers,” Tressel said.
“Growing to understand more and more of what we are doing and enhancing our tempo will be a critical thing. I think the other thing Terrelle will continue to work on and will be important for this team is to have him continue to emerge as a leader. I think the better you do your craft and the more you have confidence in your craft, the more you have a chance to be a leader.”
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