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Last updated: 06/10/2011 9:42 AM

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Football
What’s Next for Pryor?
Future Unclear for Former Star Prospect
By Brandon Castel

COLUMBUS, Ohio — The last time Terrelle Pryor was a “free agent,” he was the most coveted quarterback prospect in the country.

Terrelle Pryor
Photo by Dan Harker
Terrelle Pryor

His exceptional size and athleticism had nearly every team in the country lining up for a shot at landing a 6-6 quarterback who could run and throw. College coaches had to mop up the drool under their seats after watching Pryor run over and around high school defenders like they weren’t even there, but all that drool has long since dried.

After an up-and-down college career at Ohio State, Pryor will attempt to take his abilities to the next level. This time around, there will be far fewer teams and much less fanfare for an unpolished quarterback with plenty of baggage from the turbulent end to his college career.

“Some time ago I put up a top-100 list (for the 2012 draft) and I had Pryor right around 100 on that list,” NFL.com draft analyst Gil Brandt told The Associated Press.

“And that was before all of this came to fruition.”

Pryor had planned to return to Ohio State for his senior season in Columbus despite the fact he faced a five-game suspension to start the year, but the resignation of OSU Head Coach Jim Tressel set forth a chain of events which ultimately altered Pryor’s decision.

After three years as the starting quarterback in Columbus, Pryor left the university Tuesday, declaring that he would forgo his senior season at Ohio State.

His rights were quickly acquired by the Saskatchewan Roughriders of the Canadian Football league, but Pryor has little interest in playing Canadian football. He turned down a preliminary offer from the Roughriders on Thursday with his eyes set on the National Football League.

“He's definitely looking at the supplemental draft,” Pryor’s lawyer, Larry James, told The Associated Press.

The NFL’s Supplemental Draft, which began in 1977 as a way for players who developed issues affecting their eligibility after the regular draft, would be held in July, assuming it is not impacted by the ongoing labor dispute.

The Buckeyes have not had a player taken in the supplemental draft since Cris Carter went to the Philadelphia Eagles in 1987 after being ruled ineligible for signing with an agent.

No player has been selected higher than the third round of the supplemental draft since 2003, when the Houston Texans took Georgia Tech running back Tony Hollings in round two.

That is unlikely to change in 2011.

“I would be surprised if somebody took him before the fifth round in a supplemental draft,” ESPN college-football analyst and former OSU linebacker Chris Spielman told The Associated Press.

“That's the obvious statement that you're not ready to play (but) you'll maybe have an opportunity to grow into the job. Right now, he's not close. That's not to say he can't get there, but right now he's not ready to play at all in the NFL.”

Accord to Yahoo! Sports writer Jason Cole, who covered the Miami Dolphins for 15 years, many NFL executives are worried about his passing ability and have “downright disdain” for his perceived character flaws.

“We spent a lot of time this year going through Cam Newton and Ryan Mallett’s personality,” an NFC general manager told Cole.

“I haven’t done all my homework on Pryor yet, but my initial impression is that if you line all three of them up and just talked about trust and reliability, Pryor is dead last. Like not-even-out-of-the-starting-gate last.

“And it’s probably only going to get worse.”

Cole also spoke with one NFC head coach, who did want his name used because NFL officials are currently prohibited from speaking publically about players who have not yet declared for the NFL.

“The more you read about this guy with the cars and the tattoos and money and all that other stuff … Look, we all know how the college game works and what those (coaches) have to deal with, but this kid sounds like he didn’t give a damn about anybody,” he said.

“He was just there for himself. He didn’t even try to hide it. He flaunted it. If you’re like that, it’s hard to be a quarterback.”

Because of his 6-6 frame and remarkable athletic ability, Pryor often draws comparison to former Auburn quarterback Cam Newton, who was taken with the No. 1 overall pick in the 2011 NFL Draft by the Carolina panthers. The two quarterbacks wore the same number and even look similar on the field, but that doesn’t mean they have similar potential in the eyes of NFL executives.

“Side by side, Pryor and Newton probably look identical. Same height. Newton is a little stronger; Pryor might be a little faster. But when you put them on the field, the results are different,” one NFC executive told Cole.

“Pryor was really good playing in the Big Ten. Newton was great playing in the SEC.”

In his one season at Auburn, Newton guided the Tigers to an undefeated season and the BCS national championship. He also won the Heisman Trophy, which was something many expected from Pryor when he committed to play for the Buckeyes back in 2008.

Now Pryor may be looking at a position change if he wants to make it at the next level.

ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper has projected Pryor as a tight end at the next level, but Spielman doesn’t see that as a logical fit for a lifelong quarterback.

“I keep hearing people say tight end, but I don’t see how you can take a guy who never blocked down on an outside linebacker or doubled down on a defensive lineman and say you’re going to be a tight end,” said Spielman, who played 11 seasons in the NFL.

“I do think he’ll get drafted in the supplemental draft, but I’ll be surprised if it’s under the fifth round. He’ll get a shot, but whether he develops into a quarterback, that remains to be seen. I do think the odds are against him developing into that type of player.”

That would basically leave him with wide receiver, a position many have projected for him at the next level since his freshman season at Ohio State. Pryor caught a touchdown pass from Todd Boeckman in the 2009 Fiesta Bowl against Texas. He also caught one a year ago from tailback Jordan Hall, but Pryor has very little experience running routes or getting off the line against a press defense.

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