Braxton Miller can learn from Pryor's Departure

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Last updated: 06/08/2011 7:34 AM

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Football
Braxton Miller Can Learn Valuable Lesson From Pryor’s Departure
By Brandon Castel

COLUMBUS, Ohio — And so it begins.

Braxton Miller
Photo by Jim Davidson
Braxton Miller

With the news that Terrelle Pryor was leaving Ohio State, Braxton Miller immediately became the most popular name in Columbus.

The freshman quarterback was showered with praise on his Facebook and Twitter accounts from pleading Buckeye fans hoping for a bright future.

But will that future look any different than the past?

From the moment he arrived at Ohio State, Miller was already calling Pryor his “big brother.”

The two were inseparable during spring practice, with Miller getting “on the job training” from Pryor while he recovered from off-season foot surgery. 

Braxton Miller (5) with Terrelle Pryor
Photo by Jim Davidson
Braxton Miller and Terrelle Pryor

It seemed like a good idea to have the team’s three-year starter mentoring the true freshman in his first spring on campus, but if there is one thing Miller should take away from Pryor it is how not to spend his four years in Columbus.

On the field, Pryor was (almost) everything the Buckeyes could have hoped for when they signed the nation’s No. 1 prospect back in 2008. Anyone who saw him play at Jeannette knew that Pryor was not a polished passer in high school.

He didn’t have to be.

His freakish size and athleticism was enough to suck defenses up to the line of scrimmage and his arm was good enough to make them pay over the top. He was the perfect high school player, and while that didn’t make him the perfect college player, it did translate to wins.

A lot of them.

The Buckeyes won 33 games, three Big Ten titles and two BCS bowl games with Pryor at the helm. They broke the SEC “curse” and were one win away from playing for another national championship last season, but was it worth it?

For all his success on the field, Pryor never seemed to get what it was all about.

“I just didn't get that he was ever a true Buckeye,” former Ohio State coach Earle Bruce said on News Talk 610 WTVN in Columbus. 

“He seemed to be too much within himself. That's not part of a team approach or a leadership approach.”

Even from the beginning, Pryor never seemed to quite fit with the rest of the team. He clicked with certain guys, like DeVier Posey and Boom Herron, but the players who seemed interested in surrounded Pryor were far and few between.

He quickly embraced the celebrity status he had enjoyed even as a high school prospect, drawing out his recruitment beyond National Signing Day and into the spring before finally committing to “The University of Ohio State.” 

If the latest report from ESPN’s Outside the Lines is true, and Pryor’s decision to leave Ohio State on the day it was released suggests that there is some validity to it, then his legacy with the Buckeyes is forever tarnished.

His departure from the team may be a quick fix that helps the Ohio State community sleep better at night, but it doesn’t cut to the root of the problem. Ohio State, Gene Smith, Jim Tressel and Nic Siciliano coddled Pryor and protected him to the bitter end. If they didn’t create the monster, as former OSU quarterback Stanley Jackson suggested on 610 WTVN, then they at least cultivated it.

Braxton Miller would be wise to take notice. Terrelle Pryor may not have been the first one to commit these types of violations at Ohio State, and he certainly won’t be the last, but his sense of invincibility was his tragic flaw.

Right now, Miller may have that same feeling. Like Pryor, he was an unstoppable force at Wayne High School who led his team to the state championship game. Having started from his freshman year, Miller was one of the top-rated quarterback prospects in the country when he signed with the Buckeyes.

He is already being talked about as the heir to the throne in Columbus, but uneasy lies the head that wears a crown. Terrelle Pryor could not handle the responsibility that comes with being the star quarterback at Ohio State. He isn’t the first. Art Schlichter fought his own demons.

Pryor had his own ideas about what it meant to be a college athlete and seemed to think the rules did not apply. He was caught in the delusion that he was larger than life and more important than tradition.

He learned the hard way, but will his example keep Miller from having to do the same?


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