Pryor under fire.

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Last updated: 05/31/2011 5:07 PM

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Pryor Under Fire
With Tressel Gone, Are Pryor’s Days Numbered?
By Brandon Castel

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Ohio State may have rid themselves of one perceived headache Monday with the resignation of head football coach Jim Tressel, but another migraine could be right around the corner.

Terrelle Pryor's most recent ride. (Click for enlarged version)
Photo by Jim Davidson

On the same day his head coach, the man who brought him to Ohio State in the first place, was busy cleaning out his office at the Woody Hayes Athletic Center, Terrelle Pryor zoomed into the parking lot driving a shiny black Nissan 350Z with temporary tags and tinted windows.

Pryor has never been known as a prudent thinker. He once wore eye-black supporting Michael Vick, and then there was his famous “everyone kills people, murders people, steals from you, steals from me,” comments when asked about his support for Vick.

Monday’s appearance may have been yet another lapse in judgment from Ohio State’s star quarterback, or it may have been a sign that Pryor knows his days in Columbus are numbered.

A brand-new Nissan 350Z retails for somewhere between $25-40,000, depending on the specifications of the car. Pryor could have purchased a used one for somewhere around $15-20,000 or even leased one for about $400-450 a month, but he could not have picked a worse time to drive a flashy car to a players-only meeting at the team’s practice facility.

With Tressel finally undone by the tidal wave of allegations against his program, the player at the center of many of those allegations may now come under fire. The Columbus Dispatch is reporting that the NCAA and Ohio State are looking into whether Pryor received cars and other extra benefits, which makes the timing of his new vehicle particularly astonishing.  

Already suspended the first five games of the 2011 season, Pryor is now being connected to as many as six vehicles during his time in Columbus.

“Pryor and the cars he drives have been an issue since he arrived on campus three years ago,” The Dispatch story said.

“Pryor has been connected to more than a half dozen vehicles during his time at Ohio State, according to sources.”

Make it a half dozen and one.

The Dispatch reported in January that Pryor had been stopped three times for traffic violations over the past three years, each time driving cars that were owned by a car salesman or a Columbus used-car dealership where the salesman worked.

Most of them were connected to Jack Maxton Chevrolet salesman Aaron Kniffin. Although he insists he never offered Pryor or any other Ohio State players a special discount, Kniffin did admit to loaning a number of cars to Pryor, either to test drive or because his car was being worked on.

When he appeared on ESPN’s Outside the Lines, Kniffin said Pryor was driving a white Hyundai Sonata when they met, but wanted a better car. So in 2008, Pryor’s freshman season at Ohio State, Kniffin loaned him a 2004 GMC Yukon Denali.

Pryor didn’t buy the Denali, nor did he buy the Dodge Charger he was “test driving” because Ohio State officials wouldn’t allow him.

“They wouldn't let him drive it because it was too high-profile,” Kniffin said.

So instead he is driving a Nissan 350Z? It’s almost as if Pryor is announcing to the word that he is ready to be done with Ohio State, and they may be ready to be done with him.

One of the most highly-coveted recruits in college football history, Pryor has one season left to live up to his monumental hype. He may not get the chance. The 6-6, 230 pound quarterback is one of five Buckeyes suspended for the first five games of the 2011 season for accepting improper benefits from Edward Rife, the owner of a local tattoo parlor.

According to Ohio State, Pryor gave Rife his 2008 Big Ten championship ring, 2009 Fiesta Bowl sportsmanship award and 2008 pair of Gold Pants for OSU’s victory over Michigan in exchange for cash and tattoos.

Apparently, that’s not all he gave Rife.

In their latest piece on the Ohio State investigation, Sports Illustrated quotes an unnamed source who worked for Rife. He estimates that Pryor alone brought Rife “more than 20 items,” ­including game-worn shoulder pads, multiple helmets, Nike cleats, jerseys, game pants and more.

The source wanted anonymity for fear of retribution from Rife who recently pled guilty to two charges stemming from a federal drug-trafficking investigation, says he asked Pryor how he was able to take so much gear from the university's equipment room.

Pryor’s alleged response was, “I get whatever I want.”

If that was truly Pryor’s mentality, then it is scary to think what all might actually be behind the curtain.

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