Jard Work: All About Pryor

It was a big week for Terrelle Pryor sound bytes. Stepping back from the hype that has surrounded Pryor's plans both to return for his season and to suit up for the Ohio State men's basketball team this season, BuckeyeSports.com staff writer Adam Jardy offers his take on both situations in this week's edition of "Jard Work."

By now, you have no doubt heard of Terrelle Pryor's announced plans to return for his senior season. The quotes have been spirited across the country and Ohio State fans everywhere have breathed sighs of relief that the former No. 1 recruit in the country will reprise his role as starting quarterback next season.

Fans of the men's basketball program are excited, meanwhile, about the thought of seeing the former four-star hoops prospect lacing up his shoes to play for the Buckeyes this season.

I'm here to tell you that if you believe either of these scenarios are set in stone, I've got a used car to sell you.

The topic of Pryor's senior season was not something he offered without prompting. On a teleconference Wednesday afternoon, the junior said, "I'll be a Buckeye until I break all the records" when asked about his future plans.

He then met face-to-face with local reporters, and the first question was what would change his mind about next season.

"I don't know," he said. "I don't know that anything could change that. I think my mind is pretty set. I enjoy being around here. I want to grow up even more out in the world and learn a lot more things rather than jumping in."

Notice, he did not say "nothing." There is plenty of wiggle room there.

Later, he was asked when he had reached his decision.

"It would be hard being away from a lot of guys I've been around," he said. "I want to get my degree as well so I can finish that up. I just want to have a legacy here, maybe someday get my jersey hung up. That's one of my goals as well. I think I've got to develop my brain, my mind and the way I'm thinking, how I can control situations."

Where have we heard this before? Remember when Antonio Pittman told us how he would certainly be returning for his senior year so he could win a Heisman Trophy and put it in his high school? He even had the location picked out for it and everything. Or how about Anthony Gonzalez, who spent his entire junior season talking about how much his mother was looking forward to receiving a rose on senior day the following season?

Yeah, they left early. And then the likes of James Laurinaitis, Michael Doss and others did not leave early. It's a two-way street.

History might be on OSU's side. Since Scout.com began tracking recruits in 2002, only two No. 1 recruits have left school early: Vince Young (2002) and Jimmy Clausen (2007). However, the others did not for a variety of reasons unrelated to on-the-field success.

Mitch Mustain, the top recruit in 2006, is in his final season at USC after transferring from Arkansas while Rhett Bomar, the top prospect in 2004, was dismissed from Oklahoma and finished his career at Sam Houston State.

Mark Sanchez, the top prospect in 2005, played three seasons at USC but took a redshirt season, so he left with eligibility remaining. John David Booty, tops in 2003, simply did not make enough of an impact to leave early.

Does any of this mean that Pryor definitively will or will not leave school early? Absolutely not. All it means is that right now, Pryor thinks he will be coming back. Right now, before he has submitted paperwork to the NFL to gauge his draft status and before he has had time to sit down and discuss it at length with those closest to him, it is impossible to know exactly what he will decide.

Asked about Pryor's decision, head coach Jim Tressel said he was unaware of it and that the two had not discussed it.

"We just go day to day and try to progress the best we can," the coach said. "I'm sure in my mind that that's probably been his thinking all along."

Plus, I can not imagine him answering the question by saying, ‘Yes, I'm leaving early' with four games remaining in his junior campaign. What else is he supposed to say to a direct question on the topic?

None of this means Pryor is or is not coming back. All it means is that anything Pryor says on the topic right now is just words and nothing more. Let's give this one some time.

The Hoops Question – Pryor was intentionally vague Wednesday when asked about comments he made Tuesday on Twitter about joining the OSU men's basketball team this season. Pryor actually issued a verbal commitment to Pitt to play college basketball as a sophomore at Jeannette, Pa., before opting to shift his focus to football and reopening his recruitment.

In a tweet, Pryor asked senior forward David Lighty if there would be room for him this year, to which Lighty told him he could join the team after the Rose Bowl. Asked about this, Pryor's response was, "We're talking football."

Asked if he put that out simply to get a reaction, Pryor repeated, "We're talking football, sir. We'll talk about that at a later date."

The topic was abandoned until the final question of the interview, when a reporter asked about the later date when he could discuss playing basketball.

"I'm playing football right now," he said again, adding, "I was just throwing it out there. I think all the time. You never know. You might see me in black shoes and white socks on the court."

Friday morning, Tressel appeared on The Dan Patrick Show and said he would support Pryor playing basketball just like he would any athlete who wanted to play two sports. As long as that athlete can maintain his academics, he would have the coach's blessing.

At a fundraising event in mid-October, head men's basketball coach Thad Matta was asked if Pryor would ever join the team.

"I don't know," he said Oct. 20. "One thing I've always laughed about is if he would've came out, 19,000 people would have been telling me to put him in and I'm really not sure I'd want to deal with that."

Both Matta and Tressel, along with a few assistant coaches, made a trip to watch one of Pryor's high school games. Pryor was told he would have the opportunity to play both sports in college if he could handle everything on his plate.

Add Matta: "He was a very, very good basketball player coming out of high school. Had he chosen the basketball route, I think he would've been a very good college basketball player as well."

Whether Pryor wants to play basketball or not, another point to consider: would this year's team need him? It is hard to project a player who has not played competitive basketball in three years to be able to play any sort of key role on a team expected to challenge for a berth in the Final Four.

Think about it. Pryor has not been in a defensive stance since winning a state title as a senior. He has no knowledge of the OSU playbook. The need for a 6-6 wing who is not a strong shooter and is likely a defensive liability is nonexistent on a team like this one.

He may be a great athlete, but it is hard to see Pryor being any higher than the ninth or 10th player off the bench for Matta's team this season.


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