A Good Batch Of Advice

The life of a high-profile football recruit is rife with people dying to give you advice on all kinds of topics. While it can be hard to figure out who to trust and who not to trust, Terrelle Pryor, the nation's top quarterback prospect, has found a mentor in the Pittsburgh Steelers' Charlie Batch.

It always helps to have someone who has been there before to help guide a person along a new path.

That remains the case even when that person is the nation's top quarterback prospect and has his team poised to win a state championship.

A chance meeting on a basketball court several years ago has led to Jeannette, Pa., quarterback Terrelle Pryor finding a mentor in Charlie Batch, a native of western Pennsylvania and now the primary backup to Ben Roethlisberger and the Pittsburgh Steelers. Now, as Pryor chases a title and prepares himself to select a college, he knows he can lean on someone who has gone through many of the same situations he is currently experiencing.

"He's a good man and I talk to him on the phone," Pryor said. "I'll be talking to him to get some pointers and just see what's going on."

As a sophomore in 1989, Batch won a state championship while playing for Steel Valley in Homestead. He went on to play for Eastern Michigan and is now in his tenth year in the NFL after spending the first four years of his career as the primary starter for the Detroit Lions. Batch has 49 NFL starts to his credit and has passed for 9,815 yards and 55 touchdowns.

Although he was not sure of the exact year when they first met, Batch said he first met Pryor a few years ago. The native of Homestead, Pa., which is located about 30 miles west of Jeannette, has been running a basketball camp for the past six years.

It was there the two first met, and it did not take long for Batch to see Pryor's natural talents. It also helped that one of the Steelers' coaches hailed from Jeannette and was raving to Batch about Pryor's talents at a young age.

"It was one of those deals that you could just see the talent was there," Batch said. "When I got a chance to see him, they would put him at quarterback until they got to the red zone. They couldn't really run the ball at that point, so they would split him out at wide receiver and throw the jump ball up to him."

That wouldn't come until later, however. First, Batch just saw Pryor on the hardwood, where it was not hard to imagine his skills crossing over to the gridiron.

"He has a feel for it, but that comes from playing basketball too," Batch said. "You have to find a lane to be able to dunk the ball like he's able to dunk it. You have to be able to see those creases. They go hand in hand. You have to have that vision."

There appear to be few doubts about Pryor's vision. With just the state championship game left to play, the 6-6, 210-pound athlete has surpassed 4,000 yards both rushing and passing in his prep career, making him the first player in WPIAL history to do so.

On the basketball court, Pryor will begin his senior season shortly after the football season is completed. As a junior, he averaged 21.2 points, 10.0 rebounds, 7.0 assists and 3.0 steals per game on the hardwood. He is planning to attempt to play both sports in college.

But while his achievements in both sports have been impressive, Batch said he is most impressed with how hard Pryor works off the field.

"I can see what he's doing now, but I think more important is the work ethic that he's putting in prior to it," he said. "You don't just show up on gameday and all of a sudden expect to put it in. That's where all the other things, the weight room, the film work, the offseason programs that he went through to get to this point (pay off)."

Jeannette head coach Ray Reitz said he has noticed the relationship between Pryor and Batch helping Pryor's development.

"I think it's good that he can talk to him," Reitz said. "Anytime you've got a pro football player that's gone through everything, (it helps). Anybody that has been through it can give him information and help him with the experience."

Through their conversations, one topic that is never brought up is where Pryor might wind up playing in college.

Instead, Batch said he tells Pryor to make sure he takes advantage of every opportunity available to him while still in high school.

"My only advice is to have fun and everything will take care of itself," Batch said. "Don't go out and worry about all the other stuff. You've got to go out there and have fun and be yourself.

"Enjoy your senior year. That's what I tell him to do. Play football and basketball and get ready for the prom."


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