"I knew it was definitely (Ohio State) when I was holding my phone up to someone else back home who had a phone to the TV and he announced that it was Ohio State," Tressel said during a teleconference from an unidentified vacation spot Wednesday afternoon. "That's when I knew for sure. It was an exciting moment.
"It's not like I've been sitting here nice and relaxed that that game was over because when you're talking about great schools like the ones he was considering, the game is never over."
But the game indeed now is over, with Pryor choosing the Buckeyes over a final four that included Michigan, Penn State and Oregon, the final two of which Pryor never visited officially. Yet Scout's top prospect in the class of 2008 pushed back his college decision by more than a month to give more consideration to those two schools and to focus on his basketball career, but in the end Ohio State was the choice.
The quarterback from Jeannette, Pa., who led his team to WPIAL and PIAA championships in both basketball and football during his senior year, is expected to take a visit to the Ohio State campus during the team's spring practices, which begin March 27, and enroll at OSU in time for summer quarter 2008, which begins June 16.
Though Tressel said he was in the dark as to the decision until the final moments, Pryor's choice of Ohio State was not that much of a surprise.
"We always felt that Terrelle had a good feeling about Ohio State," said the coach who will enter his eighth season. "I think he really likes (QB coach) Joe Daniels and I know the players on our current team that he had a chance to meet over the course of time he certainly enjoyed. And I know the guys in his particular class forged quite a bond when they were able to play an all-star game together, so we've always felt that Terrelle had a warm feeling."
With his last sentence, Tressel made reference to the "Brew Crew," the group of 2008 commits led by Michael Brewster that became close to Pryor and hung out with him both at the U.S. Army All-American game in January and a February basketball game that Pryor checked out on the OSU campus with teammate and class of 2009 running back Jordan Hall.
When it comes to the on-field impact of Pryor, Tressel spoke highly of the 6-6, 225-quarterback's ability to throw the football, which many have said is the prospect's weakness. With a 4.4-second 40-yard dash to his credit and moves that allowed him to rush for 4,238 yards in his career, Pryor has been compared to former Texas national title winning signal caller Vince Young, but Tressel said not to sleep on the arm that allowed Pryor to throw for 4,340 yards at Jeannette.
"It's interesting, that was the first thing that everyone started saying when he was a young high school quarterback because at that time Vince was at his college heyday, and they have similar attributes," Tressel said of the comparison with the current Tennessee Titans quarterback. "What Joe Daniels felt when we had him in youth camp was that his ability to throw the football was much greater than some of those comparisons.
"Coach (Ray) Reitz and his staff, Coach Roy Hall the quarterbacks coach and all those guys, they run a diverse offense there at Jeannette and they throw it from a lot of different ways. They played 16 games two years in a row so he's gotten to throw a lot of footballs."
As for Pryor's ability to see the field during his first campaign, he will have to fight with incumbent senior quarterback Todd Boeckman, who threw for 25 touchdowns during his first season as a starter. Tressel said that while Pryor might have had an easier path to the starting role at another school, he has the attitude to fit into the current OSU system.
"I think his passion is to make it impossible for us not to put him in the football game," Tressel said. "That's what's exciting with a guy with goals. He didn't want you to promise him that. He didn't necessarily want to go where they say, ‘Hey, you're the guy,' because he's very sensitive to his teammates and he wants to earn everything he gets."
Should he force the issue when it comes to playing time, many feel that he could split time with Boeckman and fulfill the role of Tim Tebow to Boeckman's Chris Leak, a nod to the 2006 Florida team that used the dual-QB structure to defeat OSU to win the 2006 national title. Tressel was noncommittal, however, when asked if that is a plan he has concocted for Pryor.
"The thing that you need to do as a coaching staff is get the people on the field that can make plays and design things for what people are ready to do, and he's excited about learning the offense and he's excited about helping in any way he can and he has great respect for Todd Boeckman and all the rest of the guys," Tressel said. "He has the ability to be a great dropback passer, a great play-action passer. He's obviously a guy that can make plays with his feet and all the rest, but we just think that his upside and his future are tremendous and we won't have to add a whole bunch because we don't know that there's much that we don't do."
"They have a great respect for what he brings to the table," Tressel said. "Knowing those guys as I know them, I'm not sure that I've seen better competitors than those guys."
Tressel also would not say that beating out rival Michigan, against whom he is 6-1 since taking over, added any particular thrill to the fact that Pryor donned a black Ohio State cap at his press conference Wednesday. Instead, he was most happy about the fact that even after an extra month of rumination, Pryor chose to continue his career in Columbus.
"That makes it very satisfying, that it was about as thorough a search as he could possibly make and through all that thorough search we were the victors," Tressel said.