Pryor Makes It Official

On National Signing Day, it appeared that Penn State had scored a major coup and prevented Terrelle Pryor from signing a letter of intent to play football at Ohio State. Just more than six weeks later, the nation's top quarterback went ahead and became a Buckeye at a press conference at his high school in Jeannette, Pa.

JEANNETTE, PA. – And on the sixth week, he decided.

At a press conference in his high school's gymnasium on National Signing Day, Terrelle Pryor told assembled reporters and a national television audience that he had not decided where he would be going to college. Six weeks and one day later in another section of his high school, Pryor donned a black Block ‘O' hat and made his announcement to applause from the assembled crowd.

He was going to become a Buckeye.

The decision came after a recruiting process that dragged on past signing day until the top prospect in the country could finish out his basketball season with a state championship. However, the stated goals as of signing day were not met during the six weeks.

Instead, Pryor went with where he simply felt more comfortable – and he did not make his final decision until the morning of his announcement, signing his national letter-of-intent shortly after noon.

"I just broke it down and got involved with a lot of the kids there," he said. "I felt comfortable with Coach Tressel. It was my choice."

Pryor was set to announce for OSU on the eve of signing day, but he had a disagreement with his father, Craig. The elder Pryor wanted his son to take an official visit to Penn State, and as a result the final decision was postponed so a trip could be scheduled. In addition, a trip to Oregon was put on the itinerary as well.

But just four days after leading his team to the basketball championship, Pryor opted to announce for OSU without taking either of those planned official visits. Oregon was deemed too far, while PSU simply did not materialize. On Wednesday, his father said his desire on signing day was simply for his son to be certain of his decision regardless of which team he selected.

Pryor consulted a number of people for advice. In addition to his parents, Jeannette head coach Ray Reitz and quarterbacks coach Roy Hall served as advisors, as did NFL quarterback Charlie Batch.

That might not have been the best news for the Buckeyes, however. Both Reitz and Batch felt Michigan was the right choice for Pryor. So, too, did a handful of NFL scouts and coaches Pryor said he consulted with on the eve of signing day.

"I'm an 18-year-old kid and I feel like a man," he said. "I've got to make choices myself. (People) prayed for me and said to ask God and He'll give you an answer. You can't always take what everyone else wants. You have to do what you want. That's what I did."

All are firmly on his side now that he has selected the Buckeyes, however. Both his parents wore Ohio State shirts, while Reitz was attired in a scarlet turtleneck.

Although he was on vacation, OSU head coach Jim Tressel held a teleconference to discuss the 20th and final member of his 2008 recruiting class.

"It is an exciting day for the Buckeyes," he said. "We're so proud of Terrelle Pryor choosing this football family, and it's been wonderful working with his coaching staff and his family. He's had quite an ambitious time here with 16 football games and a state championship and a bunch of basketball games and a state championship and trying to make a decision for his future, so we're so proud of him. We think he's handled it tremendously well.

"His mom and dad are excited, and we couldn't be happier."

Pryor appeared much more relaxed than he did on signing day. Seated onstage in his school's auditorium, he answered questions from reporters for nearly half an hour. At times tossing off jokes and teasing those in the crowd and at other times guarded – such as when asked about his on-court scuffles en route to the basketball state championship – he said he would have preferred to get his decision out of the way much sooner to avoid the stress he has endured in the past few months.

While he claimed to not have a leader throughout the entire process, Pryor was viewed as an OSU lean for the last several months. In the end, it came down to the Buckeyes and their primary rival, the Wolverines. They were the only two schools he visited officially.

Pryor gushed about the Buckeyes but also expressed his regret at not being able to suit up for Michigan head coach Rich Rodriguez, who now finds himself without a quarterback to run his spread offense next season.

"I shouldn't even feel bad right now but I feel bad because I said no to Michigan," Pryor said. "I had so much of a bond with Coach Rodriguez. They had their hopes on me and I let them down."

In recent weeks, at least two more schools entered the picture and began pitching their services on the hardwood. Both USC and Memphis attempted to recruit Pryor as a small forward with the likely chance of playing football.

But he remained resolute in his desire to be a quarterback and develop into an NFL-caliber talent.

"It's my ticket," he said of football.

In addition to Tressel, Pryor cited his relationships with a handful of the team's recruiting class as being instrumental to bringing him to Columbus. On signing day, offensive linemen Michael Brewster and J.B. Shugarts both spoke about how they wanted Pryor to close out the class of 2008 for them.

Now they have gotten their wish.

"It had a part to play in it," Pryor said. "They just made me feel at home because I know the kids a little bit. It's all part of recruiting and I understand that. They could not talk to me ever again as soon as I get there. In the end it was what I wanted."

BSB staff writer Jeff Svoboda contributed to this report

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