All In The Family

Ohio State quarterbacks coach Joe Daniels will tell you that trying to impress the right people around any particular recruit can be a challenging task. In the case of Terrelle Pryor that proved to be especially true. Find out the role his family played in his recruitment and how much attention the OSU coaching staff paid them.

JEANNETTE, Pa. – At the time, it looked as if Ohio State had made a grave miscalculation in its efforts to land Terrelle Pryor.

On National Signing Day, the nation's top football prospect opted to delay his college decision thanks in large part to a difference of opinion with his father, Craig. Pryor was set to choose the Buckeyes, while his father was insisting that he at least take an official visit to Penn State before deciding.

That desire came from a sit-down dinner between Pryor's family and coaching staff and the PSU coaching staff a few days prior to signing day. At his press conference, Pryor mentioned that the Nittany Lions staff had been spending the most time recruiting his family and specifically his father.

For the day, Joe Paterno and staff appeared to have grabbed an upper hand in the situation or at least stayed OSU's hand.

Fast-forward slightly more than six weeks later and Pryor's father inadvertently gave the first indication that his son would be a Buckeye. By undoing the zipper on his jacket just a bit too much as he sat on the stage of the Jeannette auditorium immediately to his son's left, he revealed enough of a white t-shirt that the words "Ohio State" could clearly be seen peeking out.

After the press conference, Craig Pryor said he fully supported his son's decision – despite the fact that his desired official visit to Happy Valley never materialized.

"He didn't take an official visit to Penn State, but he did what he wanted to," his father said. "Whatever was comfortable for him, I was comfortable with that. I just had to back him wherever he decided."

The younger Pryor said he needed the support of his family as he attempted to make a decision. Once they saw where he wanted to go, they were fully supportive of his decision.

"I wouldn't prefer for him to go anywhere," Craig Pryor said. "He had to just take his time and wherever he felt that God wanted him to go, that was the place for him."

The fact that that final decision reportedly did not come until the morning of his announcement had little bearing on the final verdict. Between signing day and his decision date, Pryor moved in with his mother, Thomasina, who moved back to Jeannette.

That experience helped ease the pressure in the final weeks leading up to his decision.

"I've always been able to call and talk to Terrelle but it was nice especially through this recruiting season because he could go back in his room and lay down and relax and if I wanted to go back there and bother him or if he wanted to talk I was there," his mother said. "Me being there around him has definitely helped and made him more relaxed."

Both parents donned OSU gear for his latest press conference, but a decidedly different picture had been painted on signing day. With his father absent from the press conference and his mother fiercely defensive about her son's decision, it was easy to view the Nittany Lions as a legitimate player for his services.

At the time, it appeared they had put the most time and effort into recruiting Pryor's family and it looked as if OSU's efforts had been wrongly focused elsewhere – a situation that occurs from time to time, according to OSU quarterbacks coach Joe Daniels.

A 38-year member of the coaching profession, Daniels said identifying which people surround a recruit can be one of the most challenging aspects of the recruiting process. In the case of Pryor, who had been residing with his godfather with his mother living out of town and his father confined to a wheelchair and unable to care for him, this seemed to be the case.

"In any recruiting, you've got to find out who has an influence on him, who he counts on," Daniels said on signing day. "If you could ever find out the one person that is going to be as involved as anybody in the decision-making process, then of course you would zero on him. But there's a lot of cases where it's several people. You just try to figure that out and piece it together."

If indeed the OSU coaches had been targeting the wrong people surrounding Pryor, that fact was quickly remedied.

"We spoke a lot to Coach Tressel," Craig Pryor said. "They were no different than the others."

Rumored to be a lifelong PSU fan, Pryor's father told reporters he is actually a fan of Pitt, the school Pryor initially committed to as a basketball prospect in January of 2006.

When it came time for the nation's top prospect to sign on the dotted line, both parents spoke of how pleased they were of their son's decision. The Buckeyes had gotten their man, and they had won his parents over in the process.

Perhaps that should not have been much of a surprise considering what the younger Pryor had to say about OSU head coach Jim Tressel.

"Coach Tress, you've got to love him," he said. "He's just a classy guy. I talk to him about every day. He's probably the main focus of me committing there, along with the other coaches."

With the final piece of a recruiting class that now ranks among the very elite of the country, it appears Tressel and Co. are on a roll – regardless of whom they target in their recruiting efforts.

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