The Path From Freshman To Starter

Before stepping foot on campus, Terrelle Pryor has been anointed as the next great Ohio State quarterback after a hugely successful prep career. But senior quarterback Todd Boeckman offered some insight into just how difficult it is for a freshman to start at such a demanding position at a place like Ohio State.

The saying that good things come to those who wait is a pretty good description of Todd Boeckman. The St. Henry, Ohio, native's path to the starting quarterback position at Ohio State has been arduous and well-documented.

After graduating from St. Henry, Boeckman underwent a grayshirt season to put an extra year of eligibility between himself and the team's two other new quarterbacks, Troy Smith and Justin Zwick. He redshirted in 2004, then spent the next two seasons backing up both Smith and Zwick before assuming the role as starter in 2007.

As such, he knows what it is like to get to a school like OSU and try to fight for early playing time at a position as demanding as quarterback.

"As a freshman, you feel almost out of place," he said. "You don't know what's going on and things are moving so fast, but once you are here for so long and you see how guys who have been here have handled themselves and everything slows down – not just with football, but with classes and stuff too – you're more mature and experienced and that goes a long way."

The context of the question posed to Boeckman was Terrelle Pryor, the nation's top high school prospect in the 2008 recruiting class. After becoming the first player in state history to both rush for and throw for more than 4,000 yards during his prep career, Pryor ended a lengthy recruiting process by committing to OSU in mid-March.

After displaying more than enough athleticism to lead both his high school football and basketball teams to state championships as a senior, Pryor has cemented his status as a prep legend with all kinds of potential at the next level.

But as Boeckman knows, trying to take over the starting reins as a freshman at a school such as OSU is not an easy task.

"It would be very tough, I'd say," he said. "I don't think it happens too much throughout the country just because of the speed of the game and everything you have to worry about there."

However, with his obvious talents – and the likelihood that Pryor will head to the NFL after three years regardless of whether or not he redshirts for his freshman season – there is no reason to expect that Pryor will not see playing time for the Buckeyes this fall. The Pennsylvania native reportedly already has a playbook and film showing him the ins and outs of what opposing defenses will be doing to try and stop him.

But reading a playbook is one thing. Doing it on the field is something else entirely, and Boeckman said he is prepared to help Pryor adjust to the collegiate game as quickly as possible.

"He's a great athlete and if he can do some things to help us out I'd be more than happy to have him with us," he said. "If he can help us win games, I'll gladly help him do whatever I can."

Should he see the field this season, Pryor figures to play as a change-of-pace quarterback in a dual-quarterback system. While Boeckman does not consider himself a mobile quarterback, he gained 218 rushing yards last season before losing 155 of those to sacks.

Pryor, on the other hand, has speed to burn.

"He explained that when Todd Boeckman's in there I'm going to work in just like how (Florida quarterback Tim) Tebow did," Pryor said. "He'll use me on runs, and that sounded good to me."

To get to that point, though, Boeckman is one player who has firsthand knowledge of what kind of learning curve Pryor faces. Although the senior said he did not play close attention to Pryor's prep career – the two have met just once in person, when Pryor took his official visit to OSU in November – he is aware of what kind of pressure comes with being the nation's top prospect.

"With all that hype, it's going to be tough to back that up," Boeckman said. "I'm sure he's a great athlete. I haven't really seen that much of him. That's going to be tough for him to put on his shoulders. He's going to want to come in and do some great things here and I'm sure he will."

All Pryor is looking for, however is a chance. He knows what is expected of him and welcomes the challenge.

"I know what's going to be going on," he said. "I know that wherever I would've gone people are going to get on me because of being the No. 1 guy. You've just go to prove yourself. You have to step up and prove yourself and be a man, and that's what I'm going to do."

Odds are, he won't have to wait as long as Boeckman did for his shot.

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