The recruiting saga of Jeanette [Pa.] superstar Terrelle Pryor was easily the most interesting story of the 2008 recruiting period. Pryor, who signed with Ohio State on March 19th, was not only the top rated recruit in the country, but clearly the most visible player.
The reporting of Terrelle Pryor's every move became nearly as scrutinized as his play on the football field or basketball court. The news media covered the story in a way that would make tabloid journalism proud. The truth was often hard to find amongst the rumors and innuendo. Not surprisingly, Terrelle Pryor initially refused my request for an interview.
"No man, I don't do those anymore," Pryor replied to my request for an interview. "Those haven't worked out so well. Thanks anyway."
Somehow I was able to gain the trust of Terrelle Pryor and he did grant my request. We sat down and had a conversation about his recruitment, his relationships, and his thoughts on his future at Ohio State, among other subjects.
If you are hoping to read another hatchet job on Terrelle Pryor, you needn't read any further, because you will be tremendously disappointed. I had been told that Terrelle Pryor was selfish, surly and sarcastic. Nothing could be further from the truth. I found the young man to be charming, sincere and a genuine joy to be around.
This is another installment of the Making of the Brew Crew, featuring Terrelle Pryor.
Terrelle Pryor just might be the greatest all-around athlete to enroll at Ohio State in many years. He is certainly the highest rated quarterback to sign with the Buckeyes since Art Schlichter, who played at Ohio State nearly 30 years ago. Pryor was not only the top rated football player in the country by Scout.com, he was also one of the top basketball players in the land as well.
For those of you who like numbers, try these on for size. Pryor, who led his Jeanette football team to the state championship in 2007, threw for 4,340 yards in his career. He also used his 6-foot-6 and 225-pound frame to rush for 4,238 yards. He accounted for 60 touchdowns in his senior season alone. He scored a touchdown nearly once in every four times he touched the football. When that great size is combined with legitimate 4.4 speed, you have the makings of a superstar.
Pryor also led Jeanette to the 2008 high school basketball state championship. He was a potential triple-double every night he took the floor. He used his great reach and superb quickness to become an unbelievably great defensive player as well. There is no doubt he could be a star in college basketball should he choose to do so. Yet with all his talent, Terrelle Pryor still thinks he could be very good in another sport if he decided to put his mind to it.
"I think I could be good at baseball," Pryor said with a smile. "I played a lot of baseball growing up and I think I could do it, but football takes up so much time and requires so much training that baseball just got phased out. I still like the game a lot. It was hard enough trying to play two sports well without adding a third, although I might run some track this spring, but I'm not sure about that right now."
As one of the top basketball players in the country, it would seem to be a disappointment for him to have to give up the sport once he gets to Ohio State. It has been widely thought that Pryor wouldn't be able to play both sports at such a high profile school. That might not be the case and Pryor has left the door open to possibly continuing to play basketball at Ohio State.
"Right now I'm not thinking about basketball at all," Pryor stated. "I'm just going to concentrate on football right now, but down the road you never know what could go on. I just have to wait and see how things go when I get to Ohio State and then we'll see what happens. I have a lot to do to get ready for the football season at Ohio State. It's not that far away and I plan on being ready to contribute."
While Terrelle Pryor might plan on "being ready" to start his football career at Ohio State, it's highly doubtful that he was ready for what he faced in the recruiting world. He has been bombarded with accusations of impropriety, faced taunts from fans and opponents, and witnessed outright lies being written about himself and his family. The life of a superstar athlete isn't always filled with praise and glory.
Kathy Brewster is the mother of Ohio State freshman center Michael Brewster. She witnessed first-hand exactly how the recruiting process can take a toll on a family. Her son is well known in recruiting circles for not only his fantastic talent, but by being the one player responsible for helping put the great 2008 Ohio State recruiting class together. Kathy Brewster grew to know Terrelle Pryor very well through his friendship with her son.
"As a parent, you know there is going to be criticism of your kid if he plays sports," she said. "What bothered me was the people criticizing and talking bad about Terrelle were people who didn't even know him. If you want to speak poorly about a person, you should at least talk to that person or to someone who knows them. Through his friendship with Mike, I've gotten to know Terrelle really well."
Kathy Brewster is a quiet and reserved lady. It is not her nature to do interviews, but she wanted to speak about her feelings toward Terrelle Pryor, to set the record straight.
"We met Terrele last summer when he came to Florida to play in a basketball tournament," Kathy Brewster began. "Our entire family went to watch him play and after the game we took him out to dinner. This was the first time Michael was with Terrelle face to face, and Terrelle was a little shy. We all went back to our house where the two of them just hung around and got to know each other. We all laughed because his phone kept getting text messages and he seemed to get as many, if not more, than Michael got. At this point his recruiting was just starting to take off, but Terrelle was just a normal kid and we loved being around him. He was very polite and so appreciative of us coming to get him and spending time with him. After Terrelle left, Michael told me how he knew that no matter where Terrelle ended up going to college, that they would always be friends. That really showed me how close they were becoming as friends because I knew how badly Michael wanted Terrelle to go to school with him. The one thing Michael liked was that Terrelle was such a loyal person, and if he was your friend, then he was your friend for life."
As the friendship continued to grow between the two star players, it became apparent that the recruiting of Terrelle Pryor was taking on a life of its own. Kathy Brewster, along with her husband Bill, even went to Jeanette last fall to see Pryor play a football game. The interesting part of this trip is that Michael wasn't with them, but they still wanted to go see Terrelle.
"When we took our older son, Billy, to Ohio State last fall, we also went to Jeanette to watch Terrelle play," she continued. "Michael stayed in Florida and we went to Terrelle's game and saw all the hype in the town surrounding their team. The thing that impressed my husband and I was after the game Terrelle came down to the restaurant where we were eating and he spent time with us. He could have been out with his friends, but he really wanted to see us and show us how much he appreciated us coming to his game. We thought that showed a lot about his character and how good of a person he really is."
The next time the Brewster's saw Pryor was last January at the U.S. Army All-American game in San Antonio. By now, Pryor had taken on rock star status and the media attention was suffocating him.
"By this time things were exploding for Terrelle," she said. "When we got to the hotel Terrelle came walking through the lobby and there were a lot of people trying to get near him. I could see things were changing for him, but Terrelle was just Terrele. He was hanging out with the guys and having fun. He was still the same down-to-earth kid from Jeanette. My husband and I were amazed that he could handle all this attention so well. Every time we see Terrelle he comes over to us and hugs us and asks how we are doing. No matter how many people are around him he always seeks us out to see how things are going. That says a lot about him. I cannot say enough good things about him. I look at Terrelle from a mom's point of view and I can't help but admire him."
Kathy Brewster has also started to become friends with Pryor's mother, Toni. The two of them have spoken by phone and they are looking forward to getting together this fall at Ohio State football games.
"This past weekend I saw Terrelle at the spring game," she admitted. "The first he did was tell me how sorry his mom was that she couldn't make it. He is always concerned about other people, not just himself. I never look at Terrelle as this superstar quarterback. To me, he's just Terrelle. I've talked with his mom, Toni, a few times and she's a wonderful lady. We're just starting to get to know each other and I know how excited she is to have Terrelle at Ohio State. She's glad to see her family get back to normal now that the recruiting is finally over. She just wants to get over here and watch the Buckeyes with the rest of the parents. I told her I felt bad about all the stuff that was written about Terrelle and she said she's just looking forward to seeing him get his career started and him just being another football player. Every time we talk, we mostly speak about our kids and how much fun we are all going to have the next four years."
Finally, Kathy Brewster spoke about how she feels Pryor has handled all of the hype and attention that's come his way. It's evident that she thinks a lot of Terrelle Pryor.
"I've been really impressed with how he's handled everything as an 18-year old kid," she stated. "I think it's really hard seeing adults speak poorly about a teenager, but he's handled everything with such class. The attention is something you can't ever prepare for, but Terrelle just goes with the flow. It's probably harder on us parents than it is on the kids themselves. Everyone that meets him, and spends time with him, just raves about how sweet of a kid he is. He signs autographs, poses for pictures and shakes hands with everyone. I love all these kids in the recruiting class and they're all so much alike. I'm so glad that Michael is good friends with Terrelle. Their friendship means so much to Michael, and my husband and I just love Terrelle. I can't say enough good things about Terrelle. This whole class is so special. The friendships they've made will last a lifetime. Regardless of what they do on the field, and I expect big things, these kids have learned so much about friendship. It's almost like they are all brothers. I can get emotional just talking about any of them."
Coming next, Terrelle Pryor speaks about his friendship with Mike Brewster, what he feels his role will be at Ohio State, and why he selected the Buckeyes over a host of great college programs. Join us for Part-2 of the Making of the Brew Crew, featuring Terrelle Pryor.