Pryor Is A Passer

The comparison since Terrelle Pryor arrived on campus at Ohio State was to Florida quarterback Tim Tebow during the 2006 season -- a change-of-pace quarterback who primarily makes plays with his feet. While that might still be his role this season, Saturday's jersey scrimmage was another showcase for a signal-caller who is proving that he is very much capable of throwing the football.

Terrelle Pryor is already disproving a few things people have assumed about his ability to help Ohio State as a true freshman.

Although he actually rushed for fewer yards (4,238) than he threw for (4,340) during his prep career, Pryor has been viewed as a player whose primary role in the OSU offense this year would be as a rusher. Head coach Jim Tressel has said they will not ask him to do things that senior starter Todd Boeckman can already do, instead bringing him into the game to bring an added element neither Boeckman nor backup Joe Bauserman can provide.

That has indicated that Pryor would be more of a running quarterback, a guy whose speed and natural abilities could add a new wrinkle to the Buckeye offense. While that might still be the case, the freshman from Jeannette, Pa., is apparently making large gains in the passing game.

Drawing on the Biblical story of Moses parting the Red Sea, Tressel described him as being the opposite of the historical figure.

"There's some quarterbacks that even if the Red Sea is out there they wouldn't run, and there are others who take off too soon," Tressel said. "I would say that Terrelle falls more toward the red sea group. He's going to find someone to throw to. He's a thrower."

During the team's jersey scrimmage – which was closed to media – Pryor only had one called run while he was in the game and he converted for a touchdown on a quarterback draw.

But although many players were raving about Pryor's ability to make game-changing plays with his feet, even senior linebacker James Laurinaitis praised his ability to make things happen through the air.

"He's done a tremendously better job of passing the ball," he said. "He's got all the tools to be a tremendous player here when his time comes."

Pryor's growth has come in big spurts because he was still raw when he arrived in camp, according to Tressel. He has had more ground to make up on an established quarterback like Boeckman because he has more to learn, Tressel said.

He has apparently made enough gains that the head coach said he can start factoring the freshman into the team's plans for the season.

"He doesn't look like a freshman from a standpoint of wondering what's going on out there," Tressel said. "He's very calm, he's very tough on himself. Terrelle's got a good presence about him for a young guy. He looks to me like he's going to be very, very good."

Boeckman echoed Tressel's comments about Pryor's growth through the passing game, adding that he has helped him with a few things along the way.

"I thought at first when he was coming here that he was going to be one of those guys who takes off and runs, but he's getting better each and every day at throwing the football," Boeckman said. "I'm really excited where he's at right now."

That does not mean that Pryor is unable to make plays with his feet, however. The freshman reportedly had several impressive runs during the scrimmage although one of them ended with him fumbling the football away. He also had one pass that was tipped at the line of scrimmage and then intercepted.

Those plays aside, Tressel said he is already ahead of where former Heisman Trophy winner Troy Smith was early in his OSU career.

"He can keep a play alive, as you can imagine and he can do some things with his feet," Tressel said. "If the team needs him to take off and go and that seems to be the best thing, he's going to do that and do it well.

"Troy when he was young he wanted to run. He could solve all his problems with his feet. Terrelle's not that way at all. Terrelle wants to solve all the problems with his eyes. That's different."

Different enough, it seems, to make a major impact this season – and maybe not in the way most had expected him to.


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