Time To Grow For Pryor

It is no secret that Terrelle Pryor was not tasked with throwing the ball very much as he assumed the starting reins as a true freshman for Ohio State. With the season in the rear-view mirror, the team's starter for the future enters a key period of development in his growth as a quarterback.

Ohio State's loss to Texas in the Fiesta Bowl marked the conclusion of one era and the dawning of another.

Gone is former all-Big Ten quarterback Todd Boeckman and any semblance of quarterback controversy for the Buckeyes.

This is now Terrelle Pryor's team, and the coming year's worth of development is crucial if he is to become the type of player who can live up to the hype bestowed upon him as the nation's No. 1 prospect out of high school.

"I think it's really key," OSU quarterbacks coach Joe Daniels said. "I think he needs to work hard and he is. He needs to work hard in the weight room and he is. He needs to work hard throwing the ball and he's doing that now."

Until spring practice begins, the coaching staff is not allowed to monitor workouts or schedule practices for the team. Instead, all they have to go off of is gossip or first-hand accounts given by the players themselves.

"He keeps telling me that he's throwing the ball better, he feels better throwing it and he's a lot more consistent," Daniels said. "I'd love to be out there. The nice thing I'm hearing is that he is working hard. Other guys are telling me that, and I'm glad to hear that."

That hard work will go a long way toward determining how successful Pryor can become as a starter as he embarks on what Daniels described as a critical period of development. As a true freshman, Pryor was thrust into the starting lineup just four weeks into the year and compiled an 8-2 record the rest of the way – although he technically started the Fiesta Bowl at wide receiver as senior Todd Boeckman took the first snap under center.

Although Pryor established himself as an elite threat to take off with the ball and pick up big yardage on the ground, his ability to throw the ball was scrutinized throughout the year. Asked why OSU did not move the ball much through the air with Pryor under center, head coach Jim Tressel said he preferred to use tailback Chris "Beanie" Wells as the focal point of the offense.

However, Tressel insisted all season that he was confident in Pryor's ability to win games through the air if called upon. OSU football operations assistant Nick Siciliano, who has been assisting Daniels at the quarterback position, said that line of thought has not changed.

Asked if he would be confident in Pryor's abilities should he be tasked with throwing the ball 20 or 30 times a game, Siciliano said, "It wouldn't bother us one bit."

In the final 10 games of the season, Pryor completed 89 of 148 passes (60.1 percent), an average of less than 15 attempts per start. He led the Big Ten in passing efficiency with a 146.5 rating but had the fewest total attempts among the top five by 89 passes.

With Wells on his way to the NFL, it would appear that Pryor will be asked to throw the ball with more frequency than he was as a freshman. That is not necessarily true, according to Siciliano.

"I don't know if that's fair (to say)," he said. "We've got Danny Herron back there, who's a little bit different back than Beanie Wells but he's a good back. Brandon Saine's a good back. We've got three other guys coming in who are good backs."

The months ahead will give Pryor an opportunity to grow that he did not have during the season when he was consistently preparing for a new opponent each week. Now the focus can be on becoming a better quarterback rather than beating, say, Wisconsin.

Siciliano agreed that this will be an important winter, spring and summer for Pryor, but added that the situation is the same for his classmates.

"I think it's important to him and his growth and his maturity just like it is for Lamaar Thomas and DeVier Posey," he said. "It's no different for him than it is any other guys. He's got to have a good off-season and spring ball."

However, things are a little different for Pryor as opposed to his other teammates. The native of western Pennsylvania is now the face of an offense that loses its top running back and top two wide receivers from a year ago.

Joe Bauserman is Pryor's backup, and he said he has no bones about where the team is headed or who is leading the charge.

"This is Terrelle's team," Bauserman said. "He took over last year and did good things. I can't imagine it being an open competition, but I am going to work as hard as if it was."

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