The Time Is Now For Pryor

As a freshman, Terrelle Pryor's development was limited by the necessity of preparing him for a new opponent on a weekly basis. Now as spring practice dawns, the Ohio State quarterback can start growing into the team's leader and offensive focal point. Two familiar faces from his past offer their insight on Pryor's development and future here on

Now begins a crucial time period for Terrelle Pryor.

When Ohio State begins spring practice April 2, it will mark a 23-day period culminating with the annual spring game wherein the quarterback will formally begin the process of becoming the face of the OSU offense. As a freshman, Pryor worked his way up the depth chart and eventually took over for incumbent starter Todd Boeckman by the fourth game of the regular season, compiling an 8-2 record along the way.

Quickly thrust into the starting lineup, time for development was put to the side as instead Pryor had to focus on the team's next opponent.

With the dawning of spring football, Pryor can continue to grow with each practice repetition he takes under the direction of head coach Jim Tressel.

"Coach Tressel went slow with him because he wanted to bring him along slow and didn't want him to make a big mistake," said Ray Reitz, Pryor's high school coach at Jeannette, Pa. "I thought he was handled very well and I thought he did a nice job. I think this year, it'll be his team. The kid's a tremendous leader. That's what I think you'll see.

"People are going to see the real Terrelle now."

The first step toward becoming that player Reitz mentioned? Improving his passing game, an area where he struggled from a fundamental standpoint last season despite leading the Big Ten in passing efficiency.

"Sometimes he was throwing off his back foot," Roy Hall, Reitz's replacement and the quarterbacks coach when Pryor prepped there, said. "That's when his passes come up short."

Pryor finished his freshman season having completed 100 of 165 passes for 1,311 yards and 12 touchdowns against four interceptions. On the ground, he carried the ball 139 times for 631 yards and eight scores.

But as he settled into the role as starter, Pryor did so on a somewhat divided team. The offensive priority was primarily on giving tailback Chris "Beanie" Wells the football and did not often call on Pryor to move the ball through the air. It added up to an offense with an identity crisis.

This year, Pryor will be the offensive focal point for the Buckeyes. He has gone through early-morning conditioning and unsupervised workouts with the team and has spent his free time working out on his own, but this will be the first test run of a completely Pryor-led offense.

As the sophomore-to-be grows more comfortable, Reitz said he feels his former pupil will change the definition of a quarterback at Ohio State.

"Terrelle is revolutionizing the quarterback position," he said. "What happens is he puts pressure on defenses because they can't bring guys off the edge because if he gets outside that edge blitzer then it's goodnight. You've almost got to play a base defense against them. That enhances your whole offense."

On National Signing Day, OSU quarterbacks coach Joe Daniels said he felt Pryor was progressing in the right direction toward becoming an elite quarterback. Assistant quarterbacks coach Nick Siciliano agreed, but also pointed out that it is an important spring for a number of new faces that will be thrust into bigger roles this season for the Buckeyes.

"We've got a bunch of young guys who can make plays," Siciliano said. "It was like that after ‘06 – ‘What's going to happen?' Well, we've got a bunch of young guys who can make plays and they will make the plays. We've just got to put them in the right spots to do so."

Chief on that list is Pryor, who will be directing the offense. Hall said Pryor is not a player who is adverse to a little hard work. During OSU's spring break, Pryor was back home in Jeannette pumping iron in Hall's garage.

"I think he's improved tremendously," he said, looking back at Pryor's freshman season. "The thing is, there's still so much more room to improve and he has the drive to do it. I think everybody on that team, including the coaches, see the drive he has to get better."

That drive, coupled with almost a full season's worth of experiences to draw from, figures to have Pryor pointed toward a big year. In addition, the OSU offense can go into every snap this season knowing that its identity rests in the form of its quarterback.

Reitz pointed out that he had never faced cover-2 and cover-3 defenses as a high school athlete and likened Pryor's overall abilities to the tip of an iceberg.

His message? We ain't seen nothin' yet.

"I'd like to see them enhance his running abilities, put in some zone read out of the shotgun and stuff like that," Reitz said. "I say by the middle of this year he's going to be unbelievable."

If so, the steps that lead there need to be taken this spring.

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