Siciliano Ready For 2009 Challenge

An offseason staff change has Nick Siciliano square in the public spotlight that always shines on the Ohio State football team. Now the full-time quarterbacks coach, Siciliano will in charge of the most important position on the field -- and the development of Terrelle Pryor. As camp nears, Siciliano discusses his promotion with BuckeyeSports.com.

In practice, things won't be much different for Nick Siciliano in 2009.

A season ago, Siciliano was Ohio State's quarterbacks coach on the field and in meetings, taking over after the football program filed a waiver with the NCAA to allow Siciliano to sub for Joe Daniels, who continued to battle health problems.

Daniels was around to help when necessary, though Siciliano was essentially the quarterbacks coach despite an official title of offensive quality control coach. Now, as the Buckeyes prepare to open 2009's fall camp, Siciliano has officially earned his promotion, having taken over for Daniels after his move to a behind-the-scenes role in the program.

Siciliano's duties will be largely the same, and he's getting ready for camp with a similar approach. In fact, this one might be easier now that he's had some time to get used to the job that is now his full-time.

"I really had to hone in my learning, all the things I needed to know early last summer, make sure that I was prepared just in case we had to go ahead with what we needed to do last year," Siciliano told BuckeyeSports.com. "This year it's not any different. I'm not going to do anything any differently. I've been through this before."

But things will be a little different, at least in the eyes of the fans. Now, Siciliano is in charge of the development of Terrelle Pryor, the preseason Big Ten offensive player of the year and the nation's No. 1 prospect in the class of 2008, and that puts him square in the eyes of the Buckeye faithful.

Some already have questioned his appointment to his first-ever full-time Division I assistant job, pointing to the lack of experience in major college football for the 34-year-old father of quadruplets.

"There's some pressure to it. I'd be lying to you if I said there wasn't," Siciliano said. "It's welcome pressure. It's what I've been preparing for. It's very welcomed and it will be very challenging and be very exciting to go at it head on and go ahead and attack Navy in the first game and see how things unfold from there."

Siciliano first arrived at Ohio State before the 2005 season when he was named the offensive quality control coach. Before that, the Youngstown State graduate was a quarterbacks coach only in 2004 at North Carolina A&T with previous stops in other capacities at YSU, Urbana and Oklahoma.

"I feel very fortunate because they could have gone out and hired 200 people for this job," Siciliano said. "There are a number of guys that are very qualified for this spot. I feel fortunate enough that they noticed the hard work and the dedication and the perseverance that I've put in. I can't thank those guys enough that sit around that table that they've got enough confidence in me to go ahead and give me a chance at this."

Not that Siciliano doesn't believe he's qualified for the high-profile role. In addition to working under Daniels and Jim Tressel at Ohio State, a pair Siciliano has credited with teaching him how to coach with patience, he was at Oklahoma when Chuck Long was the quarterbacks coach.

"You always make sure you study other people and you go to different professional organizations and study and try to learn from the coaches up there and spend time with some of your colleagues in the coaching profession," he said. "You really have to learn on your own a bit, too, by watching some tape. You really have to hone your skills and spend the time studying, just like you would for any other job.

"You have to put forth the effort to do all the work. I'm fortunate here that I have two other quarterbacks coaches here that if I need help with something and I'm not understanding something correctly, I've got two guys that I can bounce it off of and see how it sticks."

Siciliano said he expects – and welcomes – Daniels continuing to inject his opinion into matters of quarterbacking whenever he so desires even though he's not allowed to be a coach on the field or in the meeting room. Daniels, now the program's associate director of player development, has more than 40 years of coaching experience under his belt.

In addition, Siciliano credited Daniels for helping make the transition at the position move smoothly.

"If Joe Daniels isn't the person that he is, none of this would have happened," Siciliano said. "Joe has been enormously important to me, not only in my coaching career but in my life. He's been a great mentor and I can't thank him enough for everything he's done for me. He'll still be a sounding board, still have a chance to offer his advice and he's done so and done it the right away and is still teaching."

Now, the futures of players like Pryor, Joe Bauserman and Kenny Guiton are in Siciliano's hands. After a year of working with the first two, he should have a comfort factor with each, and Siciliano has been a major part of the team trying to mold Pryor into a more consistent thrower and player.

"I've got a great relationship with Pryor," Siciliano said. "We get along great. He enjoys being around this office, he enjoys football, and I enjoy him being here. It's going to be a learning curve for him, and I'm just going to try to be there to help him make that curve a little bit easier and get him to the right page each week and each day and every practice.

"He's going to do as well as he can because he wants to do that well. It's not just going to be because of ability. It's going to be because Terrelle wants to be great."

Pryor appeared to make major strides during the spring while working with Siciliano, a performance that ended with a standout effort and two touchdowns throwing the football during the annual spring game. Throughout camp, he appeared to be on the way to becoming more comfortable both with his throwing motion and his decision-making.

That has led to high hopes from the Buckeye faithful, and the league media appears to have taken notice as well with their tabbing of the sophomore as the league's preseason offensive player of the year.

Still, Siciliano was coy when it came to discussing where he thinks Pryor will improve this season after leading the league in passing efficiency last season.

"That's yet to be seen," he said. "The sky is the limit with Terrelle. He's one of those guys that is definitely a game changer. I wouldn't want to handcuff him or handicap him with anything I would say or jinx him. The sky is the limit with him. There's not anything he can't do."

Getting to tutor one of the top players in the country is a nice boon for a first full-time Division I job, and Siciliano said he's happy to be in the situation in which he finds himself – for a variety of reasons.

"I feel very, very lucky and fortunate to be here at Ohio State," Siciliano said. "This is the greatest place ever. I just happened to be in the right place at the right time."


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