It was the team's media day near the start of fall camp, and the quarterback had been asked if he felt he could develop into a full-fledged passing quarterback. His response to the group of reporters stacked three- or four-deep around him in a semicircle was that he was still a running quarterback who could throw. Pryor said he hoped he could become a passing quarterback who can run, but he was worried that he would never be able to take that next step.
Now five games into his sophomore season as the starter for the Buckeyes, Pryor tempered those thoughts a little bit.
"I feel I can hold my own at the quarterback position," he told reporters Wednesday evening at the team's Woody Hayes Athletic Center. "I'm not saying I'm the greatest or I'm that, but I feel I can hold my own. I feel I can get the receivers involved and I feel I can take the team down the field. I feel confident in doing that."
To this point in the season, Pryor ranks seventh in the Big Ten in rushing per game at 59.6 yards per contest and 10th in passing offense at 170.8 yards per game. As for total offense, he sits fourth with an average of 230.4 yards.
Although his numbers have not always shown it, Pryor said he now enjoys a sense of confidence he did not possess one season ago.
"I didn't feel that last year because I was a freshman coming in," he said. "I was kind of thrown in and grew from there. I didn't really learn a lot except what I learned from Todd and the coaches. There's a lot of learning. I feel like I've learned a lot more."
There are certainly signs that Pryor is starting to get a better grasp of what he can do under center for the Buckeyes. In the team's 38-0 victory against Toledo in week three, Pryor accumulated 372 yards of total offense – fifth-best all-time in OSU history. In the process, he threw for a career-high 262 rushing yards and accounted for the second 100-yard rushing game of his career. At times, he has shown an ability to fit the ball in tight windows and come up with great plays through the air.
However, his passing efficiency rating is down from last year, when he led the conference at 146.50 in an offense primarily centered around tailback Chris "Beanie" Wells. This year that mark sits at 135.2, good for sixth in the Big Ten. That is in part due to the fact that he has already tossed five interceptions, one more than he did all last season.
On Tuesday, OSU head coach Jim Tressel said that efficiency rating is the top statistic the coaches look at to evaluate how a quarterback is performing aside from wins and losses.
"Whenever you're called on to throw the ball and you do throw it, then that's the best indicator there is," Tressel said. "It is the best indicator because it includes your turnovers, it includes your touchdowns, it includes in a big way your yards per attempt."
Pryor said there is no magic ratio of runs to passes that would make him more comfortable in the pocket. In addition, he said he is still working on hanging in the pocket when things break down rather than simply tucking the ball down and running.
"I feel I'm a pretty decent quarterback," he said. "I can make some throws and get the ball moving down the field. I know I can run the ball and get eight, 10 yards a play. I feel confident in what I'm doing and what the coaches are calling."
Quarterbacks coach Nick Siciliano said he has seen Pryor's greatest growth during the past year come from a maturity standpoint.
"The maturation process has been exceptional," said the coach, seated to Pryor's right. "It's been incredible from just a growing up standpoint. That happens for a lot of kids because when they get here to Ohio State, their eyes are wide open and it's a bunch of new experiences. He's done a tremendous job from a learning curve and a maturity standpoint. It's been unbelievable."
The Buckeyes have gone to more of a shotgun-centered offense in the past few games. Pryor said he feels equally confident throwing out of the shotgun as he does starting under center.
However, Pryor was quick to point out that he knows he has plenty of room for growth. First up was his desire to improve his footwork – a common refrain during his time in Columbus.
"Right now my feet, sometimes my feet get a little too wide and I get elongated," he said. "When I step into my throws I throw a much better ball. It's a proven fact. Every time the coach will stop and rewind and show me. There are tricks to that. It's just staying focused every single play, keeping my legs as tight as I can and driving through. I think I'm getting pretty good at it but it's a long process."
In addition, Pryor said he is also learning from plays where the final outcome is a positive one. In Saturday's game against Indiana, he rolled to his right and connected with fullback Zach Boren on an 8-yard touchdown pass that set the halftime score at 24-7.
Looking back, Pryor said he showcased poor fundamentals in making that throw.
"I get in trouble for throwing behind my body," Pryor said with a laugh. "You can't really see from the back. I should've throw it farther out in my vision. He made a great catch. He was open from what I saw."
Add it to the list of learning experiences Pryor has said he continues to go through in his second go-round as a starter – although this one had a happy ending.
"Coach works me hard on the footwork," he said. "We've still got a lot of work to do. I'm just happy to be getting better and better every day and every game and making better decision with the ball.
"Victories are the most important thing."