Jard Work: Pryor And The Week That Was

There has been no shortage of news relating to Ohio State quarterback Terrelle Pryor this week, and so we humbly add one more piece to the puzzle. This week's edition of Jard Work focuses solely on the week that was surrounding the sophomore from Jeannette, Pa.

The talk of the town this past week has been quarterback Terrelle Pryor, although probably not for the reasons the sophomore was hoping for.

Our message boards on BuckeyeSports.com have been inundated with threads on what is wrong with Pryor, why the coaches are not using him correctly, why he is not living up to his potential and so on. Frankly, it's been an exhausting week covering Pryor – not to mention the other 84 other scholarship players on the Ohio State roster.

As a result, this week's edition of Jard Work will solely focus on the week that has transpired for Pryor. He's been written about here and here, respectively, but here are the other quotes, notes and anecdotes that did not make it into those two stories.

The Superstar Effect: Making his third mid-week appearance in a row, Pryor casually let it slip that he looks to Cleveland Cavaliers superstar LeBron James as a mentor. The two trade text messages, and the relationship apparently began last year when the Cavs played an exhibition game in Columbus on campus at Value City Arena.

"He's like a big brother," Pryor said. "He keeps me cool and keeps me calm a little bit."

That same night, the Cavs took on the Boston Celtics at VCA and James was asked about his relationship with Pryor.

"It's a personal relationship. I've been trying to mentor him and trying to get him through life in the spotlight, which I've been through," James said. "Being that No. 1 guy and how do you adjust to it and how do you get through it while still performing at a high level. Sometimes it can be difficult on someone and I'm trying to be that guy that can really help him get through a lot of situations which he's never seen before."

The relationship has grown in the past few months, James said, and reaches out to Pryor on game days as well as other times throughout the week.

OSU head coach Jim Tressel said there are benefits that come from having a player like James looking out for Pryor.

"From where I sit, LeBron has done a lot of things very well in a very difficult situation with expectations," the coach said. "The whole city of Cleveland, it seems at times, holds their breath to see if he can give them something extraordinary to feel about. I don't study him. I don't watch every interview, but every time I've seen a sound byte or seen a performance, he does pretty well. Is there an upside to it? I would sense there is."

In addition, Pryor said he keeps in contact with Miami (Fla.) starting quarterback Jacory Harris. The two met through defensive lineman Marcus Forston, who played in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl with Pryor in high school.

Harris and Pryor exchange text messages throughout the week as well, apparently.

"He was forcing stuff a lot when they played against Oklahoma," Pryor said. "He said, ‘Man, you were doing the same thing I was doing. I started calming myself down and taking what they were giving. Sooner or later that big play is going to come.' "

That lesson is no different than the one preached to him daily by the Buckeye coaching staff and players, but it comes across differently when delivered from someone else outside of Pryor's immediate surroundings.

"He's not afraid to be open to the comments from someone he might think has some credence," Tressel said. "That's why I'm not sure that it kills him that whoever is saying whatever. I'm not sure he looks at them as being quite as creditable as people coaching or people that maybe he looks (up to)."

The Expectations: It is no secret that Pryor was billed as a can't-miss recruit coming out of high school. It is hard to hide from the reputation that comes with being the nation's top overall recruit, and a number of the Buckeyes said they had to adjust their expectations when Pryor arrived on campus.

"To be honest, when he got here I made a conscious effort not to go by what the media said all the hype," junior wide receiver Dane Sanzenbacher said. "I wanted to see what he was actually all about and see what plays he could make when he was actually here."

Sanzenbacher said he felt most of his teammates took the same approach. Senior defensive lineman Todd Denlinger admitted to not being sure what Pryor would be like upon his arrival.

"He came in and we weren't really sure what to expect out of him," he said. "And he showed greatness. That's kind of what got him in this situation. He showed how good he can be, and now people expect him do that all the time. When he has a couple of slip-ups, people maybe don't know how to handle that because he's put up high because he's a great player."

The Loyal Friend: He might not have had a lot of sympathetic ears in Columbus this week, but Pryor could find a pair in DeVier Posey.

Three days removed from the Purdue game, Posey – who has emerged as Pryor's favorite target – spoke out on behalf of his quarterback and urged patience.

"From his first pass they're like, ‘Aw, he's not really that good,' " Posey said. "He's going to be a great player and it's going to happen in time. He's further along than Troy (Smith) was or Vince Young was. I just feel like if people are patient and he's patient, he's not going to be great tomorrow but if he works on it tomorrow, eventually in a year or two or maybe by the end of this year he'll be a great player."

Both Posey and Pryor were five-star recruits in OSU's 2008 recruiting class and entered the program with their own amounts of fanfare. The most attention went to Pryor, however, who was the nation's No. 1 overall prospect after a stellar career at Jeannette, Pa.

But after leading the Big Ten in passing efficiency as a true freshman, Pryor's game appeared to take a step backward during his past two games. After tossing interceptions on back-to-back possessions against Purdue, his season total sits at eight with five regular-season games remaining.

"I don't really feel like he needs people to get in his face," Posey said. "I don't want to say that. He needs people to encourage him. We always know to encourage loudly and criticize softly and that's what he needs.

"I feel like if anybody's going to do it, I would be the person to do that. I'll get in his face. I'll talk to him. He needs that sometimes to just get him back focused in. I really don't feel like a lot of people would try to yell at him."

The Funniest Question: On Thursday, Tressel was asked if he felt Pryor was being used correctly within the OSU offense. His response?

"Oh, absolutely."

What other answer could he have possibly given?

The OSU Hope: Pryor's media session this week has been well-documented, both in this article and across the internet.

If there is one quote straight from the horse's mouth that sums up the feeling Pryor espoused during the week, it is the one that follows.

"I feel so relaxed," he said. "Let's just be real here: if you were all the quarterback at Ohio State and you've got all these people around you, you're sort of like a superstar. You start maybe thinking too much of yourself and maybe losing your head a little bit and losing focus. I think I lost a lot of focus there. Throwing interceptions, that's just not me."

Now, will it result in better play this week? Impossible to tell from mid-week talk. But for the first time since his arrival in Columbus, it sounds like Pryor understands his situation for perhaps the first time.

Let's see where he goes from here.


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