Standing at a podium facing the north end of Ohio Stadium during the team's photo day, Pryor consistently found himself questioned on how much he had grown while on the job. After beginning his college career as the former top prep prospect in the nation, Pryor ascended to the starting spot four games into his freshman season and has started every game since.
Now facing a junior season with lofty expectations for both Pryor and the Buckeyes, the quarterback said the lessons learned in Columbus have him planning to return for a senior season as well. And in talking about those lessons, Pryor offered an unprompted proclamation about his future.
"Every day I go to work," he said. "My freshman and sophomore year I wasn't trying to get better every day. Now I push myself because I got so close with the senior guys now that I want to go out with a bang.
"I want to leave a legacy here. That's my goal. That's why I'll be here for four years."
The deadline to declare for the NFL draft is not for about five more months, giving Pryor plenty of time to change his mind, but it marked the first time the quarterback has been known to publicly discuss his NFL plans.
The NFL has always been an interesting topic for top juniors in Columbus. Five years ago, then-junior wide receiver Santonio Holmes referred to the upcoming season as his "money year." He became a first-round draft pick that April.
One year later, wide receiver Anthony Gonzalez spoke at length throughout the season about how he would certainly be back for his senior season. He, too, wound up being drafted in the first round the following April. Running back Chris "Beanie" Wells also made a similar proclamation.
So while Pryor's words might sound like a binding promise to Buckeye fans, there is precedent for players voicing their plans to return only to wind up declaring for the draft. In Pryor's case, however, the junior spoke at length about his bond with his teammates and credited them for helping him mature into the person and player he is today.
"I think I was a little arrogant (at first)," he said. "I think I was arrogant and I was kind of to myself. I don't know what was special to me. I didn't know what I loved. When you grow up and mature and be around a great group of guys that tell you how you act and you finally hear it, it's great. You can grow from that, and that's how I grew."
Pryor specifically singled out head coach Jim Tressel and wide receiver DeVier Posey as Buckeyes who have helped mold him into the person he is today.
After a breakout performance in the Rose bowl, that person Pryor feels he has become is also a preseason candidate for the Heisman Trophy. He enters the season 11th in school history in total offense and a 19-3 record as a starter.
During the offseason, Pryor said he has adjusted his mechanics – long a staple of discussion – and now releases the ball from a higher point. The result has been more powerful, accurate throws, he said.
He also has worn a brace on his left knee after undergoing surgery to repair a slightly torn PCL that he said significantly affected him throughout his sophomore season.
"When I injured the knee against New Mexico State, there was a lot of pain," he said. "I couldn't run very much. There were a couple games where I couldn't run because when I cut my leg would just give. Some throws I couldn't make off the run."
In the meeting room, Pryor said he has progressed to the point where he can see things on tape and point them out to the other quarterbacks. Freshman quarterback Taylor Graham said Pryor has been helpful throughout the summer as he has tried to learn the OSU system.
"The way I go about it is now, it's business," Pryor said. "Every time I'm in the film room, as lame as it sounds I'm sitting up. I'm not slouched over or leaning over. I'm answering questions when coach asks questions to other players because that's the type of person that I am."
His experience, coupled with the gains Pryor said he feels he has made mentally, have the Buckeye quarterback feeling more complete than ever.
"I really feel like a quarterback now," he said. "I feel like I can be a complete quarterback, but I can also run the ball. It's going to be interesting. I feel smarter and with how much I grew, it's going to be an interesting year for me."
If so, it could make for an even more interesting offseason.