BEREA— It wasn’t going to happen, but that didn’t mean Pete Carroll couldn't try.
Terrelle Pryor, a 6’5 quarterback out of Pittsburgh, PA, was the nation’s top high-school recruit and Carroll was the head coach at the prestigious University of Southern California.
Carroll was enamored with Pryor, the physical, athletic freak, and wanted to see him suit up for the Trojans
“I thought he was the best athlete in the country at the time, tremendous versatility and all of that,” Carroll said. “He was a long way away from us. We couldn’t really get it going in recruiting like we wanted to, but we were willing to take a shot at it at the time.”
Pryor agreed with Carroll; the distance was too much to transition into a Trojan.
“It was too far away,” Pryor said, when asked about Carroll's recruiting involvement. “He was at USC, it’s a great school, obviously, but that’s all the conversation we really had.”
After a long and drawn-out process, Pryor picked Jim Tressel and Ohio State over Carroll and the Trojans and, in doing so, made it so that his first action on the road as a collegiate athlete came in the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, otherwise known as the home of USC football.
The Buckeyes were blown out in that contest by a score of 35-3, but Pryor played productively off the bench, showing flashes of the collegiate player he would become in the near future.
A year later, the Buckeyes and Trojans battled it out again, but this time things were a bit different.
Pryor started at quarterback for the Buckeyes and kept things close against USC until the Trojans’ freshman signal caller, Matt Barkley, led his team to a late 18-15 win at Ohio Stadium.
Carroll has great memories from those two contests, but admitted that the second victory was a bit sweeter than the first.
“It was always fun to beat Ohio State. That was pretty cool. We liked beating all of the big schools that weren’t in our conference,” Carroll said. “That (second) one in particular, I had been there one year and so I had a little bit of feel for Ohio State. That was a big accomplishment for us. The one that we won there at their place with a freshman quarterback at the end of the game was really a cool victory.”
From that point forward, Pryor and Carroll didn’t exchange much of a dialogue until the Seahawks came calling in April of 2014.
For a seventh round pick, the Seahawks acquired Pryor from the Oakland Raiders and Carroll was finally given the opportunity to coach the quarterback, years after he tried to pull him from his Midwestern roots.
“He’s an incredible athlete,” Carroll said. “When we got him, in our offense we were looking for could he be a guy that could keep our offense the same when he got on the field so that we could still run the football and do the things we like to do with the quarterback.”
Carroll admitted that Pryor’s athleticism made it tempting to try him out at receiver, but Seattle kept him at quarterback before cutting him after the 2014 preseason ended.
While the ending in Seattle wasn’t one that Pryor wanted, he did have fond memories of his months with the Seahawks and felt honored to have had the opportunity to be coached by Carroll.
“Coach Carroll and his coaching staff, they are a first class coaching staff,” Pryor said. “I think he is one of the best coaches I have ever had. We have got a great coach here as well. I’ve had a lot of great coaches and he is definitely one of them.”
Now, nearly a year-and-a-half later, the coach and the athlete are set to meet again on Sunday in Seattle with Pryor playing a new position— a position in which Carroll believes No. 17 can thrive.
“He’s the right size to do that. He’d have to transition his mentality,” Carroll said, when asked about Pryor as a receiver. “He’s been a quarterback and a slashing scorer in basketball his whole life. It just depends on if he wants to make that transition. He’s capable of doing that in my mind, yeah.”
While Pryor is still trying to make the tough transition to wideout, he’s doing his best to play the role of coach as well this week, having spent quality time playing against Seattle’s vaunted defense.
“I played QB versus those guys and against their first team a lot in camp and practice and all that stuff, so I know how they play,” Pryor said. “Definitely, they’re a great defense. Just been telling the other receivers and been telling the offense, I’ve been trying to give little tips.”
Pryor wouldn’t exactly reveal what he’s telling his teammates about the Seahawks, but he did say that if the Browns play up to their caliber, there’s no reason why it shouldn’t be his turn to claim victory over Carroll.
“We know what we’re going against and if we play our game, I believe that we can definitely compete with them,” Pryor said. “We can pull off a win against anybody if we play hard.”
For all of your Browns news and updates from Berea, follow Hayden Grove on Twitter: @H_Grove.