Pryor says he'll attend Ohio State

March 19, 2008 9:07:57 PM PDT
Oregon was too far away. Penn State was too rural. Michigan was a close second. Terrelle Pryor, the highly touted western Pennsylvania prep quarterback, announced Wednesday that he will play for Ohio State next season.

The 6-foot-6, two-sport star - flanked by his parents, two younger siblings and some of his coaches - made the announcement on the auditorium stage at Jeannette Senior High School near Pittsburgh, where Pryor had one of the greatest prep careers in Pennsylvania history.

"If everyone's here," Pryor said to start the news conference, "University of Ohio State." He then unzipped his windbreaker to reveal an Ohio State T-shirt and donned an OSU hat. His parents, Craig and Thomasina, also revealed Ohio State shirts.

Pryor, considered by many scouts to be the top-rated unsigned high school recruit in the country, said he couldn't go wrong with any of the four schools he considered.

But he said the car trip for his family to games in Columbus, Ohio, is shorter than the flights they would have to take to Oregon. Penn State was too "countryside." And, despite a last-minute push by new Michigan coach Rich Rodriguez, Pryor decided Ohio State is best for him, even though senior Todd Boeckman is the entrenched starter and Pryor felt he would have a chance to start as a freshman at Michigan.

"I can learn from a senior," Pryor said. "And whenever I can get in on some plays, I can make something happen."

Pryor said he didn't make a final choice until Wednesday morning.

When he told Jim Tressel, the coach said, "Welcome to the family."

As for his final call with Rodriguez: "He was still recruiting me, giving me lines," Pryor said. "Coach Rod did his job. He's gonna be a great coach; he is a great coach. He'll make stuff happen (at Michigan)."

Pryor called a Feb. 6 news conference to announce his choice, but then said he hadn't chosen a school after all.

Tressel said he was impressed by that, given that Pryor was trying to help his high school basketball team to a state championship and was mulling conflicting advice from his friends and family.

Tressel said Pryor felt like "there's a whole bunch of people that are very important in my life who think I should give this some more thought. He respected them and he loves them. So I think he's grossly misunderstood."

Pryor's advice to other recruits: "Pick early, you don't want to go through it."

Asked about advice from his father and others, Pryor said simply, "I'm an 18-year-old kid and I feel like a man. I gotta make choices for myself."

One person noticeably absent Wednesday was Charlie Batch, the backup Steelers quarterback and family friend who advised Pryor. Pryor said the former Detroit Lions starter, who played at Eastern Michigan in college, was pushing Michigan.

Batch was in Hawaii during the announcement.

"He's up right now, texting me actually. I mean, he's cool with my decision," Pryor said. "He's just trying to see which one would be, for me, better to get in the NFL."

Pryor brushed off local talk show criticism about his image stemming from his nonannouncement last month, and a scuffle earlier this month between some Jeannette players and another team after a recent state playoff game.

"I'm not worried about none of that," Pryor said. "I think the football field will speak for itself. I mean, that's why you are here, right? Whether I was a bad kid or not, you are still here."

Pryor said he doesn't seek attention. "Ask my teammates, ask anybody around here. That's not how I am. I don't like being in the spotlight at all. I didn't ask to be number one in the country."

Ohio State signed 19 players last month and had been holding a 20th scholarship for Pryor.

Pryor is the only Pennsylvania player to both rush and pass for at least 4,000 yards in football. He also scored 2,285 points in basketball. Pryor doesn't plan to play college basketball because he said it will interfere with his goal of becoming a top-flight quarterback.

"I mean, we just want to work hard and do whatever we can to help Coach Tress get over that little hump he got - that little championship losing two years in a row," Pryor said.


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