Nation's top QB prospect has Buckeyes on his list

Staff Writer
The Columbus Dispatch

"You have reached an automated voice-mail system. Terrelle is not available."

Actually, Terrelle is available, which is why he rarely answers his cell phone or returns calls.

Terrelle Pryor is a 6-foot-6, 215-pound star quarterback (and basketball forward) about to enter his senior year at Jeannette (Pa.) High School, about 15 miles east of Pittsburgh.

"Star" might not begin to describe him. Rivals.com and USA Today have named him the nation's No. 1 football recruit. Scout.com considers him No. 2, behind linebacker Arthur Brown of Wichita, Kan.

"He's a freak athlete," said Dublin Coffman offensive lineman and Ohio State 2008 commitment Mike Adams, who recently watched Pryor during the Buckeyes' summer camp. "We saw him on the basketball court in the Woody Hayes Center and he was doing some outrageous dunks with ease."

Duane Long, recruiting editor of Ohio High magazine and Bucknuts.com, said Pryor "is better than (former Texas star) Vince Young at the same point in their careers."

These days, being a coveted high school player attracts an avalanche of attention. Being the coveted high school player -- a quarterback who might instantly be a household name -- takes the recruiting fever to a whole different level.

"He's laying low," said Mike Farrell, national recruiting analyst for Rivals.com and one of the few to speak with Pryor recently. "If he doesn't know you, he's not going to call you back."

Part of the problem is that Pryor has been relatively slow to narrow his list. Out of 50-75 scholarship offers, his choice is down to 11 schools, including Ohio State.

"He's not just getting calls from those 11 schools, but there are two different (recruiting) services who cover each of those 11 schools, and they call for updates," Long said. "Alabama fans don't want to hear an update from an Ohio State site -- they want their own update.

"Plus, local (reporters). I hear parents say they get 100 calls a day, every day, starting at breakfast and going late into the night."

In a story in the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, Pryor said, "All the attention can be overwhelming, but I deserve all the attention because of all the hard work I've done."

Because he, too, had to endure the process, Adams said he and his fellow Ohio State class of 2008 recruits did not try to pressure or sway Pryor when he attended the camp June 22.

"We just like to just get to know kids and see what they're like," Adams said. "If they have questions, we answer them, obviously. But we try to make people feel like they could be at home here."

Buckeyes fans hope he finds a home here.

Last season, Pryor had 1,676 yards rushing on 197 attempts (8.7 average) and 1,732 yards passing on 92 completions in 163 attempts. In basketball, he averaged 20.8 points, 10 rebounds, 7 assists, 3 steals and 3 blocks.

It's not every day Ohio State is seriously in the hunt for a player of this caliber.

"I'd say you'd have to go back to Ted Ginn (Jr. in 2004); he's that good," Long said. "As far as quarterbacks, he's higher rated than Justin Zwick was. He may be the highest rated player (considering Ohio State) since Art Schlichter. He's one of those unique guys that you'd remember for a lifetime."

But first things first; his decision. Also on his list besides Ohio State are Alabama, Florida, Georgia Tech, Michigan, Michigan State, Notre Dame, Penn State, Tennessee, Texas and West Virginia.

And until he makes up his mind, he and his family will continue to let the calls go straight to voice mail.

"I see him going underground even more," Farrell said. "I fully expect Terrelle to be completely inaccessible as we get closer to signing day."

kgordon@dispatch.com

    OSU ... all the time

  • Are you receiving our free Ohio State headlines e-mail? If not, why not? Details