Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Becoming a Legend: What Terrelle Pryor Must Do

by Tim Bielik
BlockONation Analyst

For as much disappointment as Buckeye fans witnessed in 2008, they saw just as much promise in the nation's most hyped recruit, Terrelle Pryor. Now he returns for his sophomore season with a year's worth of experience under his belt.

With the senior class of James Laurinaitis and Malcolm Jenkins gone, the burden falls on Pryor to be a leader for this young batch of Buckeyes ready to begin a new era in Columbus.

Many feel this will be Pryor's breakout season and possibly a Heisman year for the young gun from Jeannette, PA.

Sophomores have won the Heisman in the past two years, so the trend bodes well for Pryor heading into 2009.

Though he came into Columbus raw as a passer, fans saw tremendous progression in the then-freshman week after week.

He quickly showed little fear of the spotlight, and actually little fear of anything on the field, as evidenced by his verbal tussle with USC safety Taylor Mays.

Pryor's fearless attitude serves as a new mentality for the Buckeyes, looking to inject new life into a program that has seen a failure to win big games in recent years.

He hopes to lead the charge to change perceptions and bring Jim Tressel his second FBS title in his tenure at Ohio State.

But for Pryor to succeed, he must continue to improve certain facets of his game.

Most crucial are his overall passing skills out of the pocket.

Pryor's main focus for coming to Columbus was to learn how to become a pro-style QB, and that means being a threat with the arm and legs.

He showed he could make deep throws but really lacked velocity and a fluid throwing motion last season. But over the course of this spring, he has improved the velocity and accuracy of his medium-range passes.

Critics want to know if he can make all the throws, short and long. With an offense where Pryor is surrounded with potential playmakers at receiver and RB, he just has to put the ball in places where they can make plays.

Pryor must also make sure he improves his decision making.

In some situations, he was indecisive about whether he wanted to run or pass, and that led to sacks or impossible escapes out of the pocket.

If he has a safety valve on offense such as a RB dumpoff, Pryor's life will be much easier knowing he has someone to get the ball to if protection breaks down.

No doubt he has the speed to blast through holes in the pocket and run for yardage, but he will soon learn to make safe plays and protect his body for future situations.

Going along with that is learning that sometimes the best play is just throwing the ball away and not losing yardage.

Finally, he will have to learn to manage being the team leader on and off the field.

Last season, he had the comfort of the seniors being the focal points of the team. Now the dynamic shifts, with Pryor as the face of the Buckeyes.

He might not be a captain this year, being a sophomore, but he has as much a leadership role as anyone on the team and will have to push them as hard as he can to get back to the level the Buckeyes have been at for the past several years.

Few doubt that Pryor won't work as hard as possible to be the best he can be, and possibly the best Buckeye in history, which would be an illustrious distinction.

If Pryor can lead Ohio State to an upset win over USC, there is no contention his legend will rise to new heights. If he also becomes a more complete passer, he can be one of the greatest of all time.

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