Todd Porter: In-demand recruit keeping everyone guessing

Todd Porter

What if the college football world was your oyster? What if you were 18 years old and had every college football coach in the country salivating at your feet? Every recruiting service wanting to know your every move? Grown men following your daily moves on the Internet?

So you are Terrelle Pryor, the 6-foot-6, 225-pound quarterback from Jeannette (Pa.) High School. The guy they’re all calling a can’t-miss college quarterback. The guy who is a difference maker before ever playing a game or setting foot on campus. You’re the guy who can change a college football program’s image just by signing there Feb. 6.

Ohio State Head Coach Jim Tressel reportedly was in Pennsylvania on Wednesday. He was visiting Pryor, trying to get the deal closed -- or at least convince Pryor that Columbus is the best place to be.

In a few days, Pryor will hear the same pitch from new Michigan Head Coach Rich Rodriguez, providing he doesn’t shred his notes before getting there.

Duke, yes Duke, suddenly is on his radar.

What’s Duke going to do? Rename the university after him? Pryor may be everything everyone says he is. But there is no sure thing in recruiting.

“I hate to do this, but he’s Vince Young,” National Editor Jamie Newberg said. “They’re carbon copies of each other. He’s big, he moves around, he has great leadership skills, and he can carry a football team on his shoulders.”

Predicting what Pryor will do Feb. 6, national signing day, is like pulling a name out of a hat. Recruiting experts who spend way more time researching high school football players than any of us should legally be allowed believe Ohio State has a slight lead.

If you are Pryor, here are the reasons to go to Ohio State. Graduate from high school early and enroll in time for spring football. The Buckeyes are on academic quarters. All of the other schools Pryor is considering are on semesters. Enrolling early and playing spring football anywhere else is not an option.

The Buckeyes have talent. Pryor won’t be thrown to the wolves and become a rag doll as a freshman.

Ohio State is restocking the offensive front with the best group of linemen in the country. They have established receivers and tailback Beanie Wells, probably a Heisman Trophy candidate next season. Pryor is the kind of player who makes Todd Boeckman better and maybe takes over at quarterback all in the same breath. Talent is bred from competition.

“Terrelle Pryor will close any gap with anybody,” Newberg said. “The kid has a chance to be that good. Football is the ultimate team game, and one guy can’t do it alone. But he closes the gap between Ohio State and the SEC.”

Then there is Michigan. Why should Pryor go to Michigan? Rodriguez is bringing his tailor-made spread, read-option offense to the Wolverines. Pryor fits that system like Cinderella’s slipper.

Sure, he’ll be every bit as unproven as most of the players around him, but he will be the unabashed star in Ann Arbor. The heir apparent, Ryan Mallett, transferred. The starting QB job is Pryor’s on Feb. 6.

But he’ll have to do it alone, or at least wait for help to develop. Michigan is losing its running back and receivers.

“Michigan has not recruited as well as people think,” said Duane Long, recruiting editor for and Ohio High magazine. “They had some recruiting classes the last couple of years that I didn’t think were as good as everyone else did.”

There is a drawback to Rodriguez’s offense. It produces NFL-quality running backs, not quarterbacks. No one in the NFL runs the read-option spread, and they have no use for system quarterbacks. Tressel’s spread offense relies on the quarterback, such as Troy Smith, to run but also throw from the pocket.

If you are Pryor, with God-given talent running over the cup, what would you do?

Exactly what he is doing.

Enjoying the moment, keeping everyone guessing. Being Mr. February is easy.

They start keeping score -- and forming educated opinions -- in August.

Reach Repository sports writer Todd Porter at (330) 580-8340 or e-mail