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March 18, 2008It's finally over, or at least it will be Wednesday afternoon.
The recruiting process for Jeannette, Pa., quarterback Terrelle Pryor, the nation's No. 1 player, will end when he announces his college choice at noon ET Wednesday at the Jeannette High School auditorium. Pryor has said publicly it is down to two schools, but won't say which two. Here's Rivals.com National Recruiting Analyst Mike Farrell's take on the situation.
"I spoke to Terrelle late Sunday night after hearing about the Associated Press article where he said he was deciding this week," said Farrell. "I knew he was going to say something about his football recruiting situation after that game, but wasn't sure if he was going to narrow things down, give a date of his decision or what. We had discussed some things off the record; he just didn't want it out there and he had some good reasons. I think he knew last week."
The timing of the 6-foot-6, 235-pounder's public comments shouldn't be overlooked according to Farrell.
"Terrelle was hoping he would be playing for a state title in basketball on Penn State's campus on Saturday, so there were certain things he didn't want public last week and still doesn't really want out there," Farrell continued. "He has done his research. He has talked to the coaches - as well as players and recruits - from his top two teams. Now it seems like he's ready to get it over with even though he has until April 1."
Farrell feels the two schools he's choosing between are obvious.
"To me, it's Ohio State and Michigan," Farrell said. "Had he eliminated Penn State before the basketball title game in State College, things could have gotten a little ugly or at least distracted the basketball team. There could have been some signs, some hecklers, just some general distractions that he didn't want. I also don't think he has ever wanted to disrespect Penn State in any way. Some of the things he's said about Penn State like not liking the area and such, that's just who he is - he's honest and tells it like it is. He loves coach Tom Bradley and has great respect for Joe Paterno, he's always said that. I know he really wanted to win the state title and didn't want his football issues to get in the way of things for his basketball teammates."
Pryor scored 23 points and pulled down eight rebounds to lead his team to a 76-72 overtime win over Strawberry Mansion in the Class AA title game Saturday. Shortly thereafter, he told the AP he's going to sign his letter of intent and end the recruiting process.
"He didn't even remember saying that he narrowed it down to two or whatever and didn't know who he said it to, but he said it was accurate," said Farrell. "He has a great deal of respect for all the coaches that have recruited him, so he doesn't want to say one team finished second or third. I expect to see four hats (Oregon, Penn State, Michigan and Ohio State) on the table if he does the hat deal when deciding, but he's down to two for sure.
"He wouldn't tell me which two though, and I didn't press him," Farrell said. "But look at it this way. He waited until after he finished his game at Penn State to make this announcement, and he was on campus strictly for hoops - which means he never took his planned official visit to Happy Valley. He has never been to Oregon, so that leaves Ohio State and Michigan."
Pryor will talk to the head coaches at his final two schools this week before deciding.
"He spoke to Joe Paterno Sunday night and I got the impression that coach Paterno was not one of those two head coaches," Farrell said. "I think he talks to Rich Rodriguez and Jim Tressel this week, talks it over one more time with his family and then decides."
Farrell said Pryor had hoped to visit Penn State as well as take day trips to Ohio State and Michigan with his mother before deciding.
"He said that's not happening now," Farrell continued. "He said it's his decision and his parents are backing him all the way. Is there a chance he sneaks in a visit to Penn State between now and when he decides? There's always that chance, but it didn't sound like it was in the plans reading between the lines."
If Penn State is truly out, is Pryor's father, Craig, OK with that? After all, it was Craig who wanted his son to delay signing so Penn State could get an official visit.
"I think he wanted to take his time and make sure he was making the right choice," Farrell said. "He respected his family's input, which is why he held off on Signing Day. His dad wanted him to give another look to Penn State. I know Terrelle talked to a few Western Pennsylvania guys currently on Penn State's team recently about the coaching situation up there and the atmosphere. He did some research on his own, and I think his dad is good with that."
So if it's Ohio State and Michigan, who wins?
"To me, I'd be stunned if he picked anyplace but Ohio State," Farrell stated. "He did say he was still doing research on Michigan and that he didn't know, as of Sunday night, where he was going. But I think he's pretty sure. He took that one-day trip to Ohio State for a basketball game recently, and he's friendly with Ohio State signees like Michael Brewster and J.B. Shugarts. He really likes the area, the coaching staff and everything. There have been stunning decisions before and I've been wrong before, but Ohio State is my guess and has been for a long time."
Did Pryor ever attempt to get to Penn State for that official visit?
"I think he was going to take it the same weekend his father, Craig, had emergency heart surgery a couple of weekends ago," Farrell said. "There was a small window of opportunity to visit Penn State, but it didn't happen."
As for a date for the decision, Pryor indicated to Farrell he was still unsure of the particulars.
"I got a text from him Monday morning telling me I'd know when he does," Farrell said. "He's trying to work that out with his coach and principal. It is looking like it will be either Thursday or Friday of this week. He knows he's going to have to do a news conference, although he'd rather just pick a school and end this.