August 1, 2009

Pryor grabs attention from Big Ten QBs

CHICAGO - Ever since freshman quarterback Terrelle Pryor arrived on campus at Ohio State, Buckeye fans near and far have hoped for big things out of the signal caller.

Now it is just plain expected.

To cement the high expectations into reality was a preseason ballot filled out by the media at Big Ten Media Days in Chicago early this week in which the sophomore quarterback was voted as the player most likely to be eventually named as the Big Ten Conference's Offensive Player of the Year.

While preseason honors are often discounted by players and their coaches, Ohio State head coach Jim Tressel admitted it was a lofty honor and that he was "surprised" the sophomore was chosen.

But what was a testament to how much Pryor is already respected in this conference - despite being so young - his colleagues at quarterback from other teams who were expected to win the award thought it was a fair selection.

"That (award) is based on potential and the potential you have for the year," said Illinois senior quarterback Juice Williams, who was certainly in the conversation for the honor. "(Pryor) has potential through the roof so you can't really argue. It was a pretty good pick."

While Williams' explanation of the media's choice is broken down rather simply, one would argue that it should have been the senior from Illinois or another senior in Penn State's Darryl Clark who had their name on the preseason list.

And it's in the numbers.

When looking at what Williams accomplished last season it would surely be hard-pressed not to select him. As a junior, Williams passed for 3,173 yards and a Big Ten-leading 22 touchdowns while simply proving that he was one of the most explosive players in the conference.

The same could be said for Clark.

As a junior at Penn State, Clark threw for 19 touchdowns (second in the Big Ten), 2,597 yards and only threw six interceptions.

What has also been left out of the aforementioned statistical presentation is the fact that both Clark and Williams combined for over 1,000 yards rushing and 15 touchdowns on the ground.

So it should have been Pryor?

"I wasn't surprised because of how much of an impact he had on the Big Ten last year," Clark said. "I mean he made some really, really, good plays. He is a big playmaker and he is still a kid. For him to be picked as the preseason Offensive Player of the Year, it wasn't a surprise."

"He showed everyone in the country how explosive he is and how much of a game changer he can be," Clark added. "He played well last year, he was impressive in the Fiesta Bowl, and his future is really promising."

Clark was particularly impressed with what Pryor was able to accomplish at Ohio State despite working in his freshman season with a very limited playbook.

"I almost knew Tressel wasn't going to turn the entire passing playbook over to Pryor, that would have been a little overwhelming," Clark said. "Now that he has a year under his belt and has played some big teams, every Big Ten team, USC, and Texas, I am sure they will give him the playbook and he will have a big year."

Regardless of the preseason honor, there is no question Pryor has taken the conference by storm. He has become a household name and those who take pride in their own position look at Pryor as a model of what they could one day become.

And what's funny is Pryor hasn't even scratched the surface in terms of what he would find acceptable for his own performance. In fact he is just getting started.

"He is a special athlete. To be that big and fast, he is just a freak," said Northwestern quarterback Mike Kafka. "He had a great season last year coming in as a true freshman. I cant even imagine how tough that was, but he handled it well and I am sure he will have a good season."

The general prediction from just about everyone is that Pryor will have a fantastic season for the Buckeyes, and it is quite a testament to be widely respected by peers who have earned their stripes in this conference.

Only thing left for Pryor to do is live up to the hype. That isn't a small challenge.

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