Pryor takes rivalry to another level

 

 

ANN ARBOR, Mich. – Terrelle Pryor lives in a small town near Pittsburgh, insulated from the Ohio State-Michigan rivalry.

The highly touted quarterback is about to make a decision, though, that might end up making him a pivotal player in one of the marquee matchups in sports.

Pryor is expected to announce Wednesday where he will play football next fall and many will be surprised if he doesn’t choose to be a Buckeye or a Wolverine.

“He has no idea what the rivalry is about and how much he has added to the intensity of it,” said Steelers quarterback Charlie Batch, a family friend and recruiting adviser. “I know all about it after playing at Eastern Michigan and for the Lions, so it’ll be interesting to see how it plays out if he chooses Ohio State or Michigan.”

The Jeannette High School star might stay closer to home to play for Joe Paterno at Penn State. Or, he could possibly stun everyone tuning in to hear what he says on national TV by picking Oregon, LSU or Florida. Or he could take some extra time to make up his mind. Wednesday is only the first day of the signing period. While most top players ink a scholarship that day, they’re not obligated to do so.

“He’s still unsure what he is going to do at this point,” Batch said Monday night.

Only one thing seems clear.

The Ohio State-Michigan series has not been played out off the field quite like it has since Rich Rodriguez left West Virginia to coach in Ann Arbor.

Don Nehlen, Rodriguez’s coach and mentor at West Virginia, quickly raised the stakes.

“If that kid comes, he’s probably more important than Rich,” Nehlen joked six weeks ago.

Pryor, also an all-state basketball star, has been juggling recruiting visits and meetings with his basketball games. The 6-foot-6 Pryor is rated as the No. 1 recruit at any position by Rivals.com and Scout.com and was the MVP last month in U.S. Army All-American game in San Antonio.

“He’s in a class of his own and he compares favorably to Vince Young and Randall Cunningham because he’s a freak athlete that is a threat to throw or run,” Rivals.com’s Mike Farrell said.

In a dissenting opinion, Takkel.com ranks him 16th overall.

“Don’t get me wrong, he’s a brilliant athlete,” said Bill Urbanik, a former coach and scout, whose evaluation contributed to Takkel.com’s rankings. “But like other big quarterbacks such as Vince Young, Michael Vick and Steve McNair, he doesn’t show the ability to throw the ball accurately.”

Pryor is the only player in the rich history of Pennsylvania high school history to run for and throw for more than 4,000 yards.

The accessibility of Pryor’s highlights, the increased coverage from mainstream media, his delayed decision and the Ohio State-Michigan factor has contributed to Pryor’s recruitment becoming a transcendent story.

The Wolverine editor John Borton said,”What makes it different is he’s the No. 1 prospect in the country and nobody knows where he’s going until he puts the pen on the paper.”