I normally can't stand talking about recruits, as the notion of ranking, rating, and sizing up high school kids just seems wrong to me. I laugh at the writers and television anchors who hype up 17 and 18 year old players to be the next big thing.
People at that age are unpredictable. I still can't remember where I thought I would be in life when I was that young (I will be 24 next week). So many five star recruits end up as disappointments four years later, and many no-name projects become Heisman finalists or high NFL draft choices.
However I feel compelled to give a pat on the back to this year's cream of the crop: Terrelle Pryor.
I honestly don't know a whole lot about this kid, but from what I gather he is a Vince Young-type player who outclassed all competition in talent-rich western Pennsylvania. He is the unanimous top recruit in the nation and could have started as a freshman at any school.
Pryor narrowed his choices to four colleges: Penn State, his home state school; Michigan, where he would be the perfect quarterback in new coach Rich Rodriguez's spread option offense; Oregon, where he would succeed last year's would-be Heisman winner Dennis Dixon in the same offense; or Ohio State, who returns 20 starters in 2007 and whose returning quarterback Todd Boeckman had just guided the Buckeyes to the national title game.
If Pryor chose Penn State, he would have been anointed has the homegrown savior for the next generation of Nittany Lion supporters. He most undoubtedly would start this fall, and I believe they would have a good team, maybe 9-3.
The hitch is that there is uncertainty regarding Joe Paterno's replacement, who will have taken the reins of the program during Pryor's reign. Learning a new offensive philosophy after taking much time to master the previous one is no easy task. Sorry Happy Valley, but the kid will have to pass.
Then there is Michigan, whose new offense is tailored to Pryor's style of play. It seems to have everything Terrelle could ask for—tradition, huge stadium, cool unis, the spread option, a team for which he would be the offensive leader the second after the ink dried on the letter of intent.
Just one problem though—Michigan does not return much seasoned talent. There is no Mike Hart, Mario Manningham, or Jake Long. The Wolverines would rely on him as a true freshman to carry the offense. Sorry Big Blue, but Terrelle already has too much pressure on him as the premier prospect in the country to put all the expectation demanded by Michigan tradition on his back.
Well, what about Oregon? Too far away from home, and the uniforms are too ugly. My guess is Pryor saw a lot of himself watching Dixon play, and that's why the Ducks made his final list.
That leaves Ohio State.
Let's flash back to 2006, specifically the team that beat the Buckeyes in the title game that year. Florida had a senior quarterback who managed the game well and let his playmakers do what they did best. They also had the top-ranked prospect in the nation at quarterback who provided a dramatic change of pace by using his legs and power.
Not to say that Pryor will run over people like Tebow, but he could be as effective or better in a similar role with the Buckeyes, whose senior quarterback went 11-2 last season despite not being outstanding. Combine this correlation with the fact that Ohio State is only losing two starters from a national runner-up team, and you could have something really special.
This is the perfect situation for Pryor, who would not have to carry the team right away, but rather would be an X-factor and a contributor while he learns the intricacies of high level football.
Even though I can't stand Ohio State and their obnoxious fans (I hate Michigan even more), I have to say I admire Terrelle Pryor hanging patiently in the pocket and ignoring the meddling media to make the correct collegiate decision. Most people that age don't take the time to weigh the pros and cons of choices they are given in life, so keep it up Terrelle.
Here's hoping for many more great decisions that will lead to you becoming a college football legend.