Ohio State Playing It Smart by Not Using Terelle Pryor

Ryan StaabAnalyst IApril 11, 2008

Anyone regularly following the Buckeyes will tell you they've already got a winning quarterback in Todd Boeckman.

Sure, the last two or three games of the 2007 season (Illinois, Michigan, LSU) may not have been impressive, but before that, Boeckman posted Troy Smith-caliber numbers and had a decent passing accuracy. So when Terrelle Pryor (finally) announced his intent to play for Ohio State several weeks ago, football pundits immediately speculated on how long it'd be into the 2008 season until you'd see Pryor taking snaps in place of Boeckman.

Cautious Buckeye fans knew better, as did the coaching staff and teammates, according to an AP article from April 10 (http://www.sportingnews.com/yourturn/viewtopic.php?t=398197).

Understandably, the biggest fear from many was that Pryor would be thrown into the system too early, and being unable to fully master Ohio State's offense, end up a huge bust. Given the criticism of the Buckeyes' performance in the last two BCS championship games against superior SEC teams, the last thing Ohio State needs is another black eye from the media, especially when it comes to recruiting.

"I don't think it happens too much throughout the country, coming in as a freshman (and starting) just because of the speed of the game and everything you've got to worry about," Boeckman told the AP.

Buckeyes quarterback coach Joe Daniels agreed.

"Its really hard," said Daniels. "About the only way that could be done, your offense would have to be so basic and so elementary."

Boeckman's no stranger to Ohio State's quarterback training, having watched Justin Zwick and Troy Smith for three years before assuming the role of starting quarterback in 2007.

Boeckman's teammates are also behind him, agreeing that the freshman should stay on the sidelines as much as possible his first year.

"I'm not saying Terrelle Pryor's not going to get on the field, but to think that that kid could come in here and run our offense—you're out of your mind, tight end Rory Nicol said.

"No freshman can do that. Not here. Not with the way we run an offense."

However, the AP article curiously lacks any mention of Antonio Henton, Boeckman's current backup QB. Given the hype surrounding Pryor, it's not hard to see why he's been forgotten, but that doesn't mean he should be expected to give up his spot as the team's No. 2 quarterback.

Granted his only stats from the 2007 season (after red-shirting in 2006) were in three games, resulting in three completions in six attempts for 57 yards—including one touchdown pass.

But with a coaching staff that's taken its team to the BCS Championship twice in the past three years, it's safe to assume there's more to him than the relatively meager stats he posted in three games from 2007.

One can hope that bodes well for Pryor, assuming Henton takes over in his senior year in 2009, after Boeckman graduates. If Pryor takes at least two seasons to learn the system and improve his passing game as head coach Jim Tressel has promised, Buckeye fans will have every reason in the world to buy into the hype.

But that doesn't mean you won't see him taking a few snaps during the 2008 season. Despite not arriving on campus until the middle of the summer, Tressel has confirmed that Pryor will be competing with Boeckman (and presumably Henton) for playing time.

While it's easy to make assumptions in April, nobody knows for sure until the 2008 season begins. You may very well see Pryor taking snaps at the LA Memorial Coliseum against USC if the game doesn't go the way the Buckeyes want it to.

Until then, the Buckeyes are making the right choice in sticking with Boeckman.