Ohio State's Terrelle Pryor: Heisman Hopeful?

Matt AlgarinContributor IAugust 20, 2009

COLUMBUS, OH - NOVEMBER 22:  Quarterback Terrelle Pryor #2 of the Ohio State Buckeyes moves to pass the ball during the Big Ten Conference game against the Michigan Wolverines at Ohio Stadium on November 22, 2008 in Columbus, Ohio.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

Entering his sophomore year at Ohio State, Terrelle Pryor is now the big man on campus.  Lofty expectations hide in every corner and talks of a return to a New Year’s Day bowl game are everywhere.

Currently, coaches, media, and national television talking heads are in an uproar about whether Terrelle Pryor could really have run a 4.33 40-yard dash.  This is a pretty impressive number, considering that only receivers Ray Small, DeVier Posey and running back and former Mr. Football in Ohio Brandon Saine ran under 4.5.

“I’m not so sure he might not be one of the fastest guys in the conference,” OSU coach Jim Tressel told the Cleveland Plain Dealer.

As you know, former West Virginia quarterback Pat White had the fastest 40 time at the combine over the past two years.  White posted a 4.55.

All this talk about Pryor made me wonder.  How does Pryor stack up against the big boys?  Can he be considered a Heisman Hopeful?

As a freshman, Pryor had a completion percentage of 60.6 and threw for 1,311 yards, 12 touchdowns and four interceptions.  Pryor also rushed 124 times for 53 yards and six touchdowns.

In addition to just the pure numbers, Pryor was 9-1 as a starter, the Big 10 freshman of the year and Big 10 preseason offensive player of the year.

So, let's take a minute to compare Pryor’s freshman stats to those of Tim Tebow, Sam Bradford, and Colt McCoy.

Tebow, as a freshman had a completion percentage of 66.7, threw for 358 yards, five touchdowns and one interception.  He also rushed for 469 yards and eight touchdowns.

Bradford had a completion percentage of 69.5 while throwing for 3,121 yards, 36 touchdowns and eight interceptions.  Bradford set a NCAA record with his 36 touchdown passes as a freshman and was honored by The Sporting News and Rivals.com as an All-American.

Colt McCoy, in his freshman year had a completion percentage of 68.2.  McCoy threw for 2,570 yards, 29 touchdowns and seven interceptions.  He also rushed for 170 yards and two touchdowns.

While Pryor’s numbers are not the best of the four quarterbacks, he, as well as Tebow, shared snaps in his freshman year.  Bradford is clearly the top freshman on this list.  All of these quarterbacks improved their numbers in the following season.  If you don’t recall, Tebow won the Heisman Trophy as a sophomore.

What can we expect from Pryor this season?

I think we can expect more of what we saw last year and then some.  Pryor is set to make big strides in the passing game.  He is going to be more comfortable in the offense and taking snaps from under center.

There are some questions in the Buckeye camp that are going to have to be answered.  The receivers that Pryor will be throwing to are not the household names of Brian Hartline and Brian Robiskie.

Senior Ray Small and junior Dane Sanzenbacher are the top two receivers in camp right now.  If they can step up and give Pryor some open targets on a consistent basis, then the passing game should not miss a step.

The other question is how the Buckeyes are going to replace the departed Beanie Wells.  Unlike last year, where Wells carried the load at running back, it’s going to have to be a shared effort this year.  Brandon Saine and Dan Herron are going to have to step up and be productive.  Nobody expects them to put up the same numbers, but they need to at least be able to give the Buckeyes a running threat and take pressure off Pryor.

If the Buckeyes can address these questions going into the season, the only thing they have to worry about will be the schedule.

The home schedule opens up at home with Navy and then there's the big showdown in Week Two against USC.  Pryor needs to put up good numbers here to put his name on the Heisman map.  The road schedule is tough with dates in Happy Valley against Penn State and the season finale at the Big House against Michigan.

Look for Pryor to put up big numbers at home with a relatively easy schedule.  Get ready to crown Pryor the next Heisman winner from Ohio State.