Would it be fair to say that Terrelle Pryor is the most heavily scrutinized player in Ohio State history? Yes—I don't think it is even close.
Since coming out of high school as one of the most highly hyped prospects ever, thanks to his freakish height and speed, he has had his every movement analyzed by the fans and media.
Win, lose or draw, he seems to bring out a mixed bag of emotions, even from us in scarlet and gray.
This Saturday was another great example of his ability to be such a polarizing figure.
Pryor's animated attitude on the field and on the sidelines seemed to bring a lot of wrath from fans. The cameras showcased him being very upset about Jim Tressel's choice to kick the field goal on 4th-and-1 from the 1-yard line.
There were also a myriad of comments made throughout the Buckeye Twitterverse about Pryor not taking responsibility for the interception intended for Taurian Washington and his obvious frustration at the drop by DeVier Posey in the end zone.
If that wasn't already enough, Pryor is taking heat for his tweets after the game. Besides making some candid comments about those hating on his attitude, he also decided to call out Kirk Herbstreit for calling him out. Herbstreit seemed to have the same disdain for Pryor's emotion as many Buckeyes did and made a few critical comments. Pryor apparently had no use for this and called him a "fake Buckeye."
Quite the saga for a guy who led his team to a comeback victory and holds a 29-4 record overall as a starter.
So what are we supposed to think about all of this? Well, as for the Twitter comments, I have no problem with fans being a bit bothered. It does show that Pryor doesn't handle criticism the way a star athlete should and has some maturing still to do. Herbie's comments were neither out of line nor all that harsh, and Pryor can't just shoot off 140 characters worth of his opinion every time he gets scrutinized.
However, Buckeye fans need to realize that Twitter is a problem for athletes even in the professional ranks. Every other week there seems to be some headline about a player in the NFL or NBA saying something he shouldn't via the social media, most of which are much worse than anything Pryor tweeted. Yes, Pryor has to mature, but this is a problem that many athletes run into in today's culture.
Tweets aside, I have no problem with anything Pryor did on Saturday. The guy is passionate and competitive, and that is part of what makes him a good football player. I don't want a quarterback starting on my team that doesn't want the ball in his hands on 4th-and-1. I like some passion and emotion; I hate watching quarterbacks that need their pulse checked just to see if they are alive out there.
Frankly, I'm bothered that Buckeye fans are making such a big fuss out of this whole thing. Most guys can't even control their emotions watching the game from their couch at home, yet want to pick apart someone who is a bit animated in front of thousands of screaming fans on national television. Give me a break!
To me it's only an issue if it alters his play or turns his teammates away. Neither happened. In fact, that competitive spirit helped lead the Buckeyes back in the fourth quarter to steal a victory.
While Pryor had some sloppy moments and got little help from his receivers in some of the bigger moments, he still kept playing and scrambled to convert a 4th-and-10. It would end up being the play of the game, as a few plays later he would hit Dane Sanzenbacher on a 24-yard throw that set up the game-winning touchdown from Boom Herron.
Pryor was composed, and it never appeared that the moment was too big for him. While we all know his decision-making and mechanics need to continually get better, the guy willed the Buckeyes to victory when a lot of the playmakers around him weren't having their best night. Oh, and if you didn't see, after the game, his teammates were celebrating with him.
I realize that Pryor wasn't a great teammate or leader last year. Pryor knows it too. This year has been a totally different story, though. A great example of this was last week in his post-game interview with Erin Andrews. He didn't take the glory or talk about himself; instead he talked about how the win needed to be credited to Boom and the defense.
As for this week, I don't care that he was heated with Tressel or got after guys like J.B. Shugarts and Posey; leadership calls for that sometimes. The guy wants to win and wants to push those around him to accomplish that, and the fact that this team hasn't laid down against adversity once this year is a direct reflection of that attitude.
Does he have more maturing to do? Yes. Does he still have a way to go as a leader? Yes—everyone does. The young man loves Ohio State, though, and he loves his team. In fact, he says he is coming back for his senior season. That sure doesn't sounds like a self-absorbed guy to me!
I love his desire to win and his competitive nature, and before we go and try to make him more like Todd Boeckman in terms of demeanor, I think we need to remember what that attitude has accomplished the last three seasons.