Ohio State quarterback Terrelle Pryor will not return for his senior season in Columbus, and will pursue a possible career in professional football as early as this season according to multiple reports.
"In the best interest of my teammates, I have decided to forgo my senior year of football at the Ohio State University," Pryor's lawyer Larry James said, reading a statement on behalf of his client, according to a report by The Plain Dealer. Pryor is reported to have been weighing on this decision for the past few days.
Pryor was recently connected to possible violations at Ohio State related to used cars he had been spotted driving around campus, as well as an NCAA investigation regarding the selling of memorabilia for cash, a violation that was covered up by former Buckeyes coach Jim Tressel. Tressel, who hid the information from Ohio State's compliance office, athletics director Gene Smith, president Gordon Gee and the NCAA, resigned from his position last week. Pryor was to serve a five-game suspension to start the 2011 season but was allowed to play in Ohio State's Sugar Bowl victory over Alabama.
"We've talked about the emotional roller coaster that he is going through," James told The Plain Dealer, "and even if he was cleared 100 percent it was going to be difficult."
Pryor's playing days at the college level may not be 100% percent complete yet. With one year of eligibility remaining under NCAA rules Pryor could play one more season at the college level. If he wants to play this season, following his mandated suspension, he would need to transfer to an FCS, Division II or Division III program. Otherwise he would have to sit out the entire season in 2011 and return in 2012 somewhere else.
Pryor's joining the NFL has been floating around as a possibility by fans and some media types, although it is unclear where he would fit in the league. Pryor could pursue an entry in to a supplemental draft by the NFL, but the current labor issue in the league between the owners and players’ association currently have put ice on that possibility. Pryor could still be signed through free agency by the NFL, once the labor issue is settled, or he could be picked up in another league such as the UFL, Canadian Football League or the Arena Football League. The UFL and CFL are currently in the off-season and the AFL is already well underway.
If his college days are behind him for good, Pryor will leave with a pair of BCS championships, a 3-0 record against Michigan, and a share of three consecutive Big Ten championships. He leaves Ohio State with 6,177 passing yards, 57 touchdowns (26 interceptions) and a 60.9 completion percentage. Pryor has rushed for 2,164 yards and 17 touchdowns and added a pair of receiving touchdowns.
Pryor was heavily recruited out of Jeanette, Pennsylvania by Ohio State, Michigan and Penn State and was hyped as a player that would win a Heisman and lead the Buckeyes to a national championship. Those lofty expectations never quite developed as his passing mechanics were scrutinized and critiqued time and time again.