Who is the favorite to win the Heisman Trophy this year? Who is the man garnering all the accolades in publications such as Sports Illustrated, ESPN The Magazine, and USA Today? Who is the leader of a team expected to have a great shot at capturing the National Championship and bringing back national respect to the once proud Big Ten?
Who is, Terrelle Pryor, Mr. Trebek.
Well the journey for the 21-year-old phenom began in a little place called Jeannette, Pennsylvania. The kid took the whole state by storm with his amazing football and basketball prowess. It was the beginning of an astonishing roller coaster that could only occur in this day and age of amazing social media and unlimited sports coverage. Ironically, Pryor originally committed to play basketball at Pittsburgh under Jamie Dixon. Yes, the kid had his choice of pretty much any school in the country for basketball as well. But eventually, it was known that Pryor would be playing football at the next level. And he still hoped to be able to do basketball as well. The lucky schools that made his Final Four list were Michigan, Oregon, Penn State, and Ohio State. By the February 6th signing day of his senior year, he was still not ready to sign, and made the country wait for the “Decision” before “The Decision (Lebron).” On March 19th, of 2008, he signed to take his talents to the Horseshoe, the house of Jim Tressel.
Since March of 2008, I cannot remember a College Football player in my lifetime have higher expectations placed on his shoulders. People were already clamoring for the Buckeyes to bring home multiple National Titles during Terrelle’s “stay” in Columbus. I mean nobody expected Pryor to stay a Buckeye the full 4 years, and figured he would be the number 1 pick in the NFL Draft following his junior year. And frankly, that expectation remains the same as he gets ready to take place under center for his junior season.
The amazing thing to me is. This kid has been criticized more than any player in the country over the past couple of years. He has been called a underachiever. A guy who was blinded by the hype. A man who could not play quarterback at a big time program. Fans clamored for a position change for the kid. Fans said that either him or Tressel had to go. Things came to a fevered climax following the Buckeyes embarrassing loss to lowly Purdue in the 7th game of the season last year. Pryor had appeared to have gotten worse over the course of his time in Buckeye Nation. He needed a pep talk from Brutus the Buckeye. And I will admit, after watching the kid play multiple times, I did not know if he could ever be a pro style quarterback or lead the Buckeyes to a National Championship.
Tressel kept Pryor under center. And little by little fans began to regain confidence in the kid. He really did not put on any big time performances. Sure he played a solid game at Penn State, but no games where he lit up the stat sheet. The Buckeyes still managed to win a 5th straight Big Ten title and were on the prowl for their first BCS Bowl victory in some time. Pryor finally answered the cynics, putting on arguably the best performance of his College career and helped lead the Bucks to a Rose Bowl victory over Oregon.
Want to know what Terrelle’s stats were last year? He had a 56.5% completion percentage, while tossing for 2,087 yards. Also he had 18 TDs versus 11 INTs. Want to know what Greg McElroy’s (Alabama’s returning senior QB) stats were? He threw for 2,508 yards, with 17 TDs and 4 INTs. He had a completion percentage of 60.9%. How about Kellen Moore (Boise State’s returning QB)? Moore tossed for 3,536 yards with 39 TDs and 3 INTs. Also he had a 64.3% completion percentage. Lastly, how about Case Keenum, the returning starting quarterback at Houston? The kid threw for an outrageous 5,671 yards, with 44 TDs and 15 INTs. His completion percentage was 70.3%. And these are all just QBs returning on teams that were ranked highly last year.
So as you can tell, comparing Pryor’s stats to returning QBs does not make the kid stand out by any means. Sure he is more of a dual threat than any of these guys, and rushed for way more yards than all of them combined. But there is something about this kid. There is something about this Terrelle guy that has made him stand out to people for years now.
It is not arrogance or a sense of entitlement. Just an air of confidence about him that is unquestioned. Maybe the best way to describe it would be “swagger.” Whatever it is, he has made believers out of the country.
So I am honestly not sure why many are billing him as the favorite to bring home the Heisman. But I will admit, I am sold as a believer on this guy.
And it is still an enigma to me why.
Stay tuned for the next edition of TheSportsKraze.