Nation's Top Prospect Puts Off College Choice
Thursday, February 7, 2008
JEANNETTE, Pa., Feb. 6 -- The names of the Jeannette High School boys' basketball players are painted on colorful banners that hang on the gymnasium wall. Other signs read "Super Seniors" or "Jumpin' Juniors." One sign reads "Terrelle."
The banner, written in red block letters, served as perhaps the only reminder Wednesday that Terrelle Pryor is still just a high school student.
Pryor is the nation's top-rated football recruit -- who also moonlights as a standout basketball player -- and he drew about 50 reporters and photographers for what was supposed to be his signing-day announcement. Torn among his college choices, Ohio State, Michigan, Penn State and Oregon, Pryor held a news conference during which he essentially shrugged; instead of announcing his college plans, he has delayed his decision.
"Me and my dad had a little battle of differences," said Pryor, who this season became the only player in Pennsylvania history to run for more than 4,000 yards and pass for more than 4,000. "He had a different mind. I had a different mind. He just made me think. He just wants me to go over it and think twice."
Pryor appeared calm in gray sweatpants and white T-shirt, accompanied on a dais by his mother, Toni; his high school coach, Ray Reitz; and his mentor, Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Charlie Batch. He said he wanted to wait in order to take a closer look at Penn State and Oregon, two schools he has not officially visited because of scheduling conflicts with high school football and basketball season.
"I had my mind set [Tuesday] night where I was going to go," Pryor said. "But I was thinking twice because Penn State, they've been hitting hard. I just don't think I gave them a fair chance."
Pryor, his family and his high school coaches said there is no clear favorite, and there will be no timetable for his announcement.
Throughout, competition for Pryor has been keen. He has been compared to Tennessee Titans quarterback Vince Young because of his 6-foot-6 size, strong arm and uncanny mobility at a time when the spread offense is in vogue. And an interest in his decision has been piqued nationally. He has been on ESPN, has frequently updated a diary for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and has been in scores of YouTube highlight videos.
Pryor's decision not to announce was another twist to his recruitment, which has seen the regular addition and subtraction of schools. Before the decision to hold off from his announcement, Pryor was believed to be leaning toward either Ohio State or Michigan.
"They've been at the top of his list -- at the top or near the top -- for a while, Ohio State," said Rick Klimchock, a Jeannette guidance counselor and another of Pryor's mentors. "And Michigan, of course, with Rich Rodriguez has been big, too."
The recruiting struggle between the two rivals has provided an intriguing subplot.
"I think the battle between Michigan and Ohio State has been so hot because I think whichever team gets him will upset the balance of the Big Ten," said Tom Lemming, a CSTV recruiting analyst, in a telephone interview.
But his recruitment took yet another turn with Wednesday's non-decision.
"I have a lot of thinking to do," Pryor said.