June 23, 2010

Former greats talk Pryor, Heisman

COLUMBUS, Ohio - If there is a list projecting which current players in college football could be in New York for the Heisman Trophy presentation next season, Ohio State quarterback Terrelle Pryor is probably on it.

After all, Pryor is one of the favorites to have a big enough season that could land him a trip to New York City and eventually the most prestigious award in the sport.

But Tuesday Pryor got some reaffirmation from some people who know exactly what it takes to win a Heisman Trophy and cement a legacy in college football.

Pryor became the topic of a few different conversations Tuesday morning when all four living Heisman Trophy recipients of Ohio State commented on the junior's ability to step over into that prestigious fraternity.

"I think Terrelle Pryor definitely has a chance if he has gotten better in the off-season and if he can use the Rose Bowl performance as a catapult into this year and use it as momentum for this year," said former running back Eddie George, who won the Heisman in the 1995 season. "I think he has a great chance of possibly winning the Heisman Trophy."

Pryor didn't necessarily have a dominant season last year, showing glimpses of greatness one moment before making a critical error in the next.

During some of those down moments last year Pryor cited an over-eagerness to make big plays and having his head in the wrong places. Unlike most youngsters his age, Pryor took full responsibility for his issues. And perhaps what's more impressive is the fact that he made short order of the issue, and fixed it.

Speaking specifically about the Purdue game in which Pryor turned it over four times on his own - which was the main reason the Buckeyes lost the game - the quarterback later vowed to be more patient and careful with the football.

As a result, Pryor only threw two more interceptions for the remainder of the season and led the Buckeyes to a 5-0 run to end the season, leading to a Big Ten Championship and a Rose Bowl victory.

But it was in the Rose Bowl where Pryor seemed to make the biggest jump. In the Rose Bowl win over Oregon Pryor threw for 266 yards and two touchdowns before being named the game's MVP, showing exactly what it was to be an efficient, explosive dual-threat quarterback.

It is this alone that makes people feel Pryor could have a chance to find himself in New York after this season.

"I hope he isn't worried about it all," said former running back Archie Griffin, who is the only two-time recipient of the Heisman Trophy. "I hope what Terrelle is worried about is playing the best football he could possibly play and if he does that everything else will just fall into place.

"He can't go into the season worried about the Heisman Trophy or the awards that he is going to receive or if he is going to receive awards. All he needs to worry about are the things that he has control over, and that is his play, his attitude, his conditioning, and the way he goes out on the field and leads the team."

Pryor is widely expected to be in the mix for the trophy come the end of the regular season because he leads an Ohio State squad that is expected to be in the national championship hunt.

Widely looked at as one of the most exciting and explosive players in the country, Pryor could be in the position to lead the Buckeyes to an undefeated season while posting some outstanding numbers.

Of course, Ohio State head coach Jim Tressel feels as if Pryor has what it takes, but is more concerned with his junior quarterback staying on task and focusing on the important things.

"This is the second half of Terrelle's career," Tressel said Tuesday. "We've talked a lot about that, as a matter of fact, going into the Rose Bowl we told him he was one day from the second half of his career. I thought he took good advantage of the last day of the first half.

If you're having great team success, those kind of things happen," Tressel continued. "(The previous Heisman winners) were on great teams, so if we can be a great team and maybe we can have five living Heisman Trophy (living) winners."

Ari Wasserman is a staff writer for BuckeyeGrove.com. He can be reached at [email protected].

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