Pryor not ready to sign letter of intent

Updated: February 7, 2008, 1:53 AM ET
Associated Press

JEANNETTE, Pa. -- Terrelle Pryor's decision -- or, actually, non-decision -- gives Penn State coach Joe Paterno and Oregon coach Mike Bellotti a second chance. Michigan coach Rich Rodriguez gets a reprieve, if only a temporary one.

Ohio State coach Jim Tressel, who expected a firm Pryor commitment on Wednesday? He is getting a lot more nervous.

Pryor, the Pittsburgh-area quarterback who is considered the nation's top unsigned high school football recruit, backed off his apparent choice of Ohio State on signing day and said he needs more time to make up his mind.

Pryor's self-imposed delay means Oregon and home state Penn State are back in the race after the multi-sport star apparently had narrowed his choices to Ohio State and Michigan. On Tuesday night, Pryor felt comfortable with Ohio State, only to change his mind after waking up Wednesday.

"I had my mind set last night that I was going to go ... but Penn State is hitting me hard and I don't think I gave them a fair chance and I want to take a visit there," Pryor said. "Just check out their campus. Just give him [coach Joe Paterno] a chance, he's a great guy. I just think I should go there [to visit]."

The groans from Columbus could almost be heard a state away in Jeannette, where Pryor's image appears on a billboard at the edge of the town of 10,000 and his every move is watched with great interest.

"He hasn't had time to make an informed, intelligent decision," Jeannette coach Ray Reitz said. "Right now, waiting is the best decision for him in the long run."

Pryor's other career is complicating matters. He is one of the Pennsylvania's best high school basketball players, and Jeannette is about to begin tournament play. With most tournament games on the weekends, it could be difficult for Pryor to quickly schedule his Penn State and Oregon visits.

"We played 16 football games, won the state championship (in mid-December) and two days later we jumped into basketball," Pryor said. "I haven't had that much time to get involved in the recruiting process. I'd like to take more time and be fair to all the coaches that recruited me, who spent a lot of time recruiting me."

Another issue: Pryor's father, Craig, has received numerous visits from Penn State coaches and apparently wants his son to play there.

"Me and my dad had a battle of differences," said Pryor, the only Pennsylvania player to rush for more than 4,000 yards and pass for 4,000 in his career. "They've been hitting my father hard. They been to my dad's house so many times. My dad's in love with them. [Penn State assistant] Tom Bradley probably knows the town more than he does."

Pryor's decision to wait is uncommon, as most top players have long since committed by signing day, but he doesn't have to sign with any school until April 1. Steelers quarterback Charlie Batch, a family friend who was asked by Pryor to give him advice, doesn't think he will need that long.

"This is the decision he has to live with the next four years," Batch said. "I told him, `Don't make the decision under pressure.' "

Pryor has the speed, size and the athletic ability to be a Vince Young-type quarterback in college, and he is rated as the nation's No. 1 player by Scouts.com and Rivals.com. He was the MVP last month in the U.S. Army All-American game in San Antonio. But there are questions about his arm strength and the quality of his opponents in the second smallest of Pennsylvania's four classes.

The other notable quarterbacks to emerge from the Pittsburgh area over the years -- Dan Marino, Johnny Unitas, Joe Montana among them -- all played against stronger competition at the time.

"To me, he's a glamour guy who's overrated," said Bill Urbanik, a longtime NFL and college assistant who does player analysis for Takkle.com. "He'll be good but not great. He's a power forward, but now you want him to play point guard. I've seen too many big guys fail at quarterback."

Urbanik, who grew up in Donora, Pa., near Jeannette, also said, "Put him in Texas or California and he'd be pretty good, but not No. 1 in the country. There, they all can run like he can run, and they'll catch him. He doesn't have great quickness."

Urbanik's service ranks Pryor No. 16, the lowest such ranking by any of the major services.

"If he's at the Heisman Trophy presentation in four years, you'll know I was wrong," Urbanik said.


Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press

ALSO SEE