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Jeannette fans watch Pryor in first start as Raiders' quarterback

| Wednesday, Jan. 9, 2013, 9:48 p.m.
Several dozen Jeannette residents, friends and family of Terrelle Pryor held a viewing party to watch his NFL debut as starting quarterback of the Oakland Raiders.
John Howard | The Jeannette Spirit
Several dozen Jeannette residents, friends and family of Terrelle Pryor held a viewing party to watch his NFL debut as starting quarterback of the Oakland Raiders. John Howard | The Jeannette Spirit

When it came time for Terrelle Pryor to make his National Football League debut, his Jeannette friends, family and fans in Jeannette turned out to watch him play.

Somewhere between 70 and 100 Jeannette residents packed a local restaurant to watch Pryor's first official start.

During the final game of the regular season for the Oakland Raiders, the former Jeannette Jayhawk and Ohio State University quarterback took to the field and contributed by completing 13 of 28 passes for 150 yards and two touchdowns, and he ran nine times for 49 yards and a rushing touchdown. The Raiders lost 24-21 to the San Diego Chargers.

While in Jeannette, Pryor was ranked as number one in the country prior to being picked up by Ohio State after his 2008 high school graduation. In 2011, Pryor was selected in the third round of a supplemental draft by the Raiders.

According to Pryor, he was content sitting out his first year in the NFL because there was so much to learn. His first opportunity to start came at the end of this Raiders season. Pryor said he prepared for this opportunity by staying in shape, by being one of the first to arrive at training everyday and one of the last to leave. He spent the entire week prior to the game by studying the game tapes of his own team and the San Diego Chargers.

Pryor said throughout his career, beginning with the Jeannette Midgets program, through high school, college and the NFL he has made learning and training his number-one priority. The Raiders/Chargers game was no exception. He eliminated all unnecessary activity the week before the game to make himself mentally and physically at his peak to be prepared to play at his best.

Pryor said much prayer and his fans' support have been a great inspiration to uplift him. Before the game on Dec. 30, he received support from all over. Former and current NFL players, including his cousin Charlie Batch from the Pittsburgh Steelers called to encourage him.

A group of several dozen local Jeannette fans gathered at a local restaurant to cheer on their native son in his starting debut. When Pryor heard about the group's viewing party, he said he was very thankful and that he had felt the support all the way in California.

Pryor said his connection with his teammates also boosted his enthusiasm. The Raiders lost the game, but Pryor's had much success passing and rushing. During almost every break Pryor comes back home to Jeannette to be with his family and friends. He shows up at many Jeannette Jayhawk football and basketball games when he's home.

Pryor plans to unite with the Jeannette Midget Athletic Association to start programs that will help enhance the youth of Jeannette and surrounding communities to become better, not only on the football field, but in the classroom at home and in their communities. Pryor attributes an important part of his success to the Jeannette Midget Program, where he got his start. Pryor's objective will be to prepare the players for life.

John Howard is a freelance photographer.

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