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College

Jeannette's Pryor leaves Ohio State

| Wednesday, June 8, 2011

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Terrelle Pryor's career at Ohio State, which started with so much promise and potential, came to an abrupt and scandal-ridden end.

The former Jeannette standout quarterback announced through his attorney Tuesday that he would not play for the Buckeyes this season. He had been suspended for the first five games for breaking NCAA rules by accepting improper benefits from the owner of a tattoo parlor.

"In the best interests of my teammates, I've made the decision to forgo my senior year of football at The Ohio State University," Pryor said in a statement issued by Columbus lawyer Larry James.

Pryor likely will make himself available for an NFL supplemental draft.

"I would hope so. Also, he would hope so," said James, who added that Pryor was not available for comment. "But he's going to take the next couple of days to get his head together."

The NCAA is looking into all aspects of Ohio State's once-glittering program, from cash and tattoos to players, cars deals for athletes -- Pryor is being investigated -- and other potential violations.

Pryor's announcement comes eight days after Jim Tressel was forced to resign as Buckeyes coach for knowing about the players' improper benefits but not telling his superiors.

"He did not want to be a distraction to his teammates," James said of Pryor. "This is something he came to consider after much thought."

Pryor's father, Craig, told the Tribune-Review last week that his son "never mentioned" entering the supplemental draft, despite the turmoil he found himself in.

"Getting the education is too important," said the elder Pryor, who did not return phone messages last night.

Terrelle Pryor's guardian, Willie Burns, also did not return phone messages.

Ray Reitz, who coached Pryor at Jeannette, told ESPN that his former quarterback's move to leave Ohio State would be "probably best for everybody."

"Terrelle can get out of the spotlight and just play football," he said. "The sad part is, as a player, he was tremendous. It's just that all this will be a part of his legacy. It's a shame. I hope he gets a shot at quarterback in the NFL so he can prove people wrong. I think NFL teams want to win so I don't think they'll hold this too much against him."

Pryor came to Ohio State on March 19, 2007, from Jeannette as the most acclaimed high school quarterback prospect in the country. His career will be remembered in his adoptive home state for his three victories in as many tries against archrival Michigan, and victories in the Rose and Sugar Bowl.

But it will also be remembered for a series of missteps and controversies that seemed to follow the 6-foot-6, 233-pound physical specimen wherever he went.

On the field, Pryor had a 31-4 record as a starter (starting one bowl game as a wide receiver), rushed for 2,164 yards -- an Ohio State record for a quarterback -- and passed for 6,177 yards.

But there were other moments that kept him from becoming a fan favorite.

He wore "Vick" on an eyeblack patch in honor of Michael Vick in 2009, after the NFL quarterback had been involved in a dogfighting operation. Pryor then infuriated many by saying, "Not everybody's the perfect person in the world. I mean, everyone kills people, murders people, steals from you, steals from me, whatever. I think that people need a second chance."

After Wisconsin beat the Buckeyes in October, handing them their only loss last season, Pryor petulantly said that Ohio State could beat the Badgers nine out of 10 times.

He also has called former Ohio State quarterback and current ESPN college football analyst Kirk Herbstreit "a fake Buckeye" for questioning Pryor's emotional sideline behavior.

Few NFL draft experts consider Pryor to be a ready-for-the-NFL quarterback.

Pryor's unorthodox throwing motion looks forced, and he makes questionable decisions and is an erratic passer, Pro Football Weekly draft expert Nolan Nawrocki told the Trib.

Pryor's best position in the NFL may be as receiver or tight end, Nawrocki said.

James said Pryor was reflective when he made the decision to quit college football.

"You know how sometimes you have the weight of the world on your shoulders and then something like this takes a little bit off,' James said. "He's still only 21."

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