Moment of the Year: Preps
Terrelle Pryor decided not to make a decision on National Signing Day
He eventually opted to run the spread offense for Ohio State over Michigan
Nine months before Election Day, Indecision 2008 came to Saturday's America shortly after noon last February 6 -- better known to recruitniks as National Signing Day.
Outside the Jeannette (Pa.) High gymnasium, nine television satellite trucks crowded the parking lot. Inside on the hardwood court where Jayhawks senior Terrelle Pryor spearheaded a state title run, 100 seats were spread out for media members awaiting word of where he would play college football. Hyped as the LeBron James of the gridiron, what with his top-flight quarterback skills and overwhelming athleticism, the 6-foot-5, 225-pound dual threat called an audible at the podium. "I'm just not ready to announce yet," said Pryor, who was considering Michigan, Ohio State, Oregon and Penn State.
In pulling the delay draw, Pryor continued the trend of top prospects prolonging the process. Afforded the most national attention since James was a developing manchild in Akron, Ohio, Pryor clearly enjoyed being courted by the millionaire collegiate coaches. There he was in mid-January, sizing his hand up against that of Michigan coach Rich Rodriguez while sitting courtside at a Wolverines basketball game. Two weeks earlier, Rodriguez had informed Pryor of his job change from West Virginia before he met with the Mountaineers for the final time. Both Rodriguez and sweater-vested Buckeyes coach Jim Tressel attended a basketball game at Jeannette, and Nittany Lions defensive coordinator Tom Bradley learned how many licks it takes at the local creamery to finish in third place. "They visited my dad's house so many times it's unbelievable," Pryor said. "Tom Bradley knows the town probably the same as my dad. My dad is, like, in love with him."
Alerted the night before by a Rivals.com report that the prodigy may not announce a decision, recruiting sites still flocked to the small Keystone State burg knowing there was a possibility that he would not commit. As a senior, Pryor rushed for 1,899 yards and 33 touchdowns and passed for 1,889 yards and 23 touchdowns in leading Jeannette to a 16-0 record and the Class AA football crown. His greatest escape was from the press conference, though, as he was ushered out of the gym and back to class, leaving grown men to wonder if their efforts to land him were enough and when the precocious teen would either accept of reject their entreaties.
In the end, it was the Buckeyes, who many suspected had the inside track for some time, that emerged with Pryor's National Letter of Intent. All he had to do was dot the I to put an end to his long-running drama series.