The perfect recruiting storm
Pryor announcement to be most anticipated in history
Posted: Tuesday February 5, 2008 12:18PM; Updated: Wednesday February 6, 2008 5:27PM
What do you suppose it was like to be inside the tiny gymnasium at Jeannette (Pa.) High last Saturday night?
As a small-town Pennsylvania high school basketball game between Jeannette and East Alleghany played out on the court, most eyes were presumably scanning the stands, where on one side sat Ohio State football coach Jim Tressel and five of his assistants, on the other, newly anointed Michigan coach Rich Rodriguez and three of his assistants.
At halftime, Tressel and Rodriguez -- the head coaches of arguably the fiercest rivals in all of college football -- greeted each other behind the bleachers. No word whether the opposing staffs met in the parking lot afterward and staged a Beat It-style face-off.
The coaches weren't there for the basketball, obviously. They were there for a quarterback.
Not just any quarterback, mind you, but the most heavily scrutinized, fawned-after high school quarterback in the long history of scrutinized, fawned-after quarterbacks: Terrelle Pryor.
As nationwide interest in recruiting has grown exponentially over the past decade, the one time behind-the-scenes decisions of blue-chip prospects have become fodder for daily, if not hourly coverage on the Internet. Web sites like Rivals.com and Scout.com have helped turn a new generation of recruits into household names among the increasingly growing niche of recruiting junkies.
But much like LeBron James did in basketball as a high-school senior, Pryor, the 6-foot-6, 235-pound quarterback with the cannon arm and 4.4 speed, has already transcended the recruiting world. The Pittsburgh papers write about him nearly as if he played for the Steelers. The New York Times and Detroit Free Press sent reporters to his basketball games last weekend and his name has appeared in more than 35 stories on this Web site.
Pryor has become a household name, even though most people have never seen him play, and his expected decision Wednesday will unquestionably be the most anticipated signing day announcement in history -- that is, if it happens. Pryor told Rivals.com analyst Mike Farrell late Tuesday night that he'd changed his mind about signing Wednesday and now wants to take an official visit to Penn State. Pryor has been widely expected to choose between Ohio State and Michigan, but Pryor told Farrell that his father wants him to "give [Penn State] another look."
So how did this happen? How did the recruitment of Pryor become such a national phenomenon? Call it a perfect storm of colliding forces, many of them unique to this particular point in the college landscape.
Start with the player himself. While hyperbole is the norm when it comes to recruiting, rarely has there been such a consensus about a player's ability to not only play, but dominate at the next level.
"I believe the team that gets him will win a national championship during his time there," said Rivals.com analyst Farrell. "He's that much of a difference-maker."
"He looked fantastic in the [U.S. Army] All-American Game," said SuperPrep publisher Allen Wallace. "Assuming he can grasp the offense, he can move in and do Dennis Dixon-type things for a team."