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Terrelle Pryor's Lost Year, And Why He Should Just Enter The 2011 NFL Draft

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Terrelle Pryor's never really appealed to me as a college football player, and that is most likely because he was toasted with overexposure from the moment he took the stage as a freshman at Ohio State. Pryor's signing drama was the costume drama of 2008, and with good reason: the tall, cannon-armed but still mobile quarterback was the prototypical college signal-caller, capable of breaking defensive schemes with his speed, size, arm strength, avowed football IQ, and any other positive you'd care to tag him with in the positive sense. Attention was not lacking, and neither was a galling amount of talent.

Pryor would eventually postpone his signing until well past National Signing Day, creating additional theater before he ever slapped a Buckeye decal on his helmet. He has, in his three years, developed into an excellent Ohio State quarterback, i.e. playing with Tressel's conservative offense but still managing to put up numbers with a respectable Troy Smith-ish range. He'll probably be remembered on a level just below Smith's penthouse level in terms of the Buckeye quarterback pantheon.

(To clarify via comparison: the Terrelle Pryor Luxury 2 BR/2 BA Condo in the Buckeye Pantheon certainly beats the hell out of the Art Schlichter Utility Closet. It's lofty, and certainly top-tier. It is not top floor.)

So now with Pryor being suspended for the first five games of next season, the question is why Pryor would come back to Columbus at all. Certain things should not be lost in this conversation. Pryor has been very successful as a quarterback. Ohio State has won three Big Ten titles in his time on campus. He's really, really good. I'll repeat that as many times as necessary. 

He's also been under a particularly intense spotlight in Columbus since before he arrived, and has at times chafed at the expectations that have dogged him at Ohio State. He made an ill-advised tribute to Mike Vick on his eyeblack in 2009. He frequently urged Jim Tressel to change his offense to accommodate his running skills. (This is probably a good idea, and will happen when Jim Tressel purchases his first pair of skinny jeans, i.e. never.) He has, in short, never seemed fully happy at Ohio State despite public avowals to the contrary, and likewise the Ohio State fanbase has never seemed to fully embrace Pryor. 

There is a chicken-and-egg question at the root of Pryor's lukewarm relationship with Ohio State, team-themed tattoos and tweets aside, but that's for Pryor to figure out. Pryor could likely get drafted if he declared for the NFL. He won't get a first round pick, as he allegedly thinks he will, but he will get drafted. In related news, name the quarterback who doesn't think he is a first round draft pick and we will show you a dog who despite years of no table scraps still believes they have a T-bone coming their way.

The question is whether another year in college will benefit Pryor in terms of anything but the most academic of draft terms. His production, already put under a natural governor by the system he plays in, will be shortened by five games due to the suspension. His time watching the team play without him will be awkward for everyone concerned. His value added will come in the form of additional physical growth and reps, something he can work on with no limitations in a pro environment. 

Terrelle Pryor's departure now would be awkward, certainly. It also wouldn't be inappropriate. If anything, a finale in the Sugar Bowl and abrupt farewell before a late round exit in the NFL Draft would be apt for a player who has been good but slightly at odds with his surroundings from the start, signing late, leaving early, and leaving a mostly satisfying legacy with just a hint of bitter aftertaste.