Pryor More Relaxed After Hearing from LeBron, Miami QB
By Brandon Castel
When it comes to big names in Columbus, Terrelle Pryor is as oversized as anyone not wearing a Sweater Vest.
But there was an even bigger figure on campus Wednesday, one that eclipses even Jim Tressel, as LeBron James and his Cleveland Cavaliers took on the Boston Celtics in a preseason game at Value City Arena.
James never played at Ohio State – although he claims there’s nowhere else he would have gone – but as the biggest sports figure maybe in the history of the state, LeBron is one of the few people in a position to mentor Pryor on what it’s like dealing with astonishing hype and excessive expectations.
“If any of us were the quarterback at Ohio State, and you've got all these people around you, you're sort of like a superstar. And you start maybe thinking too much of yourself and losing your head a little bit and losing focus,” said Pryor, who came to the Buckeyes as the most highly-touted prospect of the decade.
With all the negativity swirling after Pryor’s four-turnover performance against Purdue, the sophomore quarterback has sought some better council in recent days, including the King himself.
“I’ve been talking with LeBron a little bit. He’s a big mentor to me. I love him like a big brother and he keeps me cool and keeps me calm a little bit whenever he can get away.”
But even LeBron doesn’t know exactly what Pryor is going through right now, considering he managed to live up to his seemingly insurmountable hype right away in the NBA. For that, Pryor has turned to another athlete, one that better understands the plight of a young college quarterback.
“Me and Jacory Harris, the quarterback down at Miami, we talk a lot,” Pryor said.
Harris and Pryor were both top-10 quarterbacks in the class of 2008 (Pryor ranked No. 1 and Harris No. 7 according to Rivals.com) but it was his friendship with another member of Miami’s recruiting class, one ranked even higher than Harris, that led to the relationship between the two sophomore quarterbacks.
“Marcus Forston, he played at the (U.S. Army) All-American game, and we keep in contact at least two times a week,” Pryor said of Miami’s second-year defensive tackle.
“Jacory found out we were friends and he got on the phone and we started talking and stuff. We got each other’s numbers and we text back and forth just to inspire each other.”
What Harris told him after the Purdue loss was nothing the new. In fact it was something his coaches have been telling him since he got to Ohio State, but somehow it just meant more coming from a player who had a similar experience in the first half of a big game two weeks earlier.
“He was forcing stuff a lot when they played against Oklahoma and said, ‘Man you were doing the same thing I was doing but I just started calming myself down and taking what they give me because sooner or later that big play is going to come.’”
Pryor also said he has spoken with Notre Dame quarterback Jimmy Clausen, but one of the most important calls he got this week came from an unlikely member of Ohio State’s coaching staff.
“Coach (Luke) Fickell told me just to relax,” Pryor said of OSU’s co-defensive coordinator and linebackers coach.
“He said, ‘If I was coaching against you, it would be hard to design stuff against you. He said just play your game. I feel so relaxed to hear that and then some of my teammates are backing me up.”
Despite the show of support from teammates like DeVier Posey and coaches like Fickell and wide receivers coach Darrell Hazell, who also called to check on Pryor this week, he knows the only real way to get the fans behind him it to perform on the field.
“It’s just something that comes to the territory and I’m fine with it. It’s up to me to step up and start playing like I’m supposed to. I just started to relax this week and I’m just feeling real relaxed and I’m excited to be a Buckeye,” Pryor said with a smile.
“Throwing interceptions, that’s just not me…(From now on) I am just taking what they give me. It is going to lead to big plays and make some drives and get this thing exciting again. I just want the fans to be happy because I love Columbus, and I love all the fans.”
Even quarterbacks coach Nick Siciliano has noticed a difference in his young apprentice this week.
“A kid that comes in here that highly recruited and with that many expectations, sometimes the bricks keep piling up on the shoulders and it takes something to get them off. It seems like the bricks are off the shoulders right now and he has been more relaxed,” he said.
“The only way you usually grow is by learning hard lessons.”
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