Tyler Joswick / Asst.photo editor
It’s no secret that quarterback Terrelle Pryor has his shortcomings, but it’s also no coincidence that the recruitment of the most polarizing player in the history of OSU football coincided with the boom of a little social networking site named Facebook.
In 2007, as word spread that the Buckeyes were in the running for the successful recruitment of the top high school quarterback in the country, Facebook groups began spreading, too, like one called “Bring Terrelle Pryor, The #1 QB in the Country to The Ohio State University.”
The group contained at least 6,000 members at one point, and it wasn’t the lone page on Facebook that served as a shrine to the 18-year-old from Jeanette, Pa. Facebook pages encouraging Pryor to attend Michigan, Texas, Penn State, Pittsburgh, Oregon and Florida popped up as the schools’ recruitment of Pryor heated up.
Would you be able to keep your ego in check if 10,000-plus people asking you to come to their respective school were available with a click of the mouse?
The cyber-love for Pryor wasn’t limited to his recruitment. After Pryor’s arrival at OSU in the summer of 2008, multiple Facebook groups popped up supporting the benching of senior quarterback Todd Boeckman in favor of Pryor. Once that wish became a reality in the fourth week of the 2008 season, several “Pryor for Heisman” groups were created.
As of right now, there are eight fan pages dedicated to Pryor on Facebook, which combined have received about 6,700 “likes” from users. Two pages dedicated to Pryor’s trademark stiff-arm have received more than 200 “likes.”
And then there’s Twitter.
Putting players on a pedestal is nothing new in football-crazed Columbus, but never before have we had the access to the city’s biggest celebrities that we’ve had in the Twitter era. Every day, hundreds of fans of all ages, backgrounds and walks of life beg Pryor to retweet them. I know this because Pryor usually obliges.
In doing so, Pryor is acknowledging that he’s aware of the support that he’s receiving from his nearly 40,000 Twitter followers. Sure, there are those who follow the OSU quarterback for the unintentional comedy or to add fuel to their fire against the Buckeyes, but do a quick search of @TPeezy2 on Twitter, and you’ll see that the love far outweighs the hate for Pryor.
Twitter is a double-edged sword, however. Just as the website gives fans the opportunity to shower the quarterback with praise, it also gives Pryor the opportunity to speak his mind. And that’s not always a good thing.
Pryor has used his favorite social networking tool to speak out against abortion, to call former OSU quarterback and ESPN analyst Kirk Herbstreit a “fake Buckeye,” to contemplate retiring from football after not being named to an All-Big Ten postseason team and to assure the world that he paid for his tattoos, a day before being suspended for the first five games of 2011 for other NCAA violations.
Pryor’s tweets have been the basis of the criticism that he’s received from the media and fans alike, who refer to Pryor’s 140-character-or-fewer thoughts as an “embarrassment” to the university.
But do you really think that Pryor’s the first (or only) Buckeye to have a pro-choice or pro-life opinion? Do you think that Herbstreit’s comments that he wouldn’t let his college-aged son play for Jim Tressel went unnoticed by the 2004 Buckeyes? Do you think that former Buckeye receiver Santonio Holmes, who, at 26, told a fan to “kill himself” before proclaiming that it was time to “wake and bake,” would have been any more responsible with a Twitter account as an 18-year-old at OSU?
Pryor’s sentiments and views on life aren’t anything new, but their availability is. And they’re a product of a monster that we helped create.