It wasn’t so long ago that the fans of the Buckeyes were singing Terrelle Pryor’s praises.
Coming off seasons in which he led Ohio State to victories in the 2010 Rose Bowl against Oregon and in the 2011 Sugar Bowl (vacated by the NCAA) against Arkansas, the former star quarterback was the toast of Columbus.
Almost as quickly as Pryor rose to fame, he was seemingly banished to the Buckeyes’ doghouse for the foreseeable future. The violations that Pryor and others on the team committed are well documented, as is the fallout that the Buckeye faithful were put through.
Years later, he’s still searching for redemption in the NFL.
Life after OSU is proving to be more difficult than most — even Pryor — had expected. His skill set has not translated over all that well, and his athleticism, which he’s relied upon throughout his career, has barely kept him afloat in the professional ranks.
Pryor has shown flashes here and there during his five-year career, but he’s been far too inconsistent as a passer to make it as a starting signal caller. Since spending his first three seasons with the Oakland Raiders, the team that took a chance on him in the 2011 supplemental draft, Pryor has bounced around the league on a number of different teams.
Earlier this summer, on June 22, the talent-stricken Cleveland Browns decided to take a shot on him. It was only four days prior to his signing that Pryor announced he would be converting from quarterback to wide receiver.
It was an ideal switch for the 6-foot-4, 223-pound Pryor, as his size and supreme athletic ability give him a distinct advantage over opposing defenders, an aspect of his personal game that hasn’t changed a bit since his college days.
A challenging training camp ensued, one that saw Pryor experience his fair share of ups and downs, particularly a nagging hamstring injury that slowed him quite a bit for most of August. When it was all said and done, though, Pryor found himself a spot on the official 53-man roster heading into the Browns’ season opener.
Despite the troublesome injury, Browns coach Mike Pettine said he still saw great potential in Pryor to be a real threat in Cleveland’s offense.
“It was something we’ve talked about in here at length that it was — I think the phrase ‘leap of faith’ was used, and I agree with that,” Pettine said on Sept. 7 via the Browns’ official website. “That spot is largely because of his potential, but as the season goes on, I mean it’s sooner than later that that’s going to have to translate, that he’s going to have to be a productive member of this team,” Pettine said.
Pryor was never given the opportunity to be that “productive member of the team” in meaningful action, as he was released yet again on Sept. 10 to make room for newly signed running back Robert Turbin. It’s possible the Browns could re-sign Pryor just as seamlessly as they cut him, but that remains to be seen.
If a team does ever decide to put their full faith in him as a receiver, it’d certainly be worth the roster spot. At 26 years of age, the versatile Pryor can be used in a number of different ways based on the athletic capabilities he brings to the table. It’s something that he recognizes all too well.
“I really think at the end of the day, an athlete’s going to be an athlete, period,” Pryor said after practice on Wednesday via the Browns’ website. “So if you’re athletic and you’re an athlete, with the right coaching, which I have — I have great coaches in this building, great teammates — you should be able to convert and convert pretty easy.”
Pryor might not be able to execute flashy spin moves like OSU’s own recently quarterback-converted-receiver Braxton Miller notably did in the Buckeyes’ 42-24 Week 1 victory over Virginia Tech, but he doesn’t have to in order to make a sizeable impact in any offensive system.
His dreams of playing on the professional level were dashed for the umpteenth time, and now it’s becoming increasingly murky as to if another team will take a flier on Pryor.
It appeared as though his life on and off of the field had come full circle in Cleveland. Being mere hours away from his former university that scorned him, perhaps rightfully so, Pryor had the chance to make amends in front of hometown crowds. Thinking back on those trying months of unrelenting ridicule and disdain from national media and Buckeye fans alike, there’s no denying that he had the perfect situation ripe for his taking.
Searching for redemption in the form of the Browns was for naught.
At this point, it’s hard to envision Pryor ever gaining any kind of footing in the NFL after being let go by his fifth team in as many years.