Now that Jeannette star Terrelle Pryor has narrowed his college choice from 70-plus scholarships to 11 finalists – which doesn’t include Pitt – Jayhawks coach Ray Reitz addressed the two most important factors in the decision.
“The big thing is he wants to play quarterback,” Reitz said, “and be on a national title contender.”
Those criteria played apparently roles in Pryor eliminating Pitt from consideration. Either Pryor doesn’t believe the Panthers wanted him as a quarterback or he doesn’t think they are ready to contend for a BCS bowl.
“The word up here is that Pitt wants the Vick kid at quarterback,” Reitz said, referring to Kiski Area’s Josh Vick. “There have been numerous people who called and told us that (Pitt) wanted to get Pryor down there as an athlete.”
Not that it would’ve mattered.
“I don’t know if he had a lot of interest in going there in the first place,” Reitz added. “I didn’t know if Pitt was really in it, to be honest with you. I think he was lukewarm with them. I think the kid wants to get away a little bit.”
Reitz said Pryor had a good relationship with Pitt coach Dave Wannstedt and offensive coordinator Matt Cavanaugh, although it’s clear that the Jeannette camp doesn’t believe the Panthers made Pryor a high priority.
“I’ll be honest, I’d like to see him go to Pitt because I could go watch him play,” Reitz said. “But their offense might not fit his style. You’ve got to go somewhere he can run the ball.”
If that’s the case, that Notre Dame made the cut only adds confusion. Fighting Irish coach Charlie Weis put people off with his arrogance, runs a pro-style offense and alluded to the possibility of Pryor playing split wide.
“Notre Dame said, ‘If he’s second- or third-team QB, he could play receiver,’” Reitz said. “If he goes to wide receiver, he may not go back there (to quarterback) because he’s pretty talented.”
Yet Reitz said “the aura” of Notre Dame’s campus is a reason why Pryor could use an official visit on the Irish.
Reitz also downplayed the idea that Pitt’s signing of four-star quarterback Pat Bostick, who is expected to contend for the starting job as a true freshman this fall, had anything to do with Pryor’s decision.
“That could be a possibility, but he’s never alluded to that,” Reitz said. “He’s a pretty confident young man. I think competition is what he thrives on. When we’re ready to play a big game, there’s one guy I know I can count on.”
Reitz dismissed the notion Pryor is looking for a school where he can step directly into the starting lineup. Michigan, Penn State and Tennessee are the only schools on his list that won’t have returning starters at quarterback.
“He’s probably going to be redshirted by most of them,” Reitz said. “When (offensive coordinator) Greg Davis said Texas would redshirt him, he was very happy about that. He’s a sponge. If he can learn the system the first year, then have four years to play in it, he’d be happy about it. Terrelle’s pretty smart.”
And Reitz believes Pryor is only going to get better. At 6-foot-6, 220 pounds, he already reminds many of Vince Young. With a redshirt, Pryor could get even bigger.
“He wants to play quarterback at 230,” Reitz said. “He’s 220 right now and still looks skinny. He could be like JaMarcus Russell.”
The validity of comparisons to the NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year and the NFL’s No. 1 overall draft pick is why Rivals.com and Tom Lemming rank Pryor the nation’s top recruit. Pryor has tremendous potential and a work ethic to match his talent. Reitz said Pryor “loves to lift weights” and is first in every drill during practice.
“Most kids with his talent are just the opposite,” Reitz said. “He’s matured into a really good leader. There’s so much more upside to this kid. People don’t even know. He’s like an iceberg. There’s so much beneath the surface.”