Pryor compared to Young

Published 3:33 am Wednesday, December 31, 2008

When the talk turns to the potential of Ohio State quarterback Terrelle Pryor, people tend to reach for words to describe him.

Freakishly athletic. Smart. Sprinter-fast. Gifted.

Invariably, though, the best description comes down to two choice words: ‘‘young’’ and ‘‘Young.’’

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The best comparison for the Buckeyes’ 19-year-old, 6-foot-6 freshman always ends up being Texas’ Vince Young, the prototypical signal-caller with like abilities, now with the Tennessee Titans.

Pryor, like Young, can do things with his feet that other players his size cannot. And just like Young, Pryor’s throwing ability has been questioned. Both were also questioned about their leadership abilities when they were underclassmen.

Young, of course, ended all such talk by carrying the Longhorns past Southern California in the 2006 Rose Bowl to capture the national championship.

Now Pryor, the latest model of big quarterback to come off the assembly line, gets to see how much he’s learned in his first season when the No. 10 Buckeyes (10-2) take on Young’s old team in the Fiesta Bowl on Jan. 5.

‘‘It will be exciting to see how he plays, but also he’s going against one of the finest teams, so it’s going to be another measuring stick,’’ coach Jim Tressel said.

Pryor saw spot duty in the Buckeyes’ first three games, then took over as the starter in a controversial move that has led to much second-guessing of Tressel. Todd Boeckman, the first-team All-Big Ten quarterback a year ago when he led the Buckeyes to the national title game, was sent to the sidelines so Pryor could get on-the-job training instead of watching from the sidelines.

Boeckman has taken the high road. He refuses to second-guess Tressel’s decision and says only nice things about Pryor.

He said when NFL scouts visit practice, they invariably end up taking a peek at the rookie.

‘‘I wouldn’t know why you wouldn’t want (to scout him) because he is such a special athlete and special talent and he can do so many things on the field,’’ Boeckman said. ‘‘He still has a couple of years of college left but I am sure they are keeping an eye on him.’’

Pryor’s season has been a mixed bag.

Ohio State went 8-1 with him as a starter and his numbers have been good, although he has had the usual fits and starts that might be expected of a rookie.

He was far more effective as a rusher, gaining 553 yards and scoring six touchdowns including the 11-yard game-winner with 1:08 left in a stirring win over Wisconsin.