PHILADELPHIA – Chip Kelly made the trip to Jeannette, Pa. He just couldn’t get Terrelle Pryor to make the trip to Eugene, Ore.
“Never got a chance to get him to come out and visit,” Kelly said Wednesday.
Kelly was the offensive coordinator, then head coach at the University of Oregon at the time. Pryor was a standout football and basketball player in Jeannette, a town about 30 miles southeast of Pittsburgh.
“I knew him pretty well,” Kelly said. “I was in Jeannette about four or five times, watching him play basketball. Tremendous athlete.”
Pryor chose Ohio State, within driving distance of his friends and family in Western Pennsylvania. He and Kelly met again in the 2010 Rose Bowl. It was Kelly’s first bowl game as a head coach. Pryor led the Buckeyes to a 26-17 victory.
The two will cross paths again Sunday in Oakland. Pryor is the quarterback of the Oakland Raiders. Kelly is in his first season as a head coach in the NFL, and probably wishing he had a quarterback like Pryor to run his offense.
“I think the first thing that will strike you when you see him is just actually how big he is,” Kelly said. “You watch him on tape, he had a 93 yard run, the longest run for a quarterback in NFL history. But when you see him you look like you're looking at a defensive end. There's two guys that I've had an opportunity to coach against, Cam Newton and Terrelle Pryor, that when you look at them they're kind of like an NBA power forward, but they can run, and that's kind of the thing that jumps out at you is his athleticism.”
That 93-yard run came last week against Pittsburgh, the team Pryor grew up watching.
“The more film you watch, he makes you say `Wow’ a lot,” Eagles defensive coordinator Bill Davis said. “He’s such a versatile athlete. He’s big, he’s strong, he can move, he can throw the ball and his escapability is probably the best we’ve faced.”
Like a lot of young, mobile quarterbacks, Pryor is struggling to establish himself as an effective passer as well.
“I think he's really come along as a quarterback,” Kelly said. “I think he's growing. You can see him gaining more confidence each week. He's really working on everything in his game. But I think the one threat that he's always had is his ability to kind of take the ball and tuck it and run, so you've got to be really conscious. When he escapes it might not be a six yard gain, it could be a 60 yard gain with the type of wheels that he has.”