Tressel accepts Pryor's right to expression

Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg

Terrelle Pryor's right arm and legs will go a long way toward determining Ohio State's success or failure against USC on Saturday (ESPN, 8 p.m. ET), but the space under the quarterback's left eye continues to draw more attention.

Pryor displayed his support for Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Michael Vick by wearing "Vick" on one of his eyeblack stickers during the season opener against Navy. The sophomore explained later that he has always looked up to Vick and looks past Vick's shortcomings off the field.

"Not everybody is the perfect person in the world," Pryor said of Vick. "Everyone does -- kills people, murders people, steals from you, steals from me. I just feel that people need to give him a chance."

The tribute and Pryor's comments have drawn some mixed reviews. Buckeyes head coach Jim Tressel, who said he wasn't aware of the Vick sticker until told about it after the game, doesn't have a strict policy on eyeblack displays.

"It's a little bit tough in this country to have too much of a policy on personal expression, but it's unfortunate when that distracts from situations that were so extraordinary as the weekend we had," Tressel said Tuesday at his weekly news conference. "And I guess you'd have to know Terrelle like I know Terrelle. There's probably not a more compassionate human being in the world than Terrelle."

Tressel recalled how Pryor sent him a text message Monday night saying the team needed to provide a boost for junior wide receiver Taurian Washington, who dropped two passes against Navy. Pryor also sent Tressel a text after Ohio State's loss to LSU in the BCS title game, which read, "Don't worry about it, Coach. We're going to get it done in the future."

Though Pryor's tribute to Vick caused a stir, Tressel is confident the quarterback didn't intend to cause any harm.

"He's one of those guys that he feels terrible about anything that's not just right," Tressel said. "And I know he doesn't feel good that [the tribute] disappointed someone. And his intention would never be to make anyone disappointed about something.

"We all sometimes miss the mark, but as I say, teachable, learnable moment."

A few other notes from Buckeye land:

  • Tressel said wide receiver/punt returner Ray Small looked better after a nasty bout with illness kept him off the field against Navy. An update on Small's status for the USC game will be provided Thursday. Wide receiver DeVier Posey is expected to return to practice in the next day or two after missing the second half of the Navy game with an ankle injury.

  • USC safety Taylor Mays last month referred to Pryor as "the little deuce" and himself as "the big deuce." Both players wear No. 2. Tressel's response? "They're both big deuces if you ask me, man."

  • Tressel called USC's return men "frightening."