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Boeckman will start, but Pryor could play in first half of Ohio State's opener

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- The most talked-about player on Ohio State has never played a down in scarlet and gray and won't start in the season opener on Saturday against Youngstown State.

Terrelle Pryor, acclaimed as the top quarterback recruit in the country last winter, is listed as No. 3 on the Buckeyes' depth chart behind starter Todd Boeckman and backup Joe Bauserman.

Coach Jim Tressel said Tuesday that he was hoping all three would get to play in the opening half against Youngstown State, a Championship Subdivision opponent the Buckeyes beat 38-6 a year ago.

"He's nervous because he's the kind of guy that wants everyone to be pleased with his performance, starting with himself. He's a perfectionist," Tressel said of the 6-foot-6, 235-pounder out of Jeannette, Pa. "But I think when it comes down to the concepts that our people have asked him to understand, the true Xs and Os that people have asked him to understand, I think he's done an excellent job."

Make no mistake about it, Boeckman is the starting quarterback although you'd never guess that based on the hoopla surrounding Pryor. When Ohio State had an open-to-the-public practice at Ohio Stadium last week, the buzz in the crowd was about Pryor and not 1,600-yard rusher Chris Wells, Butkus Award-winning linebacker James Laurinaitis or Boeckman, who led the Buckeyes to the national championship game last season.

Since he won't attend his first college class for almost another month, Pryor was not made available to reporters this week to discuss his role on this year's team. But clearly others have some mighty high expectations -- and not a year or two from now.

Check out the video Web site Youtube.com and there are dozens of listings for Pryor highlights and interviews. His Wikipedia page is longer than that of many heads of state.

No wonder an 18-year-old kid could get a big head. So Ohio State's players have tried to knock him down a peg.

Asked for his impressions, cornerback and team captain Malcolm Jenkins said Pryor is "a tremendous athlete. Someone who's willing to learn. He's humble ... now."

Jenkins said the upperclassmen have gone to great lengths to make sure Pryor's ego didn't run away from him.

"We had to show him a little bit that this is a different level and everybody starts from the bottom," he said.

During seven-on-seven passing drills in the summer, the usually soft-spoken Jenkins said he felt compelled to call out Pryor.

"I usually challenged him and talked junk. He got mad a few times," Jenkins said. "I wouldn't hit him. The way to test somebody's humbleness or where they are mentally is to challenge them verbally to see how they can handle people coming at them and how they handle pressure. In a game, a lot of guys talk junk. You have to be able to just take it in stride and keep your cool. At first he had a little trouble with it, but he's fine now."

Others on the team tried different methods to test last year's USA Today national prep player of the year.

"The seniors must get after him pretty good because every once in a while I'll get a text from him saying, 'Are we supposed to get up at 5:30 or is this another senior prank on me?'" Tressel said.

Boeckman smiled when asked if he was aware that many Ohio State fans are wondering how many games it will take before Pryor supplants him as the starting quarterback.

"Maybe some of those guys should be our coaches," the fifth-year senior cracked.

The plan of the real coaches is to bring Pryor along slowly, getting him a few plays or a few series to show what he can do in the first couple of games.

Should he live up to expectations, he might draw a larger role in the offense along the lines of what Florida did two years ago when Chris Leak was supplemented by freshman Tim Tebow. The Gators won the national championship, swamping the Buckeyes 41-14 in the title game and setting the stage for Tebow to win the Heisman last season.

But first things first. It's still a major jump to go from the Pennsylvania high school playoffs one year to playing for one of the nation's top 3 team before a crowd of more than 100,000 screaming fans the next.

"I walked by the meeting room and Terrelle was in there watching film this morning and I asked him if he was nervous," Tressel said. "He just had that big smile and was trying to act like he wasn't going to be. But he'll be nervous."