The high school coach of Ohio State quarterback Terrelle Pryor says that his former player could be utilized more effectively by Buckeyes coach Jim Tressel.
"They need Terrelle to run more," former Jeannette (Pa.) High School coach Ray Reitz said. "They've put the reins on him and they need to let him go free. When I watch Terrelle play right now, I see a robot."
Reitz, now the coach at Latrobe High, said Pryor was recruited on the premise of a more diverse offense.
"All I know is they promised him that they would teach him a pro-style system with both a shotgun and under center," Reitz said. "Jim Tressel is a great coach and he's been running his offense successfully for 30 years. But I'd like to see some zone-read plays where with one mistake [by the defense], he can be gone. With some zone-read plays, they wouldn't be able to take away all the outside runs because he'd be a threat to go between the tackles."
Pryor threw two interceptions and lost two fumbles as Ohio State (No. 19 BCS, No. 18 AP) was upset by two-touchdown underdog Purdue last week. On Tuesday, Tressel stood behind his quarterback, deflecting fan suggestions that he bench Pryor or move him to wide receiver.
Buckeyes receiver DeVier Posey, one of Pryor's favorite targets, made the case that too much has been expected of Pryor, a sophomore who has commanded attention from the moment he set foot on campus.
"From his first pass, [people said] he's really not that good. But I really feel that's kind of hard for a guy like that, you know what I mean? There's only one Tim Tebow in this world and I don't really know what people want from [Pryor]," Posey said. "He's going to get better. He really can't do much worse."
Posey went on to say Pryor will improve, although he was a bit unsure of when.
"I feel like he's going to get better, he's going to be a great player. It's going to happen in time," Posey said, explaining he believes Pryor is further along than Ohio State Heisman winner Troy Smith or ex-Texas QB Vince Young were at the same stage. "And I just feel like if people are patient, and he's patient [he'll be great]. ... He's not going to be great tomorrow. But if he works on it, eventually in a year or two, or even maybe by the end of this year, he'll be a great player."
Reitz said he believes that Pryor is being affected by criticism -- though he adds Pryor would never admit it. And he says it would be a mistake to move Pryor to wide receiver.
"He would be a great wide receiver or even a great linebacker," Reitz said. "But that doesn't mean you should move him from quarterback. In fact, I don't think he'd agree to a move to wide receiver. Give him time to grow. Put the ball in his hands and if there is a breakdown let him run. It doesn't look to me like he's relaxed. It doesn't look like he has rhythm. It doesn't look like he's comfortable."
Pryor was among the most highly sought recruits in the nation when he chose Ohio State over Michigan, Penn State and Oregon, after extending the process beyond signing day. But Reitz believes Pryor's high-profile recruiting process is hurting him now.
"There are people that are rooting for him to fail because [they think] he's arrogant," Reitz said. "But it was the college coaches who told him to take time after signing day if he wasn't ready."
"There is no question that Rich Rodriguez's offense, for example, would be more apt to suit Terrelle's skills," Reitz said. "But Ohio State sold him on the idea that they would prepare him for the NFL and that they don't run 'zone-read' in the NFL. Jim Tressel is a great coach. But I can tell you there is more to Terrelle Pryor than what we've been seeing."
At his news conference Tuesday, Tressel was asked about maximizing Pryor's skills.
"I don't know if anyone could question the explosive potential both running and passing that Terrelle brings and have we all done everything to make sure that we magnify that?" Tressel said. "Probably not. Has he done everything he needs to do to maximize that? Probably not. But it doesn't mean we won't stop working on it."
Joe Schad is a national college football reporter for ESPN. Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.