The Terrelle Pryor saga finally ends Wednesday.
Pryor, the dual-threat quarterback and the nation’s No. 1 recruit according to both Rivals.com and Scout.com, is expected make his college decision on National Signing Day, just two days from now.
Reports coming from his hometown of Jeannette, Pa., say that decision may be delayed to allow him to make a last-minute campus visit or two.
Still, whether it’s in the next few days or the next few weeks, Pryor’s choice is quickly creeping up on us. And according to the recruiting gurus, the decision will drastically change the landscape of Michigan football for the next four years.
But can the one 18-year-old-kid’s choice really have that much of an impact on a program?
Quarterback U’s favorite son didn’t have the hype:
Tom Brady, the say-no-wrong, do-no-wrong (well, most of the time) quarterback is a proud product of the University of Michigan.
Even though he couldn’t top the three Super Bowl ring mark last night, the reigning NFL MVP is already considered one of the best quarterbacks ever. You already knew that.
But what may surprise you is that Brady’s likely star rating wouldn’t have exceeded the three mark, either.
Brady played before the era of Rivals.com and Scout.com recruiting ratings, but he was far from the five-star mold his successor Drew Henson entered Michigan with.
Nobody expected much from the under-the-radar California kid who was destined to be a transition guy stuck between national championship-winning Brian Griese and the wunderkind Henson.
But the sixth-round NFL Draft pick who was supposed to compete for the privilege to back up Drew Bledsoe in New England quickly became the star.
Not exactly the most-traveled path to NFL immortality, but whatever works, right?
Henson’s two extra recruiting stars likely aren’t worth as much as Brady’s rings, or the spot in Canton that’s already cordoned off for Tom Terrific.
Coming down to the wire:
Hype doesn’t always pan out, but it’s there for a reason, and Pryor has certainly earned all the media attention.
The quarterback’s measurables alone are enough to make grown men (read: college coaches) drool, or travel halfway across the country with practically their entire coaching staff to take in his high school basketball game.
But Rich Rodriguez and Jim Tressel didn’t make that trip this weekend just to confirm he’s 6-foot-6 or 235 pounds.
They wanted to see his 4.4 speed in person. They wanted to witness the freakish athlete put up a near triple-double in his “other” sport. They wanted to show Pryor how important he was to them by stuffing a good portion of their staffs into a stuffy high school gymnasium.
For one of the two coaches, the efforts will likely pay dividends. Most experts predict it’s down to the two Big Ten rivals.
Does Pryor’s signature, already going for hundreds on eBay, guarantee one team the upper hand in the rivalry for the next half-decade once it’s on a school’s letter of intent? Michigan and Ohio State’s sideline generals must think so. But history may disagree.
No thing is a sure thing:
For every out-of-the-park home run, there’s a pop up that doesn’t leave the infield.
Or more literally, for every Tim Tebow or Vince Young, there’s a Kyle Wright or Rhett Bomar.
Having a bunch of stars next to your name as a high-school prospect doesn’t necessarily guarantee you’ll become a star.
Need local proof? Need recent proof? How about Ryan Mallett? Michigan’s latest five-star commitment had more fumbled snaps than games won. He bolted from Ann Arbor after just one year.
Mallett isn’t the only recent blue chipper not to realize his potential, though. Far from it.
Kevin Grady and Carlos Brown were both highly touted running backs coming out of high school. Grady had the misfortune of tearing his ACL last year and both backs have been stuck behind Mike Hart (a three-star recruit). But those excuses don’t explain the fumbling issues both have battled at certain times during their Michigan careers.
That isn’t saying neither will succeed at Michigan – Brown’s grin may be permanently stuck after seeing highlights of Steve Slaton in Rodriguez’s wide-open spread offense – but the Wolverines’ success rate with their recent five stars has been less than perfect.
This isn’t Michigan-specific. It’s not even college-football specific. When nine-year-olds have football highlight tapes getting hundreds of thousands of views on YouTube, it’s simply impossible for everyone to catch up to their own hype.
Life will go on:
There’s a good chance – probably a little more than the 50 percent one he’s advertising – that Pryor won’t come to Michigan.
A setback? Obviously. The apocalypse? Hardly.
The Wolverines decided to still field a team last year without Ronald Johnson, their program survived without Jai Eugene and the world continued rotating on its axis after Justin King chose Penn State.
Call me crazy, but this trend will still continue if Pryor dons the Scarlet and Grey, or if he shocks the world and chooses a school outside the Big Ten.
Whether it’s Pryor, Steve Threet or some other recruit running Michigan’s offense next year, it’s just one position. Sure, it’s an important one, but the excitement surrounding Rodriguez’s hiring shouldn’t be erased if one 18 year-old decides to go elsewhere.
– Bell can be reached at email@example.com