Closing the book on Oakland's Terrelle Pryor saga: The Beginning

Jared Wickerham

It's done. Terrelle Pryor is no longer a member of the Oakland Raiders. And so ends the saga of one of the most polarizing figures in Raiders recent memory. To understand it fully we must start from the beginning and work our way to present day. And when I say the beginning, I mean way back.

This story begins in Jeanette Pennsylvania (told you, it was the beginning). He was a two-sport star at Jeanette High school and verbally committed to play basketball at the University of Pittsburgh. That was until he ended up the top recruit in the nation as a football player which changed his plans.

By the time Pryor graduated, he had become the top prep recruit in the nation. He had plenty of schools offering him a scholarship, and he listened to just about all of them. Among the schools he visited were the likes of LSU, Penn State, Oregon, Michigan, and Ohio State.

At one point the decision appeared to be down to Michigan and Ohio State -- two bitter rivals the likes of which most recruits typically know the side on which they land. But then Pryor added to the confusion when he opted to take late visits to Penn State and Oregon, thus further delaying his decision.

By the time he announced his decision to head to Ohio State, every other big recruit in the nation had long since signed their letters. There were also many other recruits who were not offered scholarships because the schools were still holding out hope Pryor would choose them. One such school was Penn State and the residual affect was another Pennsylvania quarterback recruit hoping for a scholarship was instead left without one and forced to walk on. A recruit named Matt McGloin (I'll get back to him later).

Once Pryor got to Ohio State, he soon began driving cars from a local dealership which by itself seems innocent enough. But when you consider he drove eight different cars from that same dealership over his time in Columbus, that is suspicious to say the least. Add that there were a reported two dozen or so Terrelle Pryor autographed jerseys at that dealership and it really makes one wonder.

Those autographed jerseys seem more suspicious considering it was the exchange of such items for tattoos that ultimately got he and some of his fellow Buckeye teammates suspended. But unlike most cases of NCAA rules violations, their suspensions were not imposed immediately. They were curiously allowed to play in that season's Bowl game and their five-game suspension was to begin the following season.

This delayed suspension was on the condition that they sign an agreement that they would return for the next season to serve that suspension. Pryor was a junior and he signed the agreement. But as more evidence came out of Ohio State's transgressions, coach Jim Tressel was forced to resign.

With Tressel out as head coach, Pryor was, in his view, freed from his obligation to his now former coach and therefore applied for the NFL supplemental draft.

Incidentally, Pryor was seen driving one of the aforementioned cars he received to a team meeting hours after coach Tressel's forced resignation. To make matters worse, Pryor was driving the car with a suspended license following two tickets he received -- one for going 99 in a 65 and the other for going 94 in a 65. But Pryor felt that he was entitled to drive, so he did.

Pryor also felt he was entitled to slip his NCAA suspension and enter the 2011 NFL supplemental draft. The NFL took some time to rule on whether to allow Pryor into the supplemental draft because technically he didn't fit the criteria for entry. The supplemental draft is designed for players who were unable to return to their school. Pryor was seen as being perfectly able to return to his school. He simply didn't think he should have to.

He eventually was allowed to enter the supplemental draft in part because he told Commissioner Goodell that he would accept his ruling to uphold the NCAA-imposed five-game suspension without appeal.

Once he received word that he would be allowed in the supplemental draft, Pryor immediately scheduled a private workout for NFL scouts. Sixteen NFL team scouts showed up for this workout. In this workout it was noted that he excelled in every area except quarterback skills. This led to the inevitable question of whether he would be willing to play another position besides quarterback, to which he said he would absolutely agree to playing another position.

Also at his workout -- which included a 4.38 40 yard dash -- his stock was placed at the fourth round level. Unfortunately the Raiders didn't have a round four selection available to them. So if they wanted him, they would have to use their third round selection. They did just that.

And thus his career as an Oakland Raider was about to begin.

Continue on to the next part in the saga: The Arrival

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