One of the most intriguing stories heading into training camp is Terrelle Pryor.
The former Raider and Buckeye is in the midst of a transition from quarterback to wideout. Few doubt Pryor's athletic ability, but can he master the position and beat more experienced wide receivers to earn a roster spot?
Pryor recently talked about his approach to the challenge during an interview with BuckeyeXtra on 97.1 The Fan in Columbus with Tim Hall and Beanie Wells. You can listen to the full interview here, but most of Pryor's relevant quotes are laid out below.
Upon learning about his switch from quarterback to wide receiver, Pryor did something very smart: he sought out veteran players for advice and guidance.
"Antonio Brown is my very good friend. Randy Moss was coming to Pittsburgh and he reached out to Antonio and he said 'Hey, let's get Terrelle out here and let's try to help him out.' Antonio wanted to do the same, but I can really relate to Randy, so I ended up getting with Randy. This guy's a nutcase in terms of his work ethic and what he looks for, man. He pretty much just broke me down and said, 'Alright, this is what you need to get better at.' He said it bluntly and just told me straight up what I'm not good at when he saw me run some routes. Eventually I kept spending time with him and spending time with him.''
In addition to working with Moss and Josh Gordon, Pryor also caught passes from Josh McCown. The veteran will likely begin the regular season as the starting quarterback, so Pryor's work with McCown is important.
"I just got done throwing for the past few days with Josh McCown and he's kind of saying 'Hey on this play, we have inside routes and outside we have this route. I was pretty sharp from just looking at the playbook for the last month. I knew a lot of the stuff he was talking about and we were pretty much on the same page and I don't think there was one ball on the ground after a 100 or something balls. It was a great workout and it was great to be around a veteran like that and I look forward to being with Johnny [Manziel] and the other quarterbacks as well."
Both Wells and Hall noted Pryor's hard work ethic during the interview. Pryor also hit on the point, giving examples of his relentless attitude.
"I won't let anyone outwork me. It's the same to this day because I take my craft very, very serious. If there's a route that I mess up or I'm tired, I'm going to keep on doing that same route. I ran a 20-yard circus route, a 20-yard out, I ran it about 30 times until I got the cut right. Doing little stuff like that and just continuing to do it until I get it perfect and having an eye like Randy out there being very particular on what he wants to see -- he's very happy now with what he saw and what he has continued to see through my progress. I've made a lot of progress and I'm proud to say I'm close. It's going to be fun, it's going to be different, but I'm definitely going to be able to use my playmaking ability to jump over people, run past people and I'm looking forward to it.''
Some might be daunted by making such a switch in a short period of time. After all, Pryor's livelihood in the NFL depends on his ability to complete this task successfully. The Jeannette, Pennsylvania native doesn't seem to nervous, however.
"I believe in my God-given ability. I also believe that I can play quarterback and I also believe I can play receiver at a high level ... I pray to the Lord all the time, every single day, and I believe that the blessings he gave me athletically I'm going to use them full-strength and I believe I can do anything if I put my mind to it. The way I work, there's nothing that you can tell me. Are there going to be little things I need to get better at? Yeah. I'm a human just like everybody else. But I work my butt off. That's what gives me my confidence, the way I work and how hard I work. I just believe I can do it.''
Pryor's ability has helped to keep him in the NFL, as he nearly didn't make it this far.
Buckeye fans might remember Pryor's ignominious exit from Columbus. Trapped in an NCAA scandal, Pryor was kept out of the NFL Draft and banned from the OSU campus for five years.
At long last, Pryor will make a triumphant return to Ohio Stadium on August 7 for the Orange & Brown Scrimmage.
"I've been waiting for this opportunity for five years from the NCAA scandal and that stuff going on. And whether I agree with that scandal, I'm happy ... It's going to be a warm feeling and I'm going to enjoy it and take it all in. But at the end of the day, as you know, it's all about business. I'm going to be in there practicing, working my butt off and making plays, that's all I can do.''
Pryor is prepared for whatever reception he receives, good or bad. He will be locked in mentally for the scrimmage.
"When you're practicing and you're glued in to that play or glued in to that practice, you don't really hear stuff, especially from playing the quarterback position, you don't really hear anything because your focus should be so laser-beam on every single play that you don't hear any noise. That's where expect myself to be at, especially being in a new position, I need to be so laser-beam focused that I don't hear anything, the good or the bad. That's where I try to put the mental game for myself."
Heading into training camp, Pryor is ready to wow his teammates and coaches. He has received plenty of positive feedback from Brown, Moss, and Gordon.
"I'm hearing it from guys like Randy saying 'The sky's the limit' or Josh Gordon saying 'You'll be good.' You have little butterflies and I just can't wait because they kind of see where I'm at and how good I can be and it's time to go out there and show the coaches exactly what I showed those guys ... That's my main thing, just go in and have fun and show my athletic ability and that's all I can really do.''
Pryor plans on taking a humble approach, particularly with his wideout colleagues. The other wide receivers on the roster have much more experience, as Pryor well recognizes.
"I'll never put myself in front of any of those guys or say I'm better than them or this and that because they're going to have the upper hand on me anyway in terms of experience. I look to learn from those guys if they're willing to teach me."