"At some point in time, life rewards you for the hard times...He's responded. He's here early. He stays late. He does everything you would want someone to do."
-Bengals OC Hue Jackson on Terrelle Pryor, via Geoff Hobson (Bengals.com)
Somehow, it has already been four years since Terrelle Pryor and Jim Tressel found themselves at the center of a memorabilia scandal, one which seems tame by today's standards but at the time shook up the college football world. Pryor, now a member of the Cincinnati Bengals, is by all accounts a different man than he was in 2011. Hue Jackson, who was briefly Pryor's head coach during his stint in Oakland, seems impressed by who he has become.
With his "character issues" ostensibly behind him, the biggest question surrounding Pryor's NFL future is whether or not he can actually, you know, play quarterback. When he entered the league via supplemental draft in 2011, speculation was rampant that he would convert to tight end or wide receiver, given that he was in an elite class of athlete but lacked some of the nuanced abilities -- throwing into tight windows, making smart reads, avoiding sacks -- that distinguish NFL quarterbacks from their college peers. Pryor claimed that he had no interest in changing positions, citing his inability to catch (though those of us who watched the 2009 Fiesta Bowl against Texas beg to differ).
Andy Dalton presumably has the starting job in Cincy locked up, but that shouldn't deter Pryor. Injuries, shoddy play after a few solid years (paging Matt Schaub), and tons of other factors have helped supplant QBs in the past, and another 10-6 Bengal season with a first-round playoff exit might be enough to force the organization to make changes. Pryor, for his part, seems to be doing all he can to impress his coaches while he waits in the wings.
"Seeing two true road games is about the best you can ask of any top-20 program these days."
-Matt Norlander, CBS Sports
Things just aren't getting any easier for an Ohio State basketball team losing its best player to the NBA after just one year. In 2015-16, the Buckeyes face the tall task of taking on the Kentucky Wildcats, a perennial title favorite and all-around terrifying basketball team. Granted, the Wildcats are losing an insane seven players to this year's draft, but rare are the years in which John Calipari's team doesn't boast the best top-to-bottom potential in the country. Besides, Kentucky still has Alex Poythress, Tyler Ulis, and Marcus Lee, all of whom could do serious damage this season.
The last time the two teams faced off, Kentucky won in heartbreaking fashion on a Brandon Knight bucket with just seconds remaining, in a game where the Buckeyes were actually favored. That was back in 2011, in the Sweet 16 of the NCAA tournament. Thad Matta chose not to call timeout after the bucket, instead having the Buckeyes run the floor in the final seconds, resulting in a missed shot and an early exit.
Kentucky has to face a pretty brutal out-of-conference schedule this season, but the Buckeyes sadly kick off the hardest stretch for the Wildcats instead of closing it. After taking on Ohio State (at the Barclay's Center in NYC) on December 19, John Calipari's team will face Louisville a week later, and close the out-of-conference season against a potential top-five Kansas team in January.
"Since Elliott is considered the favorite, we're going to look at the guys with the best shot of crashing his Heisman party."
At the moment, Ezekiel Elliott is considered the Heisman frontrunner for 2015, given the stretch of games he ripped off to close the Buckeyes' title run last season. While the numbers show that actually betting, with money, on the Heisman trophy is statistically dumber than playing Keno or the lottery, it's never too early to start handicapping! Cleveland.com has begun a series highlighting the 10 players who they believe most likely to steal Elliott's thunder in New York City this season.
So far, the players profiled at No. 10 and No. 9 are Arizona LB Scooby Wright and Auburn QB Jeremy Johnson. Scooby Wright is certainly a long shot, given that just one defensive player has ever won the award, but as Bill Landis notes, Wright's numbers last season were better than Manti Te'o's from 2012 (in which he placed second behind Johnny Manziel), and he won more hardware than Joey Bosa, who could very well be next year's first NFL Draft pick.
Johnson, meanwhile, wasn't even the starter at Auburn last year. But he has had two years to learn the offense behind Nick Marshall, and while he isn't the runner that Cam Newton or Marshall were at Auburn, he might have the best arm of the three. He's an unknown commodity with sky-high potential, especially for a team that has playoff aspirations in 2015. While Landis' list is not yet finished, one has to imagine that somewhere on it will be an Elliott teammate -- whoever lines up under center for the Buckeyes would be a pretty good bet, too.
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