ALAMEDA — Coming out of high school, Terrelle Pryor was a hot commodity. A 4.38 40-yard dash and heaps of raw talent meant he had his choice of schools in front of him.
Though he decided to attend Ohio State University, Eagles coach Chip Kelly said during a conference call with the media that he tried to recruit Pryor to Oregon after his senior year at Jeannette High School in his Pennsylvania hometown.
Pryor was a perfect fit for the blur offense that Kelly ran, one that relied on the read-option just as much as standard run and pass plays.
He may have even been drafted by the Eagles if Kelly was there before the 2011 season, as Philadelphia will have only Nick Foles and Matt Barkley — a less than mobile duo — for quarterback on Sunday. Kelly said of Pryor:
“He’s big, athletic. I thought he had it (as a passer at the college level). I thought he could be a college quarterback because I’d seen him work. I knew how much playing quarterback was to him, a lot of people suggested he was a really good athlete and he was always driven to be a quarterback which is always an awesome thing.”
Too bad for Kelly that, according to Pryor, his big pitch was the jerseys.
Pryor eventually led OSU to a 26-17 victory over the Oregon Ducks during the 2010 Rose Bowl. Pryor led the game in both rushing (72 yards on 20 attempts) and passing (266 yards, 2 TD’s and 1 INT).
Pryor was reluctant to talk about Kelly’s recruiting efforts, but said:
“I loved his personality. I loved the fire he brought to the game. He came my high school and spent a lot of time at my high school. My whole thing was the distance. My mother likes to watch me play and obviously I couldn’t afford the transportation for the flights and stuff.”
Pryor also said another consideration was that he wanted to pursue being a drop back quarterback.
With Pryor donning the Silver and Black, second-year quarterback Foles is most likely to start at when the Eagles come to town Sunday, along with Bay Area native tight end Zach Ertz.
It could be a fun rookie homecoming for Ertz, though his team has been outscored by 55 points against teams from the AFC West.
The Raiders could seal a divisional sweep of the Eagles — and a sweep of Pennsylvania teams — when they collide Sunday, something they really might need in order to keep their playoff hopes alive.
Something that might make the game a little more “chippy” (forgive the pun) is that Pryor grew up a Steelers fan, the other NFL team in Pennsylvania.
A state with hardcore football fans, the Steelers and Eagles serve Pennsylvania residents with a rivalry similar to that of the Raiders and 49ers.
Pryor downplayed any familiar feeling, saying:
“Philly is four or five hours away, so it‘s not very relevant to me. I think getting any win in the NFL is fantastic and we need to do that no matter who we’re playing. It’s going to be the same feeling, winning is winning.”
The Eagles have lost five of their last seven games, with two of the team’s three total wins coming against teams at the bottom of NFL power rankings, the New York Giants and Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Despite their losing record, the Eagles still rank fifth in the league for total offense. This fact, and possibly the temporary loss of quarterback Michael Vick, scream that their biggest weaknesses are in the red zone and on defense.
The Raiders have allowed touchdowns on just half of opponents red zone attempts at home this year, forcing three fumbles, while rookie cornerback D.J. Hayden has Oakland’s sole red zone interception.
Hayden’s pick came during a very late night game against San Diego on what would be the Charger’s final offensive play, sealing the Raiders’ second win of the season.