There was little hope Pryor could continue his career at Ohio State after months of scrutiny that intensified in recent days. The resignation of coach Jim Tressel combined with a new NCAA investigation into Pryor's car usage and allegations he received extra benefits made the quarterback's departure inevitable.
"In the best interest of my teammates, I have made the decision to forgo my senior year of football at The Ohio State University," Pryor said in a statement issued through his lawyer, Larry James.
James told me Pryor had been deliberating his future in the past few days and reached a decision late Tuesday afternoon. Asked if Pryor will enter the NFL's supplemental draft in July, James said, "That's still to be determined." It's hard to see Pryor going any other route.
Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith and interim head coach Luke Fickell issued statements on Pryor's departure.
Smith: "We understand Terrelle’s decision and wish him well in this next phase of his life. We hope he returns to The Ohio State University one day to finish his degree."
Fickell: "I was notified this evening that Terrelle has decided to pursue a professional career. I wish him the best in his pursuits."
Already suspended the first five games for selling memorabilia items in exchange for cash and tattoos, and with the NCAA bearing down, Pryor needed to step away. Tressel's resignation shifted the spotlight to Pryor, and the quarterback was reportedly extremely upset and distressed by all the scrutiny. While a portion of Ohio State fans continued to support Tressel, Pryor's approval rating in Columbus quickly plummeted.
Pryor's presence on the field certainly could have helped the Buckeyes this season, and his departure will hurt in the short term, but there is a time to part ways and this is it.
Pryor came to Ohio State amid unparalleled hype as the nation's top recruit in the 2008 class. He became the Buckeyes' starter just weeks into his freshman season and never relinquished the spot. Although he improved each season, particularly from 2009 to 2010, his on-field performance never quite matched the hype.
But he still helped Ohio State to three Big Ten titles, three wins against Michigan and two BCS bowl victories, being named MVP for both the Rose and Sugar Bowl wins. His accomplishments on the field shouldn't be forgotten or dismissed. Neither should his unique talent.
Off the field, Pryor was a lighting rod, from his Michael Vick eye-black tribute to some of his not-so savvy comments. Ohio State went to great lengths to shield Pryor from the media, and in some ways, it was hard to blame the school.
Pryor has been the most discussed player in the Big Ten the past three seasons, and he'll continue to generate debate in the coming weeks and months.
But much like Tressel, it was hard to see this ending any other way for Pryor. And it's better the decision was made sooner rather than later.