Most Michigan fans are thanking their lucky stars that Terrelle Pryor didn’t come to Michigan. Pryor’s stated reason for picking OSU was that he thought Tressel would do a better job of getting him ready for the NFL. For all I know, Columbus dealerships might have been feeding him with free cars even then, but for now let’s assume he chose OSU on the merits.
What if he had chosen Michigan?
Let’s stipulate that Pryor was going to walk into any institution with very serious maturity issues. The obvious question is whether the Right Kind of Coach could have gotten his head in gear, or if he’s the kind of kid who was going to run off the rails no matter what you did.
I suspect that in 2008, he would have easily beaten Steven Threet and Nick Sheridan, and started all or most of the season. Michigan lost a lot of winnable games that year. With Pryor’s physical gifts and a skill set better suited to the spread offense, Michigan’s record would almost certainly have been better, perhaps even as good as a bowl-qualifying 6-6, instead of a shattering 3-9.
It is very doubtful that Michigan would have brought in both Tate Forcier and Denard Robinson in the class of 2009, if they’d had Pryor. You don’t ordinarily get two four-star QBs the year after bringing in a five-star. If Michigan were going to get just one of the two, it would more likely have been Robinson, because Rodriguez offered him at QB, and no other school of Michigan’s caliber did. Forcier, seeing the prospect of sitting behind Pryor for three years, would have said “No, thanks.”
So going into 2009, Michigan’s QB roster would have been Pryor, Robinson, Sheridan, with Pryor as the returning sophomore starter. It’s at this point that Pryor’s issues would have begun to surface, as they did for another troubled sophomore QB, Tate Forcier. After a very good freshman year, Pryor would have started to act like he owned the place. The difference, I think, is that Rodriguez would not have tolerated that stuff.
The question is what would have happened then: would he have unraveled, as Forcier did? Or would he have bent to discipline, once it became clear that the Team was bigger than any one guy? (Incidentally, I am not suggesting that Forcier and Pryor have the identical issues; only that they are both head cases, for different reasons.)