Former NFL coach Jon Gruden, now an analyst for ESPN and a member of the Monday Night Football broadcast crew, is flying to Columbus Wednesday to spend some time at Ohio State's spring football practice.
Asked during a Tuesday conference call if he thought OSU's Terrelle Pryor could play quarterback in the NFL, Gruden said, "I'll have a better feel for that after I sit down and watch them. But let me say this: The quarterbacks I'm seeing coming through here in the last few years are getting bigger, stronger, and they're getting abnormally large. When you look at the size of (Tim) Tebow, the size of Cam Newton, now you're talking about Terrelle Pryor, Blaine Gabbert, Ryan Mallett, if you get with the right coach who can cater an offense to Terrelle Pryor's ability....''
Gruden saw Pryor in person during the Rose Bowl game against Oregon following the 2009 season. He seemed unaware that Pryor is sidelined this spring following foot surgery. Pryor, a junior, is currently listed at 6-foot-6 and 233 pounds.
"I stood on the field right before the Rose Bowl. I thought Terrelle Pryor was Julius Peppers,'' Gruden said. "That is the kind of size he has. I'll know more when I see him live in the next few days in practice and how he is behind the scenes. But everybody's looking for big, explosive athletes.
"The way they're protecting quarterbacks, that is the one reason I really like Cam Newton. You can't tackle these guys below the legs. They're hard to bring down. If you watch (Ben) Roethlisberger and Josh Freeman create plays, it's a huge advantage for guys of this size. You can't bring them down. So I think there is a chance for Pryor. I just will know more after I see him personally. ''
UPDATE: An email from Ohio State said Gruden will be the keynote speaker at the coaches' clinic, which begins Thursday evening and continues Friday morning. His address will be at 11:20 a.m. Friday at the Schottenstein Center.