Rams linebacker James Laurinaitis, who played collegiately at Ohio State, said "it's disheartening" to see how embattled former coach Jim Tressel has been portrayed following months of turmoil, player infractions and his cover up that led to his recent resignation. Laurinaitis also said that Buckeyes quarterback Terrelle Pryor, whose indiscretions played a role in Tressel stepping down, would be best served returning to Ohio State for another season so he can mature and re-build his image.
Laurinaitis played at Ohio State under Tressel from 2005 to 2008. He was selected by the Rams in the second round of the 2009 draft. During my "Cover Two" Podcast with co-host Bucky Brooks, Laurinaitis acknowledged that he has a personal relationship with Tressel and that the coach was wrong for not coming clean about his knowledge that some players had violated NCAA rules.
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"The fact that he's being vilified as some liar and backstabber and stuff," Laurinaitis said. "That guy is about as genuine a person as you can meet. I've seen him be a father figure to plenty of players ... To see him get portrayed as the ultimate fake guy is disheartening."
Pryor meanwhile, could opt to enter the NFL's supplemental draft -- if there is one -- before this season. He has been suspended for the first five games of next season and with an ongoing investigation at Ohio State, there is no guarantee that he'd be eligible to play if more transgressions are discovered. Plus, being part of the infractions that led the popular Tressel's resignation might not make him overly popular on campus.
Laurinaitis said Pryor would do himself a service by weathering the fallout at Ohio State instead of entering the supplemental draft, where an NFL general manager said he'd likely be selected in the latter middle rounds at best.
"You want to see some more maturity out of him, some more growth as far as a quarterback, being a leader throughout the locker room," Laurinaitis said. "This is an opportunity for him to say, 'OK, let me walk the straight and narrow here, get everything together and grow up a little bit (with) another year.' Hopefully he learns from this. He can go one of two ways.
"You can keep going further south or turn yourself around and use it and say, 'Listen, I handled this adversity and I grew from it.' You hope he goes that route. As long as you stay out of the media and stay out of the limelight with all that stuff and focus on football and being a leader of the squad, he's be alright. I hope that for him."