RENTON – Terrelle Pryor arrives at the Virginia Mason Athletic Center at 6 a.m. on weekdays. He meets every morning with the Seahawks’ most famous early bird, starting quarterback Russell Wilson, and they watch film, critique each other and begin a daylong series of challenges.
As they walk onto the practice field, they quiz each other on formations, on how to react during different situations, on how to accomplish that day’s objective. You’d think they were brothers if there wasn’t such a stark contrast in height (Wilson: 5 feet 11; Pryor 6-4) and status (Wilson: The Man; Pryor: to be determined).
Wondering how Pryor is handling his new, under-the-radar assignment with the Seahawks? Well, the fact that he’s attached himself to Wilson says everything. He’s learning plenty. And he’s contributing to Wilson’s efforts to get even better.
“We definitely think alike, in terms of hard work,” Pryor said. “Russell’s a great guy, a very friendly guy, a great person to be around. We’re beyond watching tape of the Green Bay game (the season opener). We’re already looking at division games. I love the way he prepares. We’re pushing each other.”
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Like Wilson, Pryor often stays in the quarterback room until 7 or 8 p.m., putting in consistent 12-hour days in the offseason. He still has an enormous task making the roster of a reigning Super Bowl champion with a star starting quarterback and one of the league’s best backups in Tarvaris Jackson. But Pryor isn’t approaching this challenge like an entitled person. He’s a big name who has been through a lifetime’s worth of trials already, and he’s humble enough to fight for his place in the NFL.
If you thought he would come to Seattle spoiled or disillusioned, then you should take another look. There’s Pryor, leaning against a wall, arms crossed, smiling wide. He comes across as charming, intelligent, perceptive and, especially, focused.
When the Seahawks traded a seventh-round draft pick to acquire Pryor from Oakland two months ago, you wondered if he would want out of this situation because the odds of playing time are so slim. But he has fallen for the organization.
“I’m happy here,” Pryor said. “It’s a different scene. I’m on an established team right now, not in a building process. It’s phenomenal. From top to bottom, everything is first class in this organization. I appreciate the opportunity, and I’m having a great time.”
Pryor understands the deal. Wilson is a franchise quarterback. Jackson is a quality backup who is beloved in the locker room. If Pryor wants to remain a Seahawk beyond the preseason, it’s likely that he will have to convince coach Pete Carroll and general manager John Schneider to keep a third quarterback on the 53-man roster.
Many have speculated he could do that by moonlighting at another position. It’s not going to happen. The Seahawks have said as much, and Pryor is adamantly against it, too.
“I don’t know how to catch. I don’t know how to run the ball as a running back,” Pryor said. “I’ve been a quarterback my whole life.”
Pryor is still a raw quarterback who must become a more consistent passer. It’s only human nature to look at his athleticism and wonder if he could be utilized elsewhere. He once ran a 4.38 40-yard dash. He was once one of the nation’s most sought-after prep basketball recruits. But playing quarterback defines him, and he became a standout at Ohio State before NCAA violations led him to leave school early. His college punishment was so severe that he still had to serve a five-game suspension to start his NFL career.
The more you get to know Pryor, the more you realize that his past mistakes were just that — mistakes. He isn’t a bad guy. He isn’t a troubled athlete. He’s a young man who turns 25 on Friday. And he’s maturing.
He’s philosophical about his entire journey.
“My path has been pretty wild,” Pryor said. “Having to enter the NFL through the supplemental draft, coming in the league with a suspension. It puts you on the backburner in coaches’ minds. They can think you’re too much to work with. I had to prove otherwise. So it’s just a blessing to be able to play this game and work on my craft. I feel lucky.
“In life, so many people have different struggles, but whatever it is, you’ve got to have that tunnel vision. I’ve blocked everything out. I’m trying to be the best Seahawk I can be.”
Pryor’s offseason started slowly as he learned the new system. But the coaches have raved about his improvement and his work ethic. Wilson has a study buddy. Pryor has a young quarterback to emulate.
“He’s been exactly on the mark,” Carroll said of Pryor.
“I think the thing that’s impressed me the most is just how he’s worked,” offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell said.
We’ll find out in late August if the hard work results in a roster spot. But regardless of what happens, Pryor is making the most of his time here.
Jerry Brewer: 206-464-2277
On Twitter @JerryBrewer