COLUMBUS, Ohio — Ohio State fans have waited nearly a year and a half for Isaiah Pryor to become a Buckeye.
They won’t have to wait much longer. The 4-star safety from Bradenton (Fla.) IMG Academy is set to enroll early. He committed to Ohio State in July 2015, giving the Buckeyes another booming defensive back. According to the 247 Sports composite rankings, he is the nation’s No. 5 safety and No. 48 overall prospect.
IMG coach Kevin Wright spoke to Land of 10 about what Ohio State fans can expect from one of the program’s standout recruits.
Q: What traits of his stand out?
Wright: “He’s highly motivated. He brings that motivation every day. That’s every day to practice, every day to the weight room and every day in the classroom. He’s a finalist for the Watkins Award and I think that shows what kind of person he is. Not everybody has that same type of intrinsic motivation, but he does. At times you have to tell him to loosen up a bit because he’s so focused, but he’s a tremendous young man. You see it on the field, but I also get a chance to see it off the field in different capacities.”
Q: When did you first realize how deep his motivation and focus went?
Wright: “He did a nice job in the spring and we knew he was motivated. But the first time it really stood out was in late July. We’re a boarding school and we bring our kids back then to get them in the groove. One of the things we do is we bring in a group to do military boot camp. These are guys who are veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts. We put our kids through all kinds of different tests to find out who the leaders are and increase mental toughness and bonding.
“Isaiah, that was probably the first time where he stood out in front of everybody. You got to see a little bit more about what kind of person he is. You always find out who the leaders are going to be, and I remember him stepping up during that weekend. He really stood out. We knew he was a good football player, but that gave him an opportunity to show our team what he’s all about. He’s great, not just individually but also at making others around him better.”
Q: How does he compare to others from a physical standpoint?
White: “I don’t think there’s anything average about Isaiah physically. He’s got a grown man’s body right now. I think he’ll continue to get thicker as he gets older. A lot of that comes from hard work. He’s always getting extra reps. On Saturday night, he’ll be out on the track doing ladder drills and working on his footwork. From a physical standpoint, he ranks up there with anyone in the country.
“Some of it is God-given, but a lot of it comes because of his work ethic. He’s a “one more rep” guy. He pushes his body to the limit. That’s one of the reasons he stands out when you see him. He’s a physical specimen. He’s under 10 percent body fat. I think he’s going to continue to blow up as he gets older.”
Q: How have you seen him progress over the last year?
Wright: “It’s one of those things where I think his biggest growth has probably come in understanding coverages and understanding his role and how to play the pass in multiple coverage sets. He’s always been a guy that can come downhill and make hits and make big plays. Understanding coverages and not just going out there and playing has probably been the biggest area where he’s grown. He’s not just relying on his physical ability. He’s able to rely on his football IQ and has an even better understanding of his position.
Q: Is there a play or a performance you can remember that demonstrates what he can do on the field?
Wright: “The biggest thing is not a single game, it’s his consistency. He consistently performs well. I don’t ever remember him having a poor performance or a bad practice. The consistency is what stands out to me more than one play or one game. That applies to him in practice as well as games. I don’t ever remember him missing a rep in practice. I don’t ever remember him missing a rep in a game. He’s a warrior out there. That’s how he approaches everything.”
Q: How would you describe his personality?
Wright: “He’s very straight-faced off the field. He comes across as being really quiet. However, after you get to know him and he loosens up, you see that he has a good sense of humor. He has to be familiar with you, but it’s inside him. He’s one of those guys that doesn’t say a lot, but he doesn’t have to say a lot. The more you get to know him, the more he opens up. He’s got a good heart. I think he’s got a good personality. His teammates like him. He’s fit in well with our football team. We’ve got guys from all over the country and different countries and he fits in well with all of them.”