COLUMBUS - Terrelle Pryor, the most highly-prized trophy in this year's extended recruiting wars, won't arrive on the Ohio State University campus here for another couple of months.
But with his announcement on Wednesday that the record-setting Pennsylvania high school quarterback intends to play his college football for the Buckeyes, Pryor has already created a quite a stir - a cyber stir.
In the hours before Pryor's press conference that ended months of speculation over his college choice, traffic on the official Internet home of the Buckeyes - OhioStateBuckeyes.com - doubled. When the clock struck noon, the hour Pryor was to name his school, the OSU web site saw activity spike from its normal volume of more than 1,500 visitors per hour, to more than 6,000.
The Pryor fever was sustained throughout the remainder of the day, according to Jeff Brown, web communications specialistist for the Ohio State athletic department. More than 16,000 "unique browsers" visited the site over the next four afternoon hours, a jump of about 10,000 over the same time period the previous day.
The popular fan site Bucknuts.com, which offers extensive year-round coverage of Ohio State's football recruiting efforts, experienced a cyberspace tsunami over the Pryor signing.
On a normal day, Bucknuts expects to see 50,000 unique visitors to its site, and entertains about 250,000 page views. But on Wednesday, when Pryor unzipped his jacket to reveal his Ohio State T-shirt and then pulled on a black hat with a scarlet Block O on it, the traffic on Bucknuts shot up to 200,000 visitors, and the site temporarily crashed. Steve Helwagen, managing editor of Bucknuts, said the site maintained operation, but visitors experienced slower page views and had to refresh the connection often.
"When the activity is as overwhelming as it was on Wednesday when Pryor made his announcement, you can't really get an accurate read on what the total number is," Helwagen said. "Whatever the maximum is - we went beyond that."
He said the Bucknuts website activity was similar on national signing day in February when the majority of recruits made their college choices official, but no one player had generated the interest that Pryor has, fueled even more by his serious consideration of both Ohio State and Michigan.
"Pryor's national stature as the top quarterback on everyone's list certainly added a lot to the interest, but it was really the perfect recruiting storm since the main parties battling for him are such bitter rivals," Helwagen said. "The way the web site activity went just confirms that there are so many people interested in Ohio State football, and even though most people were at work on Wednesday afternoon, they all wanted to know if this kid was going to be a Buckeye."
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