Considered the most recruited high school football-basketball athlete in southwestern Pennsylvania since Tom Clements, Pryor was widely regarded as the nation's top football prospect of 2008, and was named "Junior of the Year" by Rivals.com. Pryor had originally hoped to be a two-sport athlete, as he was also one of the nation's most heralded high school basketball players, but he later chose football.
He was the starting quarterback for the Ohio State Buckeyes from 2008 to 2010, and was drafted by the Oakland Raiders in the third round of the 2011 NFL Supplemental Draft. He then played quarterback for the Raiders from 2011 to 2013 and later spent time with the Seattle Seahawks, Kansas City Chiefs, and Cincinnati Bengals. He converted full-time to wide receiver with the Cleveland Browns in 2015.
As a freshman at Jeannette High School, Pryor was clocked at 4.4 seconds in the 40-yard dash and 22.40 seconds in the 200-meter dash, and because of his athleticism and 6 ft 4 in (1.93 m) frame, he drew comparisons to former Texas standout Vince Young. Pryor also lived up to his recruiting ranking as a basketball player by leading the Jeannette Jayhawks to win their first WPIAL Championship in over 20 years, and then on to win the Pennsylvania PIAA state basketball championship game as a senior. During his junior year, he led the Jayhawks to their first Pennsylvania PIAA Class "AA" state football championship game where they lost to the Warriors of Wilson Area High School. During the 2007 football season, Pryor and the Jayhawks repeated as champions of the WPIAL. In the Pennsylvania state semi-finals against the Greyhounds from Wilmington Area High School, Terrelle became the first player in Pennsylvania history to run for 4,000 yards and also throw for 4,000 yards. The following week, Pryor led the Jayhawks to their first-ever Pennsylvania state championship by defeating the Dunmore Bucks, 49–21. At the conclusion of the season, Pryor had quarterbacked the Jayhawks to a Pennsylvania state season record of 860 points.
Pryor's high school accomplishments include being the two-time Pennsylvania Player of the Year, the offensive Player of the Year and the MVP of the U.S. Army All-American Bowl. He was named to the Parade All-America football team for the 2007 season and was selected as the Parade National Player of the Year.
As a basketball player, he was named a fourth-team Parade All-American in 2008.
Pryor was widely considered one of the top football recruits in the Class of 2008. He was ranked number four in the ESPNU 150 and the number one quarterback. Throughout his high school career, Pryor acquired numerous scholarship offers, initially committing to the hometown University of Pittsburgh to play basketball under coach Jamie Dixon. However, by his senior year his top interests were Ohio State, Penn State, Michigan, Oregon and West Virginia. Sports Illustrated called Pryor's announcement "the most anticipated signing day announcement in history."
Pryor originally intended to announce his decision on February 6, National Signing Day, but later changed his mind, stating he still had not decided among Michigan, Ohio State, Oregon, and Penn State. Following the Jeannette basketball team's state championship victory on March 15, Pryor stated he would make his college decision within one week. On March 19, 2008 Pryor announced at a press conference that he would attend Ohio State University.
Pryor saw limited action in the Buckeye's season opener against Youngstown State. He took more snaps against USC on September 13, 2008, completing 7 of 9 passes for 59 yards, as well as rushing for 40 yards on 11 carries.
On September 20, 2008, Pryor threw for four touchdowns (an Ohio State record for a freshman) and one interception in his first career start for Ohio State. Ohio State beat Troy 28–10. On October 4, 2008, Pryor ran for the winning touchdown against Wisconsin on an option play with running back Chris "Beanie" Wells. On October 25, 2008, in an Ohio State loss against Penn State Pryor threw for a career-high 226 yards, connecting on 16 of 25 passes. Against Illinois on November 15, 2008, Pryor had his first career 100-yard rushing day running for 110 yards and a touchdown. In the Fiesta Bowl he lined up at receiver and caught his first touchdown pass in college. Pryor led Ohio State to an 8–1 record as a starter in his freshman year; his only loss as a starter was against Penn State. (Todd Boeckman made the start in the Fiesta Bowl against Texas.) Following the 2008 Big Ten Conference football season, he was an honorable mention All-Big Ten Conference selection by the media and Big Ten Freshman of the Year by the coaches.
Before his sophomore year began he ran a 4.33 40-yard dash in a race against Ray Small and many others. He was the fastest Buckeye in 2009. In his sophomore year Pryor led the Buckeyes to another Big Ten Championship. After starting the season slow he eventually developed into a better passer, and went on to earn the 2010 Rose Bowl MVP trophy after leading Ohio State to a 26–17 victory over Oregon. Pryor had the best passing game of his career, and also rushed for 72 yards. Following the 2009 Big Ten Conference football season, he was an honorable mention All-Big Ten Conference selection by the media.
Ohio State began the 2010 season second in most polls and Pryor began the season as a favorite for numerous awards. On September 25, 2010, Pryor had a break-out game in a 73–20 win over Eastern Michigan. He had 6 total touchdowns, including one rushing and one receiving. Following the 2010 Big Ten Conference football season, he was an honorable mention All-Big Ten Conference selection by both the coaches and the media. He was edged out by Denard Robinson as the 2010 Big Ten Conference MVP as voted by the Big Ten coaches. They had the same number of first place votes.
On December 23, 2010, the NCAA ruled that Pryor and four of his teammates would be suspended for the first five games of the 2011 season, as a sanction for selling memorabilia. This suspension did not involve the controversial decision to allow Pryor and his teammates to participate in the University’s season-ending Sugar Bowl game on January 4, 2011.2007 Hall Trophy (U.S. Army Player of the Year)
2007 PARADE National Player of the Year and All-American
2008 Pete Dawkins Trophy (U.S. Army All-American Bowl MVP)
2008 U.S. Army All-American MVP
2008 Big Ten Freshman of the Year (coaches)
2008 All-Big Ten Honorable Mention (media)
2009 Tostitos Fiesta Bowl Sportsmanship Award
2009 Big Ten Preseason Player of the Year
2009 All-Big Ten Honorable Mention (media)
2010 Rose Bowl MVP
2010 All-Big Ten Honorable Mention (coaches and media)
2010 Big Ten MVP runner-up
2011 Miller-Digby Award (Vacated award due to NCAA sanctions)
On May 31, 2011, head coach Jim Tressel resigned. Multiple media outlets also reported that Pryor had been driving on a license that was suspended by the State of Ohio. He drove a Nissan 350Z to a team meeting and workout. ESPN reported that his suspension was to expire on August 18, 2011.
In a subsequent report, ESPN also alleged that Pryor made thousands of dollars autographing memorabilia for a local booster, a charge denied by Pryor's attorney.
On June 7, 2011, it was announced that Pryor had chosen to withdraw from the university.
On June 26, 2011, Pryor was banned from all contact with the university's athletic program and new incoming recruits. This caused him to become eligible for the NFL's Supplemental Draft.
Pryor held his Pro Day on August 20, 2011, in Hempfield Township, Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania, where representatives from 17 NFL teams were present, including the Oakland Raiders. As was widely anticipated, Pryor demonstrated excellent athleticism and speed for a 6'4½" athlete weighing in at 240 pounds. His 40-yard dash times were clocked from 4.32 to 4.54 seconds, a range of times considered extremely fast for an athlete of his height and weight. Some scouts noted that the turf he ran on was soft, and that he would have been even faster on a harder surface like those found in the NFL. His throwing wasn't as impressive, as he completed 27 of 39 passes for just under a 70% completion rate, with 4 of those passes being dropped by receivers.
The Oakland Raiders selected Pryor in the third round of the 2011 Supplemental Draft on August 22, 2011; he was the last pick longtime owner Al Davis made in his tenure with the Raiders, thus ending the Al Davis "speed era" including players, Bo Jackson, Darrius Heyward-Bey, and Cliff Branch among others. Three days later, Pryor and the Raiders agreed to a 4-year contract. Pryor served an NFL-mandated 5-game suspension at the beginning of the 2011 NFL season (the suspension being from the Ohio State scandal), but was still able to work out with the club. Pryor was reinstated the day following the team's win over the Houston Texans.
In a game against the Kansas City Chiefs on October 23, 2011, Pryor saw his first NFL action. He lined up at the wide receiver spot, motioned behind center and ran a quarterback sneak, although the play was nullified due to a false start penalty on Pryor.
Pryor sat most of the 2012 season, One of his only appearances was a 22-yard reception thrown by Carson Palmer in week 16 against the Carolina Panthers. Terrelle was named the starting quarterback in the season finale against the San Diego Chargers after season-long starting quarterback Carson Palmer went down with an injury the previous week. In his first start, Pryor threw for two touchdowns and rushed for another, but he also threw an interception and only completed 46% of his passes in a three-point loss.
Following Palmer's trade to the Arizona Cardinals, Pryor was expected to compete with newly acquired quarterbacks Matt Flynn and Tyler Wilson for the Raiders' starting job in 2013. Despite not being given the number 2 jersey at the beginning of his career by the then-coach Hue Jackson because it was formerly worn by JaMarcus Russell, he was able to switch with punter Marquette King and wear the number. On September 2, it was reported that Pryor would start in the season opener. In the first game against the Indianapolis Colts he broke the Raiders' rushing record for a quarterback with 13 carries for 112 yards. This Raiders record was previously held by Rich Gannon.
In Week 2, the Raiders played at home versus the Jacksonville Jaguars. The Raiders played ball control in the game rushing for over 150 yards and defeating the Jaguars 19–9. Pryor played well in the game completing 15 of 24 passes for 126 yards and no interceptions. He also added 50 yards rushing on 9 carries.
In Week 3, the Raiders played on the road against Denver and the high powered Bronco offense led by Peyton Manning and Wes Welker. Oakland trailed 17–0 before Pryor hit Denarius Moore for a 73-yard touchdown. Pryor was knocked out of the game in the second half after suffering a concussion but finished 19 for 28 for 281 yards. He also rushed for 36 yards on just 4 carries. Matt Flynn took over after Pryor left the game but the Raiders still lost 37–21.
In Week 4, Pryor was inactive versus the Washington Redskins. Flynn started the game but without the mobility of Pryor, the offense struggled and the Redskins prevailed over Oakland 24–14. This was the first game that the Raiders played since Pryor was named the starter giving the team a 0–1 record without their quarterback.
In Week 5, Pryor found himself once again at the helm and the Raiders responded against the San Diego Chargers. He threw two touchdowns in the first quarter and completed his first ten passes. Following an early interception against Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers, Pryor responded with a 44-yard touchdown strike to wideout Rod Streater. The second touchdown pass came on a 2-yard pass to wideout Denarius Moore, which gave Oakland a 14–0 lead. In the second quarter, Pryor helped guide to the Raiders to a field goal, which gave his team its first 17–0 lead at home since 2002. In the second half, both Pryor and the Raiders struggled as the Chargers came back to cut the lead to 24–17. Late in the fourth quarter, Pryor turned what looked to be an easy sack on third down into a 20-yard completion to Brice Butler, which led to a 50-yard field goal and sealed a 27–17 Raiders victory. As of this week, Pryor was 2–3 as a starter and 2–2 as a starter in 2013. His 135.7 passer rating versus San Diego marked the highest-rated game by a Raiders quarterback since Rich Gannon's 138.9 rating against the Tennessee Titans on September 29, 2002.
Pryor was sacked 10 times in a loss to Kansas City in week 6; he also threw 3 interceptions in the game, making it his worst game as a starter. He finished 18 of 34 for 216 yards and a touchdown pass to Denarius Moore.
In Week 8 against the Pittsburgh Steelers, Pryor opened the game with a 93-yard run for touchdown, the longest in NFL history for a quarterback. It was also the longest run of any player in Raiders history. The previous record for Oakland was a 92-yarder set by Bo Jackson on November 5, 1989. Pryor finished with 9 carries for 106 yards and 10 of 19 passing for just 88 yards, 2 touchdowns and 2 interceptions.
In Week 9 on November 10, Pryor was injured in a 24–20 loss to the New York Giants and was sidelined with a sprained MCL. Having had his passing production dip for four games and then being hampered by a right knee sprain limiting his movement in the pocket, in November 24 game against the Titans, he was activated to play, but was relegated to backup quarterback behind Matt McGloin.
On April 21, 2014, Pryor was traded to the Seattle Seahawks for a seventh round pick in the 2014 NFL Draft. He played in the preseason, but was released during the final roster cuts on August 29. After his release from the Seahawks, Pryor worked out for the Cincinnati Bengals, Philadelphia Eagles, New York Giants, and Washington Redskins, but did not sign a contract with any team.
On January 7, 2015, Pryor signed a one-year contract with the Kansas City Chiefs. He was released on May 5, 2015.
On May 10, 2015, Pryor signed with the Cincinnati Bengals. He was released on June 18, 2015.
The day after being cut by the Bengals, Pryor announced through his agent that he was open to switching his position to wide receiver.
On June 22, 2015, Pryor was claimed off waivers by the Cleveland Browns. On September 5, 2015, it was announced that Pryor had made the final 53-man squad for the Browns. On September 10, 2015, he was waived from the Browns. On December 2, 2015, he was re-signed after a season-ending injury to Josh McCown. He played in the last game of the season against the Pittsburgh Steelers as a wide receiver, recording one reception for 42 yards.
The Browns placed a $1.671 million tender on Pryor on March 7, 2016. At the start of the 2016 NFL season, Pryor was named a starter at wide receiver for the Browns. With Browns quarterbacks Robert Griffin III and Josh McCown inactive during a Week 3 contest against the Miami Dolphins, Pryor started as a receiver and took a few snaps at quarterback behind rookie Cody Kessler. He also had one play at safety at the end of the second half. Along with his 144 receiving yards, Pryor finished the loss with three completions for 35 yards, 21 rushing yards and scored his first rushing touchdown as a Brown. He was the first player in the NFL to have at least 120 receiving yards, 30 passing yards, and 20 rushing yards in a game since Frank Gifford did so for the New York Giants in 1959. On October 2, 2016, Pryor caught his first career touchdown on a nine-yard pass from Kessler. He finished the loss to the Redskins with five receptions for 46 receiving yards and one touchdown. During Week 6 against the Tennessee Titans, he would finish the game with a total of nine receptions for 75 yards and two touchdowns. Pryor finished the season with 77 receptions for 1,007 yards and four touchdowns. His 818 air yards ranked No. 7 among NFL wide receivers in 2016.
On March 10, 2017, Pryor signed a one-year, $8 million contract with the Washington Redskins.