As some of you know, I work in college athletics here in Southern California. The other day I was talking with one of our baseball coaches about Prior.
He said that a lot of people don't remember that Prior had arm problems (I think he said elbow) throughout his college years. However, since Prior only pitched once a week, plus a midweek bullpen throwing session, the USC staff was able to manage the problem and it never became a big issue for their program.
This certainly wasn't anything that was reported in the media (and isn't something that I could find on the web). It makes me wonder if scouts knew or cared about it. However, it certainly makes a lot of sense if this were the problem. Hidden behind the outstanding control, the giant calves, the repuation as the best collegiate pitcher since Tom Seaver, stood a guy who was as advertised, but who could really only throw once a week. He could have been overextended in 2003 and that might have shortened his career arc even further, but I am starting to wonder if this decline was inevitable.