By John Boyle Herald Writer
SEATTLE — Even after a record-setting career at the University of Washington that saw him throw a school-record 75 touchdown passes, Keith Price expects he’ll have to do things the hard way.
And as he threw passes for NFL scouts at the UW’s pro day Wednesday, wearing a hat that said in big block letters, “DON’T DOUBT ME,” Price was continuing the journey he absolutely believes will be successful, even if it isn’t easy.
Price thought he’d get a chance to show off his talents at the NFL scouting combine in Indianapolis, but that invitation never came, so instead this workout in Washington’s Dempsey Indoor facility was his biggest audition, with scouts from at least 16 NFL teams on hand as well as Seattle Seahawks coach Pete Carroll and general manager John Schneider.
The consensus now on Price is that he’s a late-round pick, at best, and perhaps a player who will have to fight for a roster spot as an undrafted free agent. And sure, Price would love to be picked earlier, but he’s also more than prepared to do things the hard way. Again.
“I’m willing to do whatever it takes,” Price said. “I have a chip on my shoulder, I’m hungry, and whatever team gets me, they’re going to get a steal.”
That chip on Price’s shoulder didn’t evolve when he was left out of January’s combine, though that did add to it a bit. As Price put it, “Even when I was a kid, I was always having to prove myself.”
When Price was putting up big numbers at St. John Bosco High School, he was overshadowed by future USC star Matt Barkley, who played for rival Mater Dei. And when Price came to Washington, he not only had to replace Jake Locker, a local legend, he first had to beat out Nick Montana, the son of a fairly well-known NFL quarterback named Joe, just to earn that starting job.
“And now, after all my production here, I don’t get invited to the combine. I have to prove myself all over again,” Price said. “… I was a bit (displeased) about (the combine snub), but there’s nothing I could do, and I’ve continued my journey. It’s been a stressful one, but I’m glad I’m going through it.”
Price’s teammates who were invited to January’s combine were equally surprised their quarterback wasn’t there with them.
“Whatever the rankings are for the quarterbacks that get to go, I think they were wrong,” said tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins, who did not work out Wednesday because he is still recovering from foot surgery.
Added running back Bishop Sankey: “I was really surprised, I’m not going to lie. At first I was a little taken aback by it, just because I know what he’s done here at the university and how great of a quarterback he is. I think it added a chip on his shoulder and he wanted to come out here and prove that he is a capable quarterback.”
Price was solid in his workout, completing all but a few of the roughly 50 passes he threw, including an impressive 65-yard bomb to Kevin Smith early on in the session. Price hoped that throw and several others would quiet the criticism of his arm strength, something he says has never actually been an issue. As Price put it, “I can throw the rock pretty good,” but he favors throwing a more catchable ball to velocity for velocity’s sake, which is perhaps how he got the weak arm reputation.
But, Price says, “If I need to zip something through the window, I’ve shown that on film.”
Price also showed it on the field Wednesday, with Carroll saying, “He threw the ball great. He threw it about 65 (yards), that’s far enough.”
Impressive as it was, Price’s pro day performance is just a small part of the evaluation process that includes plenty of tape from his prolific college career, but not a workout at the combine. Price knows he may have to wait to hear his name called in the draft, and that it may not be called at all, but he’s certain that, given the chance, he’ll once again be able to prove his doubters wrong.
“I’m already self-motivated, and the combine snub was just another thing to put fuel on the fire,” he said. “But I play with that chip on my shoulder anyway. Regardless of if I was invited or not, I would have had that same chip of wanting to prove myself, and I thought I did that today.”
Herald Writer John Boyle: firstname.lastname@example.org.