Ex-Huskies QB Keith Price motivated by combine snub

Staff writerApril 2, 2014 

Keith Price’s backward hat is emblazoned with a specific instruction, though the former Washington Huskies quarterback likely sees it more as a message of caution.

“Don’t Doubt Me,” the black cap screams in all-caps white lettering.

Price wore the hat throughout his throwing session at Washington’s pro day Wednesday afternoon at the Dempsey Indoor facility, where 15 former UW players gathered to work out for the 20 or so NFL scouts in attendance.

But with tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins still sidelined by a stress fracture in his foot, and with running back Bishop Sankey letting most of his NFL Scouting Combine numbers speak for themselves, Price and his scripted set of passes were the main attractions.

He lived up to the billing. Price made about 45 throws and completed all but five — two were dropped — while drawing praise for an early deep ball he threw to wide receiver Kevin Smith for about a 65-yard completion.

Afterward, the 6-foot-1, 202-pound native of Compton, Calif., said he most wanted to prove “just my arm strength and ball placement. I think people look at my frame — a lot of time I’m not going deep and testing my arm strength — but I can throw the ball. I think I have a strong arm. I’m confident in myself, and I’m confident in my abilities.”

And he’s not shy about telling you that, yes, he was miffed by his exclusion from the NFL Scouting Combine.

Price, who has been working out in Carlsbad, Calif., with his personal coach, Steve Calhoun, said “there was no doubt in my mind I was going” to receive a combine invitation.

Then he didn’t. Nineteen other quarterbacks did.

“I was in Carlsbad training with (Central Florida quarterback) Blake Bortles and (Wyoming QB) Brett Smith, Arizona running back) Ka’Deem Carey, guys like that,” Price said.

“All those guys are getting ready to go to the combine, and I’m the only one stuck at the facility, you know what I mean? I was a bit pissed about it. But it was nothing I could do, and I continued my journey. It’s been a stressful one. But I’m glad I’m going through it.”

The combine snub surprised his teammates, too.

“I was really surprised, I’m not going to lie,” said Sankey, who caught a few passes from Price on Wednesday. “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.”

Not appearing at the combine meant pro day was that much more important for Price, who is projected by most draft analysts as a late-round or undrafted prospect.

He’s shorter than most NFL quarterbacks, and despite completing 64 percent of his passes for 8,919 yards, 75 touchdowns and 30 interceptions during his UW career, some have questioned Price’s arm strength and ability to stay healthy.

Rob Rang, an analyst for NFLDraftScout.com, said before Price’s workout that UW’s shift to an up-tempo offense last season might have showcased the skills that could make Price valuable.

“He obviously had an impressive supporting cast at the skill positions — running back, tight end, wide receiver — but the offensive line has been an issue,” Rang said. “I think that was one of the reasons (former UW coach Steve) Sarkisian decided to go with the quick hitting attack. You needed (to use) Price’s intelligence and accuracy and his mobility to his advantage.

“I think they saw last year what he could do, and there’s a number of clubs that (could) use that.”

Price hopes at least one NFL team agrees. He would like to add another chapter to his self-described journey of told-you-so.

“Ever since I can imagine, even when I was a kid, I was always having to prove myself,” Price said. “In high school we had (current Philadelphia Eagles backup and former USC QB) Matt Barkley (in his league in high school), and he took all the shine, and I didn’t really get any publicity. And I don’t do it for publicity; I do it for love of the game.

“When I came here, they had Nick Montana jerseys being sold before he even stepped foot on campus. Had to prove myself again. And now, after all my production here, I don’t get invited to the combine.

“I have to prove myself all over again.”

ASJ WAITS TO BE CLEARED

Seferian-Jenkins, who underwent foot surgery in February, said he hopes to be medically cleared April 26. The NFL draft begins May 8.

The Gig Harbor High School graduate said he has visits scheduled with eight NFL teams, and that he has maintained his weight of 263 pounds despite not being able to run after surgery.

NOTES

Sankey participated in running-back position drills, but he ran only the 60-yard shuttle after posting an impressive 40-yard dash time at the combine. He was mostly focused on proving himself as a pass-catcher during Price’s throwing session, which he said went well. ... Smith, Antavius Sims, Jonathan Amosa and James Johnson caught passes from Price, too. Other participants included kicker Travis Coons, defensive back Greg Ducre, safety Sean Parker, defensive lineman Sione Potoa’e from Lakes High School, linebacker Thomas Tutogi, defensive back Tre Watson and fullback Dorson Boyce (from the Class of 2011) ... Seahawks coach Pete Carroll and general manager John Schneider were in attendance. So were Huskies coach Chris Petersen, a couple of UW assistants and several current players, including suspended quarterback Cyler Miles.

christian.caple@thenewstribune.com
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