SEATTLE – Keith Price’s backwards 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, all-caps, in white lettering.
Price wore the hat throughout his throwing session at Washington’s Pro Day on Wednesday afternoon at the Dempsey Indoor, where 15 former UW players gathered to workout 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 attraction.
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He lived up to the billing. Price made about 45 throws, unofficially, and completed all but five – two were dropped – while drawing praise for an early deep ball that he dropped nicely into the hands of 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 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 in early Februray.
Then he didn’t. Nineteen other quarterbacks did.
“I was in Carlsbad training with Blake Bortles and Brett Smith, 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 his arm strength and ability to stay healthy.
Rob Rang, an analyst for NFLDrafScout.com, said prior to 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’d 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 Matt Barkley (in California) 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 waiting to be cleared
Seferian-Jenkins, who underwent foot surgery in February, said he hopes to be medically cleared on April 26. The NFL draft begins May 8.
The FoxIsland native said he has visits scheduled with eight NFL teams, and that he’s maintained his weight of 263 pounds despite not being able to run following surgery.
NOTES: Sankey participated in running-back position drills, but 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. … Kevin Smith, Antavius Sims, Jonathan Amosa and James Johnson caught passes from Price, too. Other participants included K Travis Coons, DB Greg Ducre, S Sean Parker, DL Sione Potoa’e, LB Thomas Tutogi, DB Tre Watson and FB Dorson Boyce. … Seahawks coach Pete Carroll and general manager John Schneider were in attendance. So were UW coach Chris Petersen, a couple UW assistants and several current players, including suspended quarterback Cyler Miles.
Christian Caple can be reached at email@example.com. Twitter: @ChristianCaple