Price powers past doubts, gets NFL shot

Ryan Wood
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Colorado State Rams running back Izzy Matthews (35) is stopped by University of Texas-San Antonio Roadrunners defenders Nate Gaines (11), Michael Edwuagu (8) and Brian Price (91) during a Sept. 26, 2015 game at the Alamodome.

He doesn’t hold a grudge, but Brian Price won’t forget. The doubts ran through his mind Sunday afternoon, memories that fueled him for years.

In high school, Price was told he would never make anything of his life. He was called soft. Twice named an all-state defensive tackle, the Lafayette, Ind. was overlooked by the Division I school in his backyard.

No, Purdue never recruited him. When Price finished his senior season, his only college football scholarship offer was Texas Southern. He chose junior college instead.

“I really couldn’t say I held a personal grudge toward those people or person,” Price said. “I really just used it to harness that negative energy to do something good, something positive. I really think that got me to where I am today.”

Where he’s headed this week is Green Bay.

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Soon after the seventh and final round of this year’s NFL draft ended Saturday evening, Price signed with the Packers as an undrafted free agent. He starts rookie orientation Thursday with a franchise known for giving undrafted players a fair shot to develop on the practice squad, if not the 53-man roster.

The Packers entered this week’s draft with 62 players on their roster. They added seven more over three days, still leaving them well short of the maximum 90 roster spots. So general manager Ted Thompson got busy Saturday night. Price was one of 17 undrafted players the Packers signed to free-agent contracts, setting their roster at 86.

“It’s definitely going to be a very competitive 90-man roster,” coach Mike McCarthy said. “At the end of the day, that’s my true focus. The process is still going on, and we need as many as we can to keep them competitive.”

He wasn’t drafted, but Price had no shortage of interest as the seventh round wound down. The 6-foot-3, 325-pound University of Texas at San Antonio nose tackle drew interest from 27 teams after the draft, agent Daniel MacNeil said. The Packers made the strongest push.

Thompson’s reputation for signing undrafted players to the 53-man roster helped. If Price survives final cuts, he’ll join defensive end Mike Pennel as undrafted defensive linemen on the Packers' roster.

“They have a good reputation,” Price said, “of developing guys. Getting them through the free-agency category, and making them an NFL player. Which is what I’d like to develop into. Whether it be on or off the field, I’ve really heard good things about that situation. So I thought that would be a great opportunity for me.”

Price took a long, winding path to get his chance in the NFL. Price played one season at Allan Hancock Junior College in Santa Maria, Calif., and told his father he’d sign the first FBS offer he got.

It came from UTSA, a startup program that joined Conference USA before the 2013 season. Price had 81 tackles, six tackles for loss and three sacks over the past three seasons. He said his best position is nose tackle, consuming blockers so linebackers behind him can make plays.

“I have a power game,” Price said. “When I go out bull rushing, I like to impose my will to my opponent. I really like to put fear into a man’s eyes in front of me, you know. The game of football is a brutal sport.”

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Price isn’t exclusively power. With a 5.10-second, 40-yard dash, he has some quickness on the interior. It didn’t result in many sacks, but Price held his own against bigger schools.

He said the moment this NFL dream became realistic was earlier last season, when UTSA hosted Kansas State. Price had five tackles and one sack against the Wildcats. When he watched the film, Price said, he saw himself consistently beating Big 12 offensive linemen. An idea sparked.

The doubts followed Price all his life, but there was something else. His father always told him he would be a professional football player, Price said. Now, he gets to prove his father right — and so many people wrong.

“I always had good film against the big-conference schools,” Price said, “but it just became real to me at that point being a senior and giving consistent, good play against those good teams. After that (Kansas State) game, I just was watching film, and I thought, ‘Yeah, I had a really good game.’ I said to myself I could pursue the next level.

“After I realized that, I knew what my dad told me was right all along. Now, I’m here.”

2016 Packers undrafted free agent signings

Geronimo Allison, WR Illinois

Devonte Robinson, WR, Utah State

David Grinnage, TE, North Carolina State

Josh James, T, Carroll (Mont.)

Joe Callahan, QB, Wesley (Delaware)

Brandon Burns, RB, Troy

Don Jackson, RB, Nevada

Tyler Kuder, NT, Idaho State

Brian Price, NT, Texas-San Antonio

Beniquez Brown, ILB, Mississippi State

Manoa Pikula, ILB, Brigham Young

Reggie Gilbert, OLB, Arizona

Brandon Gatewood, CB, Alcorn State

Josh Hawkins, CB, East Carolina

Randall Jette, CB, Massachusetts

Kentrell Brice, S, Louisiana Tech

Peter Mortell, P, Minnesota and follow him on Twitter @ByRyanWood

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