Back Price Continues to Produce

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Price Continues to Produce

By Matt Osborne
SouthernPigskin.com
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Given his improvements from last season’s All-ACC showing, Ejuan Price could be well on his way to becoming Pittsburgh’s first All-American along the defensive front since Aaron Donald.

Five games into the 2016 college football season, it may come as a surprise to some that the Pittsburgh Panthers would have to, in retrospect, be considered one of the major winners of this year’s National Signing Day.

Such a statement, however, is not as much an indication of the Panthers’ efforts on the recruiting trail as it is a reflection on the fact that National Signing Day just happened to be the day that the program received news that defensive end Ejuan Price was being granted a sixth-year of collegiate eligibility by the NCAA.

The news was particularly exciting given the fact that the granting of Price’s sixth year came on the heels of his first-team All-ACC 2015 campaign. After playing in just six games in the previous three seasons, Price finished the year with 11.5 sacks, good for third in the conference behind Clemson defenders Shaq Lawson and Kevin Dodd, both of whom played two more games than Price.

And as the Panthers prepare for an important Coastal Division showdown against Georgia Tech this Saturday, it is safe to say that Price has made the most of his opportunity to do one final lap in college football.

Price, who hails from Rankin, Pennsylvania, currently leads the country with 7.5 sacks. Perhaps more impressively, he has registered a sack in all five contests of the season, demonstrating incredible consistency in creating problems in opposing backfields.

Listed on the official Pittsburgh website as 6-0, 255 pounds, Price has had to overcome a perceived lack of ideal measurable traits in order to become one of the most feared pass rushers in the sport. He has learned to utilize his quickness and leverage to gain an advantage over bulkier defenders, and says that he spends time watching film on shorter NFL defensive ends, such as Elvis Dumervil, in order to improve his technique.

Playing against Georgia Tech’s spread option attack this weekend, Price undoubtedly will not have as many opportunities to add to his nation-leading sack total on Saturday.

That does not mean, however that he will not have plenty of chances to make a dramatic impact on the contest.

As Georgia Tech Paul Johnson generally likes to make the other team’s best defensive lineman the read key on the majority of option plays, it is very likely that Price will intentionally not be blocked on numerous occasions this weekend. The Yellow Jackets’ hope is that quarterback Justin Thomas will be able to use intellect and deception in order to keep Price from making many plays up front.

But even with Georgia Tech’s likely approach, Price will certainly be able to cause havoc for the Yellow Jackets at the point of attack.

And as the most veteran player on the Pittsburgh defense, the Panthers will be relying upon their best defensive player to turn in his sixth straight outstanding performance of the 2016 campaign to lead them to a critical victory.

Up to this point, it has not been a surprise to see Price making impact plays for the Panthers defense in 2016.

Given his improvements from last season’s All-ACC showing, though, Price could be well on his way to becoming Pittsburgh’s first All-American along the defensive front since Aaron Donald.

Matt Osborne - Matt Osborne currently serves as the director of recruiting and lead editor for Southern Pigskin. His work has been published in a number of national publications, including USA Today. Although he loves all levels of football, Matt's number one joy in his life is his relationship with Jesus Christ. Follow Matt on Twitter: @MattOsborne200. For media requests, please email Matt at matt@southernpigskin.com.