In 2014 the Central Gwinnett (Ga.) football team reached the post-season for the first team in eight years. Led by four-star senior outside linebacker Adonis Thomas and four-star junior offensive tackle E.J. Price, the Black Knights achieved a 7-5 record against a tough docket of opponents.
“I feel like I had a good season this season.” Price told GoBlueWolverine.com. “It was very successful as a team, we made it to the playoffs for the first time since 2006 and we made it to the second round of the playoffs and I don’t know the last time our school did that.”
En route to reaching the playoffs Price and his teammates had quite a few remarkable moments, but there is one game that stands out in particular.
“Oh yeah, it would definitely be the round 1 playoff win,” said Price. “We went into the game as the number four seed and we played the top seed North Gwinnett. Every year for the last fifteen years they’ve made it deep in the playoffs and won state championships. They’ve been one of those dominant teams. For us to pull that upset, for us to go in and get that upset… seeing the time run off the clock and seeing their fans leaving the stadium early, which was their home stadium. That’s one of the most memorable moments I’ve had in a long time.”
During such an eventful season, recruiting wasn’t top priority for Price. Despite that, the 6’6”, 285 lb. prospect was still been hearing from a bevy of the nation’s top college football programs. Now he holds over 25 offers from Power Five schools.
“It’s been crazy,” said Price. “I’m going into my senior season and a lot of players are committed to their schools for the class of 2015, so coaches have really been focused on them a lot, but I’ve been hearing from a lot of schools here and there. Schools like South Carolina, they will send me some [mail]. Auburn, Florida State, Georgia—they always stay in the loop.
“I actually recently picked up an offer a month and a half ago, two months ago from USC. They offered me and Chuma [Edoga]. He goes to McEachern down here. He’s another top offensive lineman. He’s committed there and I think we are the only two offensive linemen they have offered in the state. They made it clear that they are very interested in me. Cal also came into the picture. Of course I have the Big Ten schools like Nebraska, Wisconsin, Michigan State, Michigan, Ohio State, they’re all hitting me up and they’re known for putting out O-Lineman so that’s kind of been grabbing my interests a lot.”
In the past, Price has openly stated that he has high interest in Michigan as a native of the Great Lakes State. With that in mind, he excitedly jumped into discussion about his reaction to the new Wolverine coaching hires.
“I know this is what you’ve been wondering about with Jim Harbaugh getting that new job up there and also the defensive coordinator coming up from Florida, Durkin,” said Price. “I’m very impressed with some of the coaching changes they have made at Michigan. Even before these coaching changes were made I always made it known I’m from Michigan and that’s where my roots are from. I’m from Grand Rapids. A lot of people say ‘Georgia’s top offensive lineman’ and I try to tell them not to think just because I’m down south means that I’m guaranteed SEC.”
With a host of big time programs offering Price a scholarship, a list of top schools has not been developed at this time. That will come when Price gets further along in the recruiting process, likely in his senior year.
“I really haven’t decided yet and I’ll decide more when I take those official visits and things like that,” said Price. “The Big Ten, they’re up there with the Georgias and the Auburns. They’re in contention just like the SEC. Their goal is putting lineman out and there’s nothing the SEC can do that the Big Ten can’t. My options are very open. I have a lot of interest, I’m definitely watching what’s going on in Ann Arbor.”
Like many across the country, Price was also monitoring the head coaching situation at Michigan while the Wolverines were without a staff for about a month.
“Actually I was just a spectator like everyone else watching it, leading up to it,” said Price. “[Harbaugh] played quarterback at Michigan. He’s a Michigan man. His record speaks for itself. He coached the 49ers, took them to the Super Bowl and he’s an amazing coach. That just speaks for itself. I was excited just as a Michigan fan because that’s the thing I go from. I’m a Michigan fan outside of my recruitment, so I was excited just from that perspective. Being in the position that I’m in with Michigan being on of my options, I was very excited.
Price says he has not yet heard from Michigan, but he is anxiously waiting for when that time does come.
“I’ve been keeping my ear out for Michigan and I understand they have a lot of things going on there that they’re trying to get set in,” said Price. “It’s the dead period right now but I wouldn’t be surprised if Michigan came down here to pay me a visit. I haven’t heard from them, but I definitely will be looking out for them.
“With that new hire it would be a great opportunity just to hear from him. His record speaks for himself. He’s been to Super Bowls and stuff like that. Just being able to have a conversation with him would be great, but I look forward to him recruiting me. I hope Michigan is as interested in me as they were when Brady Hoke was the coach.”
“Actually [D.J. Durkin] had come to Central Gwinnette to see Adonis Thomas,” said Price. “He was committed to Florida for a long time. They came up here to recruit him and Durkin is actually the one who offered me from Florida. I had very few interactions with him because I was a sophomore, but he made it clear to my head coach that they were interested in me when he was at Florida. I’m sure that with him going up to Michigan, hopefully he’ll put in a good word for me as well.”
Relationships are important to Price in his recruitment, but another important factor to the four-star is of the academic variety.
“A lot of people have asked me what I want to major in and I wasn’t sure for a long time but I think I’m leaning more towards law and becoming a lawyer,” said Price. “I understand that Michigan has a great law school and that will be a major factor in how I choose my college. Academics will take you a long ways while Football is only a small part of my life. I’m looking for a school that can support me with my education. I’m looking for a place with a positive atmosphere.”