Closing It Out

ARLINGTON, Texas - Jermiah Price says he wasn't necessarily looking at Oklahoma State when he was playing at Jones County Junior College in Mississippi. It was more like OSU found the Collins native and convinced him Stillwater was the place to be.

"Coach (Joe) Wickline and Coach (Mike) Gundy, they came and found me," said the 6-foot-1, 268-pound senior defensive end. "Once I went on my visit (to OSU), I had fun with the guys and enjoyed everything. So that's the place I chose."

Good thing for the Cowboys. Price has been his team's best pass rusher the past two seasons. He missed two games early in the 2009 season with injury but still recorded 21 tackles, five for loss, and had two sacks. He actually had his best statistical game against Oklahoma in the regular season finale, a 27-0 loss to the Sooners. In that one he had four tackles, a tackle for loss, and a blocked field goal.

Price is an athletic defensive end with the skills to get the job done. He was an all-state player for Jones in the junior college ranks with 10 sacks and 52 tackles as a sophomore. He played in the Mississippi-Alabama All-Star Game out of Collins High School.

Now he wraps up his collegiate career against a team from his home state. One tough task he and the OSU defense faces is corraling Dexter McCluster.

"He presents a lot of challenges," Price said. "He can hurt you many different ways. They have the Wild Rebel. He can catch screen passes. He can catch long balls. He can do so many things. Our defense honestly believes we can contain him if we hit him early. If you let him get going, it's going to be a problem. But if you hit him and hit him early, we'll be OK."

But Price knows the Rebel offense is more than just the senior speedster.

"They run the power out of like six or seven different formations," he said. "They run the lead. Then they have one pretty good receiver that (Jevan) Snead loves to throw to. If Snead gets going early, we'll also be in trouble. If we can contain those two guys, then we'll be in pretty good shape."

Ole Miss' offense with a fullback involved presents, somewhat surprisingly, something the Cowboys haven't faced all season.

"It changes things a lot for the defensive end and the linebackers," Price said of the fullback. "We haven't seen a fullback all year, and you try to spill the fullback and spill him to the right person. If you don't then you'll have a problem. It's going to be a great challenge to get in there and get the right fits. Hopefully everybody else fits up right also."

Price likes the preparation the OSU coaching staff has done for the Cotton Bowl. The Cowboys' scout team has also provided much needed work for the first and second units.

"Our coaches have made a great script for practice every day," he said. "They come out and they pretty much get us ready for any play Ole Miss tries to run against us. We honestly believe we have one of the best scout teams in the nation. They come with their best effort every day. One of our fullbacks (Jerrod Monroe) is a pretty healthy guy. He's about 250 and brings all 250, too. We're getting a pretty good picture of it, but it's still not going to be Ole Miss' style of football. But we're still getting the point."

Price also says first-year defensive coordinator Bill Young will again have his troops ready for whatever the Rebels throw at them offensively.

"Coach Young has brought a lot to the table," Price said of the 40-year coaching veteran, an OSU alum, who came to Stillwater this season after serving as defensive coordinator at Miami (Fla.). "He has players who want to play for him. He makes it fun. He makes you want to play. He doesn't put you down and actually picks you up and makes you play better."

Which is the hope for Price and the Cowboy defenders against Ole Miss on Saturday.

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