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Tracking the Stars of the Future

Football Recruiting Report
Wednesday, July 23, 2008

By Sammy Batten

THUMBNAILS:  2006  •  2007  •  2008  •  2009

Mom's motivation pays off for Price

By Sammy Batten
All rights reserved.

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Thanks to a mother who wouldn’t let him walk away from football, Mike Price will be heading to East Carolina University on a football scholarship in 2009.

A do-it-all wide receiver from New Bern, Price became the ninth high school player to make a verbal commitment to ECU’s recruiting Class of ’09 on July 8. He made the decision just over two weeks after receiving a surprise scholarship offer from the Pirates after attending a one-day camp in Greenville.

“I didn’t think it (scholarship) was going to come so soon,’’ Price said. “I thought I’d have to wait until the (2008) season started.

“But I had been down there on a couple of (unofficial) visits. I walked around campus, talked to the coaches and got to know the program a little bit. I just liked everything about it.

“Plus, it’s close to home. It won’t be a lot of work for me to get home.’’

And it won’t be a lot of work for his mother, Pamela Gaylor, to get to Greenville.

Gaylor is not only Price’s biggest fan, she’s also the one responsible for him having a football career.

You see, Price’s first experience with tackle football wasn’t pleasant. He enjoyed playing flag football in the Pop Warner program since he was 6. But around age 8, Price got his first taste of tackle football.

And he didn’t like it.

On his very first play as a running back with the New Bern Braves, Price was dealt a blow that tested his resolve.

“I got hit pretty hard on my first play,’’ Price said. “It kind of knocked the wind out of me a little bit. I wasn’t used to that and it scared me.

“I left the field and went right into the stands to my mother. I told her I didn’t want to play anymore. But she wouldn’t let me quit. She made me go back out there right then.’’

Price hasn’t looked back since.

After spending two seasons on the New Bern junior varsity – he led them to an unbeaten season as a sophomore – Price was one of the few newcomers to earn a starting job on the Bears’ senior-laden 2007 team.

He filled a number of roles for New Bern, which ended Independence’s seven-year reign as state 4-AA champion with a 28-17 triumph in the state finals.

“He’s not only our wideout, he’s our punter, he plays defensive back and sometimes we put him in motion and hand the football to him,’’ New Bern coach Bobby Curlings said. “I think he was second or third on our team in rushing last season. He’s on the field all of the time.’’

Price’s biggest plays came at wide receiver where he caught 33 passes for 796 yards (24-yard per catch average) and six touchdowns. The performance earned him a spot on the New Bern Sun Journal’s All-Area team.

But the highlight of Price’s season came in the state finals when he made a play that sparked a New Bern turnaround that wiped out a 14-0 deficit.

“He made a big catch over their big-time defensive back,’’ Curlings said. “It was a big play that kind of breathed some life back into our offense and it let everyone know we were OK.’’

Price wound up with 104 yards receiving and scored the go-ahead touchdown in the second half on a 37-yard catch.

“That was a great day because we were underdogs,’’ Price said. “We had lost to them three times in the past. We just had to let go of that and focus on that game. We were mentally ready.’’

East Carolina began contacting Price last spring while he was competing for the New Bern track and field squad. He’s a state champion in the long jump, having won the event at the 2008 N.C. High School Athletic Association Indoor Championships with a career-best leap of 23 feet, 07.25 inches.

Catching a football, however, is Price’s forte.

“I’m more of a route runner as a receiver,’’ Price said. “I’m quick, but my routes are precise and that’s how I get open.

“I think I kind of play like Dwayne Jarrett was in college. That’s who I kind of look up to.’’

Jarrett was an All-American at Southern Cal and now plays for the NFL’s Carolina Panthers.

The Pirates were the first school to offer Price, but South Carolina and Virginia Tech were also showing interest.

Curlings believes ECU has made a solid addition to its program in Price.

“He’s just a well-rounded young man with good grades and a good personality,’’ Curlings said. “He is everything you want in somebody to look to as a role model for other players.’’

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07/23/2008 01:57:12 AM


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