Deals Reunite Price, Ducre, Coons With NFL Dawgs
By Gregg Bell
UW Athletics Director of Writing
SEATTLE – More than records, more than buzz, all Keith Price ever wanted since he left his home on the south side of Los Angeles was a chance.
He got one in January 2009 when Steve Sarkisian called on his first day as Washington’s coach and reaffirmed the Huskies’ commitment to the overlooked quarterback from Compton.
Five years and 11 UW passing records later, Price got another chance Saturday night from the NFL -- the league that didn’t invite him to its rookie, pre-draft combine this winter.
Price agreed to a free-agent contract with the Super Bowl-champion Seattle Seahawks soon after the seventh and final round of the NFL draft ended. He will begin his professional career on Friday when the Seahawks start a three-day minicamp for their rookies at the team's Virginia Mason Athletic Center in Renton.
Price worked out there last month with other Seattle-area NFL prospects.
"All I need is my foot in the door and I'll take care of the rest," he told reporters that day.
Three other Huskies got free-agent deals following the weekend's draft: cornerback Greg Ducre with the San Diego Chargers; wide receiver Kevin Smith with the Arizona Cardinals; and Travis Coons with Tennessee.
Coons is entering a two-man battle for the place-kicking job with the Titans. Friday in the draft's second round Tennessee chose Huskies record-breaking running back Bishop Sankey moments after the Tampa Bay Buccaneers selected Austin Seferian-Jenkins, the 2013 John Mackey Award winner as the nation's top college tight end.
This was the fourth NFL draft in five years the Huskies had two players selected.
Incidentally -- and comfortably -- all the newest NFL Huskies are going to teams on which Dawgs already play.
It's a different situation and position, but Price is starting down the same, undrafted free-agent path his former top target at UW, Jermaine Kearse, used three years ago to eventually catch a touchdown pass in February's Super Bowl.
"To all who were undrafted, it's not over. Don't believe the lie that you can't still make your dreams come true and be successful," Kearse tweeted over the weekend.
Price got more advice throughout his last two seasons at Washington from Russell Wilson. Wilson came to Price's 2013 opener last August against Boise State plus his September game against Arizona in new Husky Stadium.
Now they are both Seahawks quarterbacks.
"Being a local kid, we've seen him for years," Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said Saturday of Price. "We feel very, very comfortable with him. We know that he's got a big upside.
"He seemed to fit in really well with our coaches. We just felt really comfortable and this we can give him a real good shot at it."
"It" is a backup position behind Wilson. Seattle brought back veteran QB Tavaris Jackson this offseason and last month traded with Oakland for former Ohio State star Terrelle Pryor. Seattle also has B.J. Daniels on the roster.
Price likely will have to beat out two of those three to land a roster spot with the Seahawks this season; most NFL teams carry three quarterbacks on their 53-man rosters during the regular season.
Ducre impressed scouts with zooming time of 4.32 seconds in the 40-yard dash in March across the Dempsey Indoor turf at UW's Pro Day. The cornerback moonlighted last year on the Huskies' indoor track team in the 60-yard dash, and his speed has the Chargers intrigued.
Ducre is already being welcomed to San Diego by Donald Butler. The former Husky and starter for the Chargers the last three seasons at inside linebacker tweeted Saturday: "My lil son and fellow husky @GDucre18 LETS GO!! #BoltUp #UDUB".
Coons is joining a Titans/"Huskies South" team that has Jake Locker and now Sankey. The Titans are seeking a new kicker to replace Rob Bironas. Coons was 15 of 16 on field goals last season and 24 for 30 in his two years with the Huskies after he transferred from Mount San Antonio junior college in California. He was also a second-team all-Pac-12 punter.
Coons will compete with Maikon Bonani for the Titans' kicking job. Bonani, a Brazilian who kicked at South Florida, was in Tennessee's training camp last year until the last week of August.
The outgoing Smith, one of the most popular Huskies in recent seasons after returning from a knee injury in the days leading up to the 2011 Alamo Bowl, is going to a Cardinals team that doesn't have any other former Washington players on its current roster. Smith has already been assigned jersey number 18 with Arizona in advance of his first rookie minicamp.