After throwing a 2-yard touchdown pass to Jaydon Mickens that helped Washington close the gap in the second quarter against UCLA a few weeks ago, Keith Price was greeted by cheers when he returned to the sideline.
As the Huskies sent the kickoff team onto the field, the quarterback settled into a spot on the sideline. When an exuberant Marcus Peters jogged by shouting “Let’s go!” Price flashed his trademark smile at the redshirt freshman cornerback.
“I like the way you think,” Price said. “I like your energy.”
The Huskies still trailed, but Price wasn’t worried. He has been that way all season. Success and disappointment, injury and victory, Price has smiled his way through his senior season.
As I stood a few steps behind Price on the Rose Bowl sideline, I realized how much Price has meant to the program throughout his career.
In three seasons as a starter, the Huskies have been bowl eligible each year. He has his share of school records – he became the program’s career leader in touchdown passes (73) earlier this year and continues to climb career charts.
It hasn’t always been easy but, when he jogs out of the Husky Stadium tunnel for one final home game this week, it is safe to say he has already cemented his place among some of the top passers to put on a purple and gold uniform.
With one home game left, it is time to thank the quarterback – and the rest of the seniors – for their contributions to Washington’s football program.
“I am so proud of this group of men, and the investment they have made in their futures and our program,” Washington coach Steve Sarkisian said Wednesday. “They’re leaving our program in a better place than they found it, and that is a testament to their hard work. They will leave here with a degree from the University of Washington, and a lot to be proud of.”
No matter what happens against Washington State in the Apple Cup, Sarkisian is right. Price has plenty to be proud of.
He should be proud of the numbers. He should proud of the leader he has become. He should be proud of the way he has carried himself on the field.
When Price suffered a shoulder injury late in the first half against UCLA, he still had a smile on his face as he supported redshirt freshman Cyler Miles.
That smile was still visible last week, while he watched the Huskies’ lopsided victory over Oregon State. And that smile was there as he rallied the Huskies against Stanford, a comeback that fell just short.
Price’s presence and personality are pivotal to this Washington team. His graduation will signal a changing of the guard. He is leaving the program better than he found it.
It has been a privilege watching Price lead this team throughout the season, from the locker room to the team hotel the night before each game. And, for that, it is time to say thank you.
Thank you for the wins. Thank you for the leadership. Thank you for the memories.