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Football: Price following in Elflein’s footsteps while fulfilling promise to late grandfather

OSU redshirt junior guard Billy Price arrives in Columbus for spring drills. Credit: Jacob Myers | Assistant Sports Editor

All season long, Ohio State redshirt junior guard Billy Price proved to be a man of brute strength and character. And now, nearly four years after he signed his name to don the scarlet and gray, Price will finish a full college career in Columbus in 2017.

Coming from Austintown Fitch High School, Price was recruited heavily across the nation, receiving offers from OSU, Michigan, Arizona and even Southern Methodist University. In the end, Price decided to stay in his home state.

“I was just really comfortable with Ohio State,” he said to The Columbus Dispatch after committing. “The academics are really strong, and my family is very comfortable with coach Meyer and his staff. I got all the questions I had about Ohio State answered, and it was finally time.”

That comfort level has remained strong, as Price developed into one of the leaders on the OSU offensive front after switching from defensive tackle to the offensive side of the ball. Having mentors like Taylor Decker and Pat Elflein molded Price into the player he is today.

And now, with his final season of eligibility on the way, Price has decided to remain a Buckeye, passing up on a chance to play on Sundays in the NL.

“I’m coming back,” he said after the Fiesta Bowl. “I’m going to end up playing center. I’m going to lead the team, myself, Jamarco (Jones), we’re going to go in and we’re going to do some work next year.”

The move to center and the return for his redshirt senior season mirrors the decision of Pat Elflein, who surprised many by returning for his final season to lead the Buckeyes’ offensive front. Elflein, who will now be entering the NFL draft, had a standout season after the move, and is arguably one of the best offensive lineman in the upcoming draft.

According to Price, the decision was driven in part by the players who came before him.

“Taylor Decker was a huge part of this, Jacoby Boren, those guys who kind of set the culture,” Price said. “It’s my job to lead that next year when I come back and play.”

Family is a big part in the decisions of college players jumping to the next level, along with their education. However, for Price, promises to family intertwined with academics in his choice.

After telling reporters in the locker room following OSU’s 31-0 loss to Clemson in the PlayStation Fiesta Bowl he would return, Price explained the biggest reason he wished to return to Columbus.

“I had a couple of goals when I first came here: Be a captain, be an All-American and to graduate,” he said. “And I told my grandfather before he passed and my mother, I promised her I’d graduate and so I take the student athlete stuff very seriously. To graduate from Fisher College of Business and the Ohio State University is definitely one of my goals when I came in here.”

Price went on to admit he did not play well against the Tigers, and hoped to improve his game before next season kicks off for the Buckeyes. Although the promises to his family were the biggest deciding factors in returning, Price also said the memory of missed opportunities will keep him going next year.

“In times of hardship, this is when you begin to grow,” Price said. “We’ll start offseason training and this is going to be a burning feeling in my stomach. I didn’t do enough to win tonight. I didn’t do enough to win tonight.”

The 2017 season for OSU kicks off Aug. 31 in Bloomington, Indiana against the Hoosiers. Until then, Price will be working to learn the center position, as well as improve his skill set. Judging by the success of Elflein in his return, things might go extremely well for Price.

Elflein himself even said the only place to go for his fellow “Slob” is up.

“I feel like he’ll do pretty much the same thing as I did,” he said.. “Come back, lead this team, be the center. I think he’ll be another All-American. I think he’ll win the Rimington. I think he’ll do all those things.”

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