Why did EJ Price choose USC and not UGA? That’s a question that had Bulldogs fans stumped on Wednesday.
The 4-star offensive tackle made it clear after National Signing Day in the video interview above with DawgNation. Academics was his reason.
Why did he make that decision? Price brought up the pursuit of his college degree.
“I just felt it was a better fit for me as far as academically,” Price said. “I could see myself going to class more at USC. If it was strictly a football decision, it may have been Georgia but it was extremely hard but I just had to make the decision I felt was best for me and my life long-term and not just four great years.”
Yet somehow other reasons became talking points. Social media can be an amazing tool. At times. So can the message-board culture and all those anonymous insider recruiting sources.
How could a needed player who had shown so much affection to UGA not go to the state school? Were there character issues? Red flags? Academics? Some chose those forums to spread their own answers. There was one tweet that said Price wanted to go to UGA but administration chose not to admit him for character issues.
The 6-foot-6, 323-pounder addressed those rumors on Thursday by sharing what appear to be direct messages from UGA coach Kirby Smart via his Twitter account. They show clearly that UGA was not pulling his offer or raising any red flags regarding his admission.
Those that feel his “academics” rationale might just be a cover for those so-called rumors need to hear Price answer to one specific question in the above video interview.
UGA was a school he was once committed to. What changed? Was there another reason? Did he prefer the previous coaches who had spent more time with him building a relationship? Price was asked if he would have still went to UGA if Mark Richt was the head coach. He said yes.
“If Coach Richt was at Georgia then I would be a Dawg,” Price said.
To be clear, Price then said Richt was not at UGA and it was a subject that wasn’t even worth talking about. He had nothing but good things to say about the current staff, but that answer shows how much respect he had built up for Richt. It shows he felt that playing for him would have been enough for him to look past what he felt was a better academic fit at USC.
That answer also adds to the discussion that he was not prevented from choosing UGA.
Does that throw those red flags out the window? According to Price, he made a personal choice that it was better for his future to go to USC. It might be harder for a rabid fan base to swallow, but that was what he said on signing day.
He doesn’t have to answer to anyone, but that should be the only response to that question that really matters.
Unless otherwise indicated, player rankings and ratings are from the 247Sports Composite.
Jeff Sentell covers UGA football and UGA recruiting for AJC.com and The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Follow him on Twitter for the latest on who’s on their way to play Between the Hedges.