Tonight, Ohio Northern’s Devon Price will play in the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl in Carson, California. There are 113 players split between the two rosters, and Price will be the only player there from a Division III school.
“I’m very thankful for the opportunity because I know not many guys from my level, or any level, get this opportunity,” Price, a four-year receiver at ONU, said via e-mail. “Being the only Division III player out of 113 is a big accomplishment.”
This week, Price has practiced and played with other pro prospects in preparation for tonight’s game. He has also been coached by NFL legends such as Mike Martz, John Ramsdell, Az-Zahir Hakim and Andre Reed. Price has spent the week talking to NFL scouts as well, as representatives from all 32 teams attend the practices and game.
For Price, the Collegiate Bowl is another step in the process of fulfilling his NFL dreams.
“The experience overall, being here competing, is once-in-a-lifetime. Getting coached by Hall of Fame players and coaches has been an experience I will never forget,” Price said. “Most of the players here are from FBS universities and a lot are on this year’s draft board, so having the opportunity to compete with them every day has been the best part.”
Price has been training for his pro day (in the spring) in Dallas, Texas since the New Year. He also recently signed with International Sports Agency, and his agent is Bardia Ghahremani (below), a name familiar to those who know Ohio Northern football.
Ghahremani represented Jamal Robertson during his career in the NFL and CFL, and currently represents Jason Trusnik of the Minnesota Vikings. Both are former Ohio Northern football players (Robertson from 1997-2000 and Trusnik from 2003-2006).
Ghahremani is a 2001 graduate of ONU’s Claude W. Pettit College of Law. He sent film of Price to NFL scouts and NFLPA recruiters, and he believed that Price would get invited to the Collegiate Bowl.
“He is the one who knew my talent matched up with bigger-school players,” Price said. “He mentioned to me that I would probably get an invite by Christmas, and it happened.”
Dean Paul, Price’s coach for four years at ONU, watched both of the televised practices this week leading up to tonight’s game. In one of the drill sessions, Paul said that Price went up against a Division I cornerback and made him fall after a hard juke.
“He broke his ankles,” Paul said. “It was like something you’d see Kyrie (Irving) do.”
Paul also believes that Price has the ability to separate himself from the pack at the next level, due to his open-field quickness.
“He’s got outstanding acceleration, and a great ability to make guys miss, both in coverage and in the open field,” Paul said.
In his career at Ohio Northern, Price set the school record for receptions, with 244, and yards, with 3,201. This season, he was named 2nd-team All-America, 1st-team All-Region, and 1st-team All-OAC as a kick returner and receiver.
Paul believes that Price’s resume speaks for himself, and that he deserves to play in the Collegiate Bowl.
“You don’t invite yourself to play in that game,” Paul said. “You earn that opportunity.”
Price will be playing for the National Team tonight, and will be donning uniform No. 83. The game will be televised on ESPN2 at 6 p.m. ET.
While the Collegiate Bowl will be on national television, some of Price’s former teammates will make the trip to California to see the game. Justin Magazine (senior running back) and Nick Hensley (senior receiver) will both be in attendance tonight.
“If we didn’t have such a big recruiting day on Saturday, I’d be going [too],” Paul said. “We have 21 recruits coming up that day. So I’ll probably do the visits, watch the men’s basketball game, then go see Devon play after that.”
For Price, there is a lot on the line tonight. It’s not only a chance to prove himself to pro scouts, but also a chance to represent Ohio Northern and Division III on a national stage.
And he couldn’t be more ready.
“Honestly, at this level, it’s not necessarily about where you’re from, it’s about if can you do your job better than the next man,” Price said. “I have to prove myself.”