After a senior season that saw him rank among the top draft-eligible running backs in this year’s NFL Draft, FIU’s D’Vonte Price heads to the Senior Bowl in Mobile looking to justify his billing and solidify his chances at hearing his name called in early April.
Playing in seven games as a true freshman, Price broke out as a sophomore in 2018, rushing for over six yards per carry, earning the praise of opposing coaches despite not being a full-time starter.
“We game-planned for 24 (Price) heavily because we thought he was the most dynamic and explosive back of their bunch,” said Tulane secondary coach J.J. McCleskey, recalling the 2019 season-opener against FIU.
The 6’1, 200-pounder became the starter in 2020 in two seasons as the number-one back, rushed for 1,263 yards and 11 touchdowns on 249 carries and earned an invite to the top showcase for seniors.
“The league is always looking for 6-1, 205-pound backs who display a breakaway gear that can separate themselves from most backs that size,” said Senior Bowl Executive Director Jim Nagy.
Price sat down with Underdog Dynasty to talk about his collegiate career, what aspects of his game he’s working on and handling the spotlight of Senior Bowl week.
Eric Henry: What have you been up to since FIU’s season ended?
D’Vonte Price: Ever since the end of the season, I’ve just been prepping for the Senior Bowl. I knew this was a big opportunity for me so my focus has been on getting ready for that and then the combine.
Henry: You were banged up towards the end of last season and had to miss the final few games. How are you feeling health-wise?
Price: I feel great right now, my body is fresh and I’m fully healthy so I feel amazing right now.
Henry: Who have you been training with in preparation for the combine and what has the prep been like?
Price: I’ve been training with Coach (Andreu) Swasey. He’s been putting me through the same drills that he put the guys he worked with at Miami who went to the NFL. I don’t want to give away his secrets, but he’s the man with the plan and I’m sticking to it.
Henry: What are some aspects of your game that you feel you need to work on as you’re entering the next level?
Price: I can become a better student of the game in terms of I’m always trying to be smarter, learning the X’s and O’s and then also being able to showcase that I’m a three-down back. I can play first and second down, but also line up in different spots on third-down and catch the ball out of the backfield.
Henry: Have you had a chance to get advice from any former FIU players who are in the NFL currently?
Price: Yeah, a few guys have been really helpful to me. Jonnu (Smith), Jonathan Cyprien and Stan (Stantley Thomas-Oliver) have been with me through this process. Because it’s a different process than college so since the end of the season, they’ve been in contact with me and letting me know what to expect.
Henry: Can you describe your feelings entering Senior Bowl week? The level of attention on you will be different than what you faced playing in Conference USA at FIU.
Price: I don’t try and let the pressure get to me too much. I’m a big faith guy, as you know. I have faith in God and trust in his plan. But I know I’m from a smaller conference than a lot of the dudes out there, so I just go show that I can compete with the Power Five guys and that I can play at the next level.
Henry: What are some of your favorite memories in college?
Price: I’ve been so focused on training, it’s crazy it hasn’t really sunk in yet in a sense that I’m not going back to FIU. But of course the victory over Miami. The Bahamas Bowl win and the whole week was a great experience. My sophomore year as a whole was crazy with us having a couple of dudes getting shot and us as a program overcoming that was great.