At a position stacked with upperclassman talent, a freshman on the USF football team is beginning to emerge.
After weeks of anticipation and promises to get him more involved, the Bulls gave true freshman tight end Sean Price a chance against the Louisville Cardinals, a chance that the Citra, Fla., native made the most of.
Price made the first three catches of his career in Kentucky over the weekend, including two vital receptions on a touchdown drive that brought the Bulls to within three.
After helping USF convert a fourth-and-eight from the Cardinals 44 yard line with a 17-yard catch, the 6-foot-3 freshman hauled in his first career touchdown, a 13-yarder.
Weve worked on that in practice, Price said about his connection with quarterback B.J. Daniels. When my numbers called, he sees me, he throws it I want to make him look good.
Though Prices potential breakout performance came in a losing effort, coach Skip Holtz said the success was reminiscent of a freshman wide receiver from a season ago, Andre Davis, who himself broke a recent slump with four catches for 47 yards and two scores.
I think youre seeing the Andre Davis sort of improvement in him, Holtz said. This game may have been the breakout game for him like Andre had at the midpoint of last season. I feel like this could start a big season for him.
Holtz said Prices increased role and production is a direct result of the confidence the freshman has gained from learning the offense better.
Sean has an incredible amount of confidence in himself and he should but that confidence comes from knowing what to do and what routes to run, and his confidence should continue to grow, Holtz said.
Price said the difference in his knowledge and his role between the first week of the season and now has been a big reason for his success.
I know the offense a lot more, I can read defenses and Im more comfortable in the offense, Price said. Week one, I was everywhere. I didnt know most of the offense. I knew a bit of it, but not everything.
Though Price broke through for his first impact game, he still faces a challenge ahead of him on the depth chart. The freshman plays the same position as seniors Evan Landi, Andreas Shields and Jeff Hawkins, a group that makes it difficult to give Price enough playing time.
Hes done a great job and has phenomenal talent, Holtz said. But when you have seniors in front of him like Landi, Shields and Hawkins, and its hard to pull out a senior and put in a true freshman when if he makes a mistake at a critical time, you have three seniors on the sideline looking at you.
Despite the potential risk, Price did enough on the practice field to earn a chance to prove himself on game day.
Ive really got more comfortable in the past couple of weeks, Price said. The bye week definitely helped with that.
When Price committed to USF as a four-star prospect a year ago, he did so with the knowledge of the veteran presence ahead of him on the depth chart, but his attention to detail earned the trust of coaches.
Coming in here, I knew I had some pretty talented players in front of me, so I came in wanting to learn from them, Price said. The little things will get you more noticed than the big things, like lining up right, making the right call while calling out a blitz when you see it or looking in the catch.
Despite the senior talent ahead of him, Price said he thinks there could be a bigger role for him in the second half of the 2012 season.
I do believe that the second half to be a bit more productive, he said. From what the coaches are stressing in practice, theyre giving me a chance to help my team, and my teammates are being
supportive, so I think Ill have a more active role to help my team win.