Have you ever had a bad day and said something you shouldn’t have said?
Then you have something in common with Kentucky’s E.J. Price, who had a day like that on March 22 when he abruptly announced his departure from the football team while blasting Cats coaches in a series of tweets.
The offensive tackle from Lawrenceville, Ga., by way of Southern Cal, didn’t love the idea of even discussing those events of March 22 at UK’s Media Day late last week.
“It’s over,” said Price, who discussed his spring misstep for the first time on Friday.
But the 6-foot-6, 305-pound sophomore is glad that the “over” isn’t a reference to his Kentucky career.
“In the spring, I was battling a little injury, got a little down, of course,” said Price, who said it was especially frustrating because he’d already sat out for two seasons. “I’m a human. Social media can take on a life of its own. I definitely could’ve done a lot better job of managing my emotions.”
After his social media outburst, Price sat down and had a long, heart-to-heart conversation with Coach Mark Stoops.
“He’s been extremely supportive of me all through the process and I’m just grateful to be a part of this program and to be a part of this team,” said Price, who is competing for time at left tackle with Landon Young. He’s also worked a bit at the other tackle spot.
Price has only grown closer to his coach this offseason, including the Kentucky coach attending his baptism in Lexington just hours after getting back from a long bus trip from Washington, D.C., with his son’s class.
“It was cool. It was an amazing day,” Price said of his baptism, which was on the same day as teammate Josh Paschal’s. “I was excited to give my life to the Lord. That support from Coach Stoops meant the world to me. He’s been a great head coach, a great supporter of me since I came here.”
Price is past the pectoral muscle strain that he struggled with for part of the spring, and he’s excited about getting back into a game for the first time since his senior season at Archer High School in Georgia.
There was the redshirt season for USC after that and then an NCAA-mandated season on the sideline after his transfer to UK.
Sitting out made him miss football and gave him a chance to watch games with teammates who also couldn’t travel for whatever reason last season.
That group will only add to a team that is trying to flip close losses from last season into victories this season. Price wants to be a part of that change: “I feel like this year, we’re all coming with a new energy, almost a renewed energy.”
And his coaches say Price is coming in with a more mature perspective.
“We had a deal the other day and something happened and he didn’t retaliate,” offensive coordinator Eddie Gran said Tuesday when asked if he saw a different Price than a few months ago.
“It’s huge. It’s huge for our whole football team. Coach always talks about discipline and you can’t do things like that. So, yeah, he has progressed for sure.”