Price eager to prove he has mettle to protect Boyd's blindside

by - Senior Writer -

AUDIO: Phillip Price after practice on Monday

CLEMSON – Every time a right-handed quarterback drops back to pass, it isn’t inconceivable to say that the most important player on the field is the left tackle, the offensive lineman that protects the quarterback’s blind side.

The Clemson offensive line returns four starters from a season ago, but the one spot that needs to be replaced is that all-important left tackle spot, which had been manned by Chris Hairston.

Enter Phillip Price.

The redshirt senior from Dillon came to Clemson as a tight end, but moved to the offensive line before the 2009 season. Last year, he played well enough to get significant snaps, and now the 6-5, 300-pounder is in line to be Tajh Boyd’s personal protector.

Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney says that Price is beginning to separate himself from Brandon Thomas, but Price said he doesn’t let what other people say change how he plays the game.

“I don’t pay attention to any of that,” Price said following Monday afternoon’s practice. “That's for them [the coaches] to decide. If I do, I do. If I don't, I don't. I just have to go out there and do me, and I have to play to keep it together for the five guys on the line and the six guys back there trying to make plays- that's all I have to do.”

Swinney said before Monday’s practice session that what separates Price from Thomas is how physical Price plays the game, and Price said that is who he is.

“It's not a mindset. That's just the way I am,” he said. “It just stems back to where I'm from. I like to play physical football. I played physical football in high school and I play physical football up here. You have to coach some guys to be physical, but it's just the way I am. That's one of my key assets.

Now, you're not going to beat the hell out of our defense. You can be physical with control, within the scheme, and within the system. You can't just go out there and be like ‘I'm going to throw everybody around.’ That’s not the way football is played. You have to play within yourself, within the scheme, within the call, with everybody. It's a team game and that's way you have to play it.”

The fact that he is entering his fifth season as a Tiger makes him want to win the starting job.

“I approached this like I want to win the job,” he said. “It's hard work, and I've worked hard every other year. I've played behind Chris and Chris is a great player. I learned and learned from him and now it's my opportunity to make something of myself and do my best.”

Price said he definitely wants to start, but wants to be a team player first and foremost.

“It's my goal [to start], but it's not my decision,” he said. “That’s up to coach Swinney, coach [Robbie] Caldwell and the other coaches to decide. They'll do what's best for the team and that's where my true heart lies- what's best for the team. If it's me, if it's Brandon, it's whatever. I have to go out and do my best. If I do my best then I can't say anything else.”

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