Ex-UGA commit opens up … before The Opening

State's No. 1 OL, EJ Price (AJC/Michael Carvell)

State’s No. 1 OL, EJ Price (AJC/Michael Carvell)

EJ Price, the state’s No. 1-rated offensive lineman, was busy this weekend packing his bags for The Opening all-star competition in Oregon at Nike headquarters later this week.

But before Price left town, the 4-star granted the AJC his first lengthy interview since he broke off his commitment to UGA on June 18.

“My relationship with Georgia is still good,” Price said. “I’ve talked to Coach Richt and Coach Sale.

“Georgia is definitely in my top five schools, if not my No. 1.”

Those words will bring comfort to some UGA fans who were worried about whether or not the Bulldogs were still in the race for Price after the summer breakup.

What’s the real reason that Price backed off his UGA pledge? He said it’s the same reason he tried to explain in his tweet (before going silent): He simply felt like he simply rushed his decision.

“I said what I said on my Twitter — I felt like I ended my recruitment too early,” Price said. “I just want to look at all my options. Like I said, Georgia is still one of my top schools.

“Everybody … they don’t know if I’m not with the Bulldogs or what’s going on or whatever. And I don’t even want to talk about it too much. Like I say, Georgia is good with me, and I’m good with Coach Richt. And that’s really all that matters to me.

“I really don’t care what the media thinks about it. I know where I stand on UGA’s board.”

EJ Price (AJC)

EJ Price (AJC)

The 6-foot-6, 310-pounder said he knows exactly where he stands because he has had recent conversations with the man running UGA’s program, Mark Richt.

“I talk to Coach Richt often,” Price said. “He’s a real good guy. I respect him and his program a lot. He runs a good program, and he makes sure he holds his student-athletes accountable. He makes sure you’re going to be responsible if you play there.

“I respect what he does on the field, and also the programs he has set up to help you after football. There’s a lot that goes into Coach Richt. I just think he’s a great man.”

Has Richt made it clear to Price that UGA still wants him? “They definitely still want me, and I’m definitely still interested in them,” Price said. “I just ended my recruiting process too early. That’s why I de-committed. It was nothing personal against Georgia. It’s a good school, and I respect everybody there.”

If Price’s words aren’t enough, he plans to show UGA that he’s still seriously considering the Bulldogs by appearing at “Dawg Night” prospect camp on July 18.

Why go? “It’s Dawg Night,” Price said with a laugh, “and I live in Georgia.”

What’s next for Price with the rest of his recruiting? He’s not quite sure. He’s slowing the process down so he can put more research into the biggest decision of his life.

“I’ve built relationships with a few schools, and I’ll release a top five soon,” said Price, who politely declined to reveal details on the five.

“I’m not really into the Twitter stuff. I’m just focused on my relationships with the college coaches, and how they feel about me. I’ve built a lot of relationships. I don’t know when I will release my top five. I’m focused on my senior season and helping my team.”

Price transferred after his junior season from Central Gwinnett to Archer, which advanced to the state championship game in Georgia’s largest classification last December (losing to Colquitt County).

Archer, which has five players on its roster with UGA offers, is expected to be ranked No. 1 in several national polls.

“We’ve got a lot of expectations this year, and we are definitely going to make sure that we deliver,” Price said.