April 23, 2004
by Katie Stuhldreher
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – The Notre Dame football team is certainly not a fair-weather bunch. And playing in South Bend, who could argue? Whether in a sensational “Return to Glory” season, or one marred by frustrating shut-outs, the tradition and spirit of Irish football remains constant. No one understands this concept better than the guy whose job it is to step up on fourth down. Rising sophomore punter Geoff Price is ready and willing to do just that next season.
Price grew up watching Notre Dame football on television and dreaming of one day attending the legendary university. However, his dream did not entail wearing a gold helmet at the time since he was more of a baseball player and simply wanted to be a student at Notre Dame.
Yet now that Price is here, he finds himself down on the field of Notre Dame Stadium on Saturdays during the fall rather than doing crowd-pushups in the student section. And he wouldn’t have it any other way.
“Ever since I was little, I used to watch Notre Dame football and I wanted to go here,” Price commented. “I never thought I’d play football here though. I’m very fortunate to have the opportunity to do both now that I’m here.”
And Notre Dame is fortunate that Price is here both as a football player and a student, too. As a matter of fact, Notre Dame is fortunate to have Price here at all. When Notre Dame extended a late scholarship to Price, he had already verbally committed to the University of Texas.
“It’s been a dream of mine to come here since I was little and when I got an opportunity to accept this dream, I had to take it,” Price said of his decision. “I knew that if I had passed this up, I might have regretted it later in life.”
Thus far it is apparent that Price made the right choice. Although Price did not see any game-time in his first season, he feels that he has adjusted and learned a lot from his experiences at Notre Dame.
“There is a lot of pressure to perform at the highest level but it’s worth it,” Price added. “I love the prestige that comes with playing for Notre Dame. Everyone knows Notre Dame football and even if they are not fans, they respect you for being a part of it.”
When asked whether he was pleased with last season, Price merely grinned and replied: “Of course not. I’ve never had a losing season before. From a team standpoint, we struggled and individually, I performed poorly. It was a learning experience and we’re looking to turn things around next season.”
Looking forward to 2004, Price explained that his biggest goal is to get playing time. He feels that his biggest contribution to the team is his camaraderie with his teammates. Price mentioned that many of the more experienced players helped him out a lot last season, especially senior Nicholas Setta, and juniors D.J. Fitzpatrick and Casey Dunn.
“I just try to be a nice guy to everyone and be a good teammate,” Price said.
Price is using the off-season as an opportunity not only to grow closer with his teammates, but also to improve his technique and timing in order to compete for a spot in the starting lineup next season. He is also working on improving his focus and overall mental approach to the game.
“The biggest thing is to try to stay focused without being too tight,” Price elaborated. “You need to stay relaxed and smooth, too, so it’s a fine line you have to find.”
Price commented that ultimately he is working to get in as many games as possible next season, yet hopefully the offense won’t be in need of a punter too often. However, if and when they are, Price is more than willing to step up for the school that he put his heart and soul into reaching. This deep dedication and enthusiasm will surely come in handy the next time the Irish find themselves in a fourth-and-long situation.
— ND —