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Price to be a tiger for Cincinnati
May 3, 2018

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The moment Austintown's Billy Price stepped on the campus of Fitch High School his peers took notice.

Actually, it was hard not to notice this strapping freshman that would eventually grow to be 6-foot-4 and weigh over 300 pounds. Fitch head football coach Phil Annarella certainly spotted Price and pined to get him to become a member of the Falcons. Once he did put on the pads, Price excelled. He later graduated and became a staple on the offensive line for The Ohio State University. Late last Thursday night, Price got the call many former high school football stars only dream to receive one day. That call came from the Cincinnati Bengals who made Price the team's first pick (21st overall) in the 2018 NFL Draft. Not only does the ex-Falcon get to play football professionally, he also gets to do it just a short car ride from Austintown.

"I didn't think the moment was real," said Price at an introductory press conference last Friday afternoon at Paul Brown Stadium. "This is exactly what I wanted, to stay in Ohio and bring the Ohio State brand to Cincinnati."

Price's accomplishments in college were second to none. He helped the Buckeyes win a National Championship, two Big Ten titles and three bowl games. He won the 2017 Rimington Trophy given to the best center in Division I football. Ironically, that award is named for ex Bengals' legendary center Dave Rimington. Price is also a two time All-American, including a unanimous selection this past offseason, and was twice named All Big 10. Among these many accomplishments is the record tying 55 straight starts Price made at OSU, which led Buckeyes' boss Urban Meyer to brag about his former offensive lineman.

"The Bengals got an Iron Man," said Meyer via Twitter. "Great things are coming (to Cincinnati)."

Great things preceded Price's tenure in Columbus too. The behemoth blocker was one reason why the Falcons made three trips to the Division I state playoffs in his time at Fitch. Price proved his versatility in high school when he was voted the Associated Press' Division I Defensive Player of the Year as a senior. Not only was Billy the bomb on the football field, but he was also just as spectacular as a member of Fitch's track team. He finished seventh in the state in discuss in 2012 as well as sixth in the shot and second in weight throw. The Austintown native's ability to shine in so many ways is one of the traits that Coach Annarella marveled at when talking about Price.

"We have a motto here at Fitch to be consistent," said Annarella last weekend. "Billy epitomized that. His work ethic on the field and in the weight room is great. He always gave his best and it has paid off for him."

Price's near perfect attitude also helped him succeed in the classroom where he was a terrific student at Fitch and graduated from OSU with a degree in business administration with a specialization in operations management last May.

"(Price) was a model student," said Annarella. "He's a very bright young man who won't have any issues adapting to the NFL. I'm almost as proud of him as his parents are."

Another coach who is excited to be in Price's presence is current Bengal boss Marvin Lewis. The veteran headman will be looking for the local standout to fill a void at center on his team and believes he'll have no trouble doing it because of his mental toughness.

"(Price) can become a pillar of our football team," said Lewis at last Friday's presser. "He plays a position where he has to have some leadership ability. He demonstrated that to us through the entire (draft) process."

The player Lewis and his staff drafted acknowledges that being a leader is a very important part of his career, but also knows he's playing a position in the NFL that is not for the faint of heart.

"You have to be somebody with character and morals and also have no problem tearing someone's face off," Price said smiling. "You have to be a high character guy who's approachable."

Character is a word that is easily associated with Billy Price. It's not a surprising either considering the work ethic of the people of Austintown. Those same patrons will get to see Price play pro ball when he visits Cleveland and Pittsburgh. If they want to see him more often his eight home games are just hours away. Being chosen by a team that is so close to home made draft night that much more enjoyable for one of Austintown's favorite sons.

"For me, you are playing in your backyard," Price said. "It's an excellent opportunity because you represent the state of Ohio. Being raised in Ohio athletics, playing at Ohio State in college and now being able to play for the Bengals is a dream come true. Playing in the midwest, being raised in the Midwest and now continuing my career in the midwest, there's nothing more I could ask for."

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