J.C. Price Cherishing Head Coach Experience Ahead Of Pinstripe Bowl

JC Price Virginia Tech
J.C. Price after Virginia Tech’s win over Virginia. (Ivan Morozov)

A year ago, J.C. Price was searching for a job after parting ways with Marshall, his home for nine seasons. When the co-defensive line job at Virginia Tech came open, he did everything but throw the kitchen sink at it. Now, he’s the head man of his alma mater – albeit for a short term – whom he will lead into battle in Wednesday’s Pinstripe Bowl.

“I probably attacked trying to secure this job more than anything that I’ve ever tried to do in my life, and I was lucky enough that Coach Fuente decided to hire me, and Justin and Darryl Tapp, I know both of those guys were instrumental on me being here.”

After the university and Fuente parted ways after the Hokies’ senior day win over Duke on Nov. 13, Price was the next man up. Director of Athletics Whit Babcock named him the interim head coach, and for the first time in his 20-year coaching career, he was the main guy.

Since, Virginia Tech is 1-1. A 38-26 loss to Miami put the team in a do-or-die situation, but a clutch 29-24 win over Virginia in Charlottesville sealed its bowl fate.

Off the field, however, it’s been a busy few weeks. Brent Pry was announced as Virginia Tech’s newest head coach on Dec. 2, and he retained Price. But early signing day was Dec. 15, so Price, Pierson Prioleau (VT’s safeties coach) and the new staff that was assembled was all over the place trying to retain commitments.

Still, Price has enjoyed it. It’s never felt like a burden to him, and it’s been a pleasure for him to get to learn more about the offensive side of the ball. Being the head coach has been more time consuming than being an assistant – Price mentioned that he forgot to eat once or twice when recruiting took priority – but he now has a better grasp of everything that goes into a football program, which is experience he can use in the future when he’s an assistant in Blacksburg.

“I definitely will leave this and go back to the d-line coach with a greater understanding that there’s a difference between making suggestions and decisions,” Price said. “I didn’t realize the head coach was really even involved in. I’ll have a greater appreciation for the time and the effort that the head coach takes in for every aspect of the program.”

Though he’ll only be the head man of the Hokies once more in the near future, it’s an opportunity Price will cherish. He’s fulfilling a dream, and doing it at the university he loves.

“This time last year I was looking for a job,” Price said, “And now here I am leading the Virginia Tech Hokies into the Pinstripe Bowl. Pinch me.”

Young Players With Opportunities

One of the many things to watch in Wednesday’s game is the young players that are going to have plentiful opportunities for Virginia Tech vs. Maryland.

At wide receiver, Price said he won’t know for sure whether freshman Da’Wain Lofton will be able to play. Redshirt junior Kaleb Smith was in a brace a few days ago. However, with the absences of Tre Turner (opt out for NFL Draft) and Tayvion Robinson (transferred to Kentucky), the depth chart (below) is thin (projected starters in bold).

WR slot 1: Kaleb Smith, Changa Hodge OR Jaden Payoute
WR slot 2: Da’Wain Lofton, Tink Boyd
WR slot 3: Jaylen Jones, Dallan Wright OR Christian Moss

It’s a similar situation at defensive back. Though there’s more experience there, a few absences could really set back the Hokies. The five cornerbacks listed on the depth chart are Brion Murray, Nadir Thompson OR D.J. Harvey, and Dorian Strong and Armani Chatman. 

Murray is in the same boat as Lofton, no decision will be made until right before the bowl game. Without Jermaine Waller, who opted out, Tech could be limited at that spot if some guys can’t go.

Outside of that, the Hokies are missing two quarterbacks, two defensive linemen and an offensive lineman in New York. There will be plenty of reps for inexperienced players, especially on special teams, which could be very important for their respective futures.

“In a lot of ways, this is a preview for next year’s football team,” Price said. “There’s going to be a lot of young guys. The receivers have gotten a lot of the attention, but there’s going to be young guys running down kickoffs. There’s going to be more young guys on special teams. I think you’re going to see that impact more on special teams with young guys than it necessarily will on offense and defense. I think offense and defense, I think it’s been a little bit blown out of proportion.

“The depth is something you are concerned about, but I think where you are really going to see the young guys play are going to be on special teams. The one thing Coach Shibest has always done is he has routinely met with and coached four, five guys deep at times in meetings, and now we’re going to be able to reap the benefits of his foresight because the guys that were fifth on the depth chart in August are going to be out there playing for us tomorrow.”

11 Responses You are logged in as Test

  1. Loved J.C. as a player and a coach but doubt after that game there is much to “cherish “ ?

  2. JC is everything that Fu wasn’t he loves VT and it shows great representation for VT. Thanks for being here we are very lucky to have you

  3. Good Luck Head Coach Price. Hokies are rooting for you and the whole team. Thanks for bringing the real college football atmosphere back.

  4. Congrat to Coach Price >> a Real HOKIE!!!

    Forget this bowl game, It will be like a Spring Game, kids will play that you never hear about again.

    GO HOKIES and give your best, “You are the Pride of VPI”!

  5. A lot to get jaded these days about college football, then JC comes along with his “Pinch Me” no coach speak, just brief, in the moment, takes you back to that place again.

  6. This game is important – because a Virginia Tech entity is participating. We, the fans, owe these participants our everything – and greet them with a ‘glad returning’.

    It’s be a great win for Virginia Tech – and JC. Isn’t that enough to watch and cheer?

  7. I have a serious man crush on CJCP! He exudes everything that is so great about VT! Wow… just wow!

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