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Originally published Thursday, July 24, 2008 at 12:00 AM

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California QB Keith Price pledges to Huskies for 2009

Washington's Tyrone Willingham will kick off the festivities at Pac-10 media day in Los Angeles this morning as the first coach to take...

Seattle Times staff reporter

Washington's Tyrone Willingham will kick off the festivities at Pac-10 media day in Los Angeles this morning as the first coach to take the podium.

One question he won't have to answer is why the Huskies don't have any commitments for the recruiting Class of 2009.

The Huskies got their first one Wednesday from 6-foot-2, 181-pound quarterback Keith Price of St. John Bosco High in Bellflower, Calif.

Washington is the last school in the Pac-10 to get a commitment for the class of 2009, with some surmising that questions about Willingham's future is making recruits leery. Every other Pac-10 school has at least four.

Price admitted as much, saying he might have committed earlier otherwise.

"That was my main hesitation," he said.

But he said a few conversations with Willingham helped soothe his worries.

"I have faith in coach Willingham and the program and that he's going to turn it around," Price said.

Price is described as a dual-threat quarterback in the Dennis Dixon mold, running for just over 300 yards and eight touchdowns last season and passing for 955 and six touchdowns. Last year was his first as a starting quarterback, and he said his team spent a lot of the season with an offense based around its running back, reasons why he was viewed as under-the-radar in recruiting circles. His only other listed offers were from Utah and Nevada.

But his stock rose after he was reportedly impressive in summer camps, including a performance at Washington's a few weeks ago. He said UW didn't begin recruiting him until June but then quickly made an offer. He said UW offensive coordinator Tim Lappano told him that "I was perfect" for the spread offense the Huskies are now operating, which includes liberal doses of quarterback runs.

"He said after Jake Locker leaves and I redshirt my freshman year, I could be ready to go," Price said.

The Huskies, however, won't lack for competition following the departure of Locker, who has three years of eligibility remaining but could leave after this season under NFL draft rules. Locker's backup this year is projected to be redshirt freshman Ronnie Fouch, and UW is bringing in two QBs this year — true freshmen Luther Leonard from Evergreen of White Center and Dominique Blackman from Carson, Calif.

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Price won't be able to sign a letter of intent until February, but he said he has little doubt about his decision.

"I wanted to stay on the West Coast and I wanted to stay in the Pac-10," he said. "I got some looks from Louisville and they really liked me, but I didn't really want to go back East. I wanted to stay on the West Coast — Washington, I'm already used to the offense. It's the same kind of offense my high school is running, so I thought it would be a perfect fit."

Bob Condotta: 206-515-5699 or bcondotta@seattletimes.com

Copyright © 2008 The Seattle Times Company

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