In good hands
McRae, Price a solid duo in Mavs' defensive backfield
They were thrown into the fire last season and have emerged as dependable players and friends.
Sophomore defensive backs Travis McRae and Jordan Price have started a combined 29 games for the Colorado Mesa University football team.
“Jordan and Travis are playing well,” CMU coach Russ Martin said. “They come to compete. They compete hard every single down. Those two guys will get better every single week. Their best football is way ahead of them.”
McRae came to Mesa in 2010 and redshirted his first year, then earned a starting cornerback spot for the season opener in 2011.
“Last year, we opened against Humboldt, which had probably some of the better receivers we saw in the season,” McRae said. “It was an eye-opener because of the speed and tempo. It progressively got better throughout the season. We took it day by day and worked on what we needed to work on.”
McRae has started every game for the Mavericks except one last season when he was out with a concussion. He had four interceptions, returning two for touchdowns.
He moved to safety two weeks ago against New Mexico Highlands and played safety last week, but he remains listed as a starting cornerback.
McRae is looking for his first interception this season, but he already has as many tackles this season as he did all of last year.
“Travis is actually better suited as a safety, but has given us quality playing time at corner,” Martin said. “In a way, he’s more physical than most corners. He’s playing very solid and well there. He’s also played some at safety. He’s a very versatile player.”
Price was a late addition to the Mavericks last season when his SAT score caused the University of Missouri to rescind a full-ride scholarship. Instead of redshirting at Missouri, Price ended up playing as a freshman at Mesa.
“It was overwhelming, but it was actually great,” he said. “It was a different system, but the high school I came from in Texas, kids are already pretty big.
“My coaches last year encouraged me. They said, ‘You know you’re good. Go out there and play with a high confidence and do your business.’ Everybody has your back if you get beat. Just be like a fish and forget about it.”
Price got his first start in the fourth game of the 2011 season against New Mexico Highlands and has started every game since.
“I’m not going to lie, I was really nervous,” he said of his first start. “I had butterflies. I’ve got to do this. After the second half, I calmed down. I felt I did very good in that game.”
Price started seven games last season, intercepting two passes, and he led the team with 15 pass breakups. He earned the RMAC defensive freshman of the year award.
“I wish I could’ve got a couple more picks, but I was happy with the outcome (for the season),” he said.
Price intercepted his first pass of 2012 last week against Western New Mexico and has five pass breakups this season.
“This year, Coach (Todd) Auer wants me to be more about the team,” Price said. “That’s why I don’t have more picks. I’m staying deep and doing my job.”
Price, who is from Fort Worth, Texas, and McRae, from South Jordan, Utah, have matured together and have seen their friendship grow as a result. They share a residence with defensive backs Michael Brady and Tyler Winder.
“Every Sunday, there’s an argument in the house,” Price said. “When the Cowboys are playing, (McRae) is in my ear telling me (Tony) Romo is so sorry. When the Broncos are on, I’m back in his ear.
“It’s a fun house. I love our house. Travis and I have built a big friendship.”
They’ve developed a friendly competition with each other.
“We give each other a hard time, but we’re sure to say we need to work on this,” McRae said. “We’re good critics of each other. That’s the best way to put it.”