East Lansing — It’s not hard to see what Josiah Price means to Michigan State’s football team.
Entering a season where the Spartans will be breaking in a new starting quarterback and relying on a bevy of untested receivers and inexperienced offensive linemen, Price is one of the few constants.
The fifth-year senior tight end has played in 39 games (starting 15), catching 16 touchdown passes, the most of any tight end in Michigan State history.
But while Price focuses on his final season, one he hopes leads to another Big Ten title and ultimately an NFL career, what happens on the football field is only a small part of his life.
“To whom much is given much is expected,” Price says, quoting a phrase he has spent much of his life trying to follow.
It comes from the Gospel According to Luke, and for someone whose faith in God is as important as his love of football, it’s been a calling for Price. When he’s not on the field or studying film, he’s busy giving back.
“I’ve been blessed a lot in life,” Price said last week. “I have been given a pretty big platform and my job is to be a light to other people and give as much as I can.”
It’s something Price has been recognized for during his time at Michigan State.
For the second straight year, he has been nominated for the Allstate AFCA Good Works Team, recognizing college football players who exemplify a superior commitment to community service and volunteerism. He also has been named to the Wuerffel Trophy watch list, which recognizes players for community service combined with athletic and academic achievement.
The hospitality business major has served as one of the football team’s representatives on the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee and was selected as SAAC outreach chair for 2015-16.
It’s the sort of volunteering that has been instilled in Price since he first took a mission trip to Honduras with his family when he was 9 years old, and again when they were in New Orleans helping Hurricane Katrina victims while he was in in middle school.
“That’s when a light went on,” Price said. “That’s when I started to grow in my faith and not live for myself. I have a passion and a calling to do good for other people.”
That calling continued as Price took more mission trips, including another to Honduras his senior year at Eastern High in Greentown, Ind. Price and his family spent time at a Christian school in Tegucigalpa where his aunt and uncle work as missionaries.
He’s been on other trips since, including one to South Africa during his freshman year at Michigan State, and last summer took part in Michigan State’s study abroad International Summer Sports Program, spending 2 1/2 weeks in Sydney, where he was joined by teammates Paul Lang, Jack Conklin and Tyler O’Connor.
“Josiah Price has excelled really in all areas, from the field to the classroom to the community,” Michigan State coach Mark Dantonio said. “He’s taken advantage of his opportunities by not only traveling around the world, but helping people while he’s there.
“It’s important to him and his family to make an impact on other people’s lives. It’s nice to see he’s getting recognition for his work off the football field, but by no means is that why he’s doing these acts of service in the community. It’s just the type of person he is.”
Price also gives back in East Lansing.
This summer, student-athletes made trips to Sparrow Hospital in Lansing, and Price hopes to restart a program that includes regular visits during the season.
And along the way, Price also has been a standout in the classroom, being named Academic All-Big Ten three times.
Price also has been named as one of the Big Ten’s distinguished scholars, an award is given to student-athletes earning a grade-point average of 3.7 or higher for the 2015-16 academic year.
The support of Dantonio and the program has been as important as anything, Price said. This summer, Dantonio allowed Price to miss some mandatory conditioning to take part in an internship with a real estate development company in Indiana.
Price worked with Henke Development Group on a residential golf course community under construction in Westfield, just north of Indianapolis.
“Coach D is all about life experiences and I was able to do a lot of great networking,” Price said. “It was cool to see what everyone was doing … there’s so many moving parts. But I loved it. To see a project start as just land and dirt and then have it all come together.”
It’s all coming together for Price. He’s trying to enjoy his last bit of free time before his focus shifts to his final season. Next week, he’ll join Dantonio, receiver R.J. Shelton and linebacker Riley Bullough at Big Ten Media Days before camp begins.
And there seems little doubt Price will be prepared for what comes next.
“What do I see myself doing?” Price asks. “I have no idea, but I’m looking forward to it.”