NFL might soon be in Brian Price’s future

Arizona State quarterback Samson Szakacsy dropped back to pass and UCLA defensive tackle Brian Price shed his blocker. This was not going to end well for Szakacsy.

Price, a junior, pounced, knocking Szakacsy backward while stripping him of the ball. It resulted in a touchdown for UCLA and was just another eye-catching moment for NFL scouts.

This could be Price’s last regular-season game when UCLA plays USC on Saturday. Or it could not. That is something to hash out later, as Price said, “My focus is on USC.”

But the time is approaching when he will at least ponder his NFL decision.

“I will have to talk with my family and teammates,” Price said. “I have never been through this process, so I’m taking it easy right now.”

Juniors can test the waters, getting a rough estimate where they will be selected. Price said he would consider those steps after his last game, whether it is Saturday against USC or a yet-to-be-determined bowl game.

“I got two more games left,” Price said. “After that I’m not sure.”

The pro and con issues are already there to be weighed.

There are a handful of quality defensive tackles potentially available for the next NFL draft, including Nebraska’s Ndamukong Suh and Alabama’s Terrence Cody.

On the other hand, a new NFL collective bargaining agreement could alter the financial landscape. League officials are in favor of a rookie wage scale, something the NFL Players Assn. appears willing to discuss. It could significantly reduce the amount of guaranteed money.

Those are issues Price and his family will consider in the near future. For now, he continues to show he does indeed have an NFL future.

The 6-foot-2, 300-pound Price is tied for third nationally in tackles for a loss with 20.5, which includes seven sacks. He had 14.5 tackles for a loss and 4.5 sacks last season.

The quality of his play has accelerated in recent weeks, despite efforts to slow him with double teams.

“The way to look at it is it’s a team sport,” Price said. “If I’m taking up two guys, somebody else is not getting blocked and they will make the play.”

But Price has found ways to beat the double teams.

“You drop to one knee and one of the guys will leave you,” Price said. “You get up and make the play. Sometimes I do that. Sometimes I don’t.”

However he goes about the job, his play has exceeded his expectations. Price has 8.5 tackles for a loss in the last three games, all UCLA victories

“It’s a team sport, so you want a better record,” Price said. “We’re turning that around. My own personal goals, I’m doing more than I thought I would do this year. I didn’t think I’d get 20 tackles for a loss. I was just hoping for two or three more than last year.”

Of course, Price would love to have more.

“I’d like about 10 on Saturday,” he said.

Forbath too?

Kicker Kai Forbath, a junior, said he will at least fill out the paperwork to see where he might be drafted. Forbath leads the nation with 26 field goals and has missed on only three tries -- all from beyond 50 yards -- this season.

“I don’t want to talk about what I’m feeling about that right now,” Forbath said. “It’s kind of up in the air right now. I am thinking about it.”

Bowl picture

Nothing official has been set up, but Kevin McDonald, Humanitarian Bowl executive director, and Dan Guerrero, UCLA’s athletic director, are expected to meet at Saturday’s game. McDonald is flying to Los Angeles after he attends the Boise State-Nevada game today.