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Pride joins elite group of S.C. players at Notre Dame

By John Clayton, Staff Reporter
Published on Wednesday, February 3, 2016

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Troy Pride Jr. joined teammates Mario Cusano and Dorian Lindsey at the Greer High School signing ceremony. Left to right behind Pride is Thomas Hudson, a mentor, and parents Troy Sr., and Angela.
 

Julie McCombs

Troy Pride Jr. joined teammates Mario Cusano and Dorian Lindsey at the Greer High School signing ceremony. Left to right behind Pride is Thomas Hudson, a mentor, and parents Troy Sr., and Angela.

 



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Troy Pride Jr. signs the Letter of Intent to play football at the University of Notre Dame.
 

Jim Fair

Troy Pride Jr. signs the Letter of Intent to play football at the University of Notre Dame.

 



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Troy Pride Jr. speaks to guests who attended his formal signing at Kingdom Assembly Outreach Center Wednesday afternoon.
 

Jim Fair

Troy Pride Jr. speaks to guests who attended his formal signing at Kingdom Assembly Outreach Center Wednesday afternoon.

 



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Coaches and mentors gave testimony of Troy Pride Jr.'s character, focus and will to be the best athletically and academically.
 
 

Jim Fair

Coaches and mentors gave testimony of Troy Pride Jr.'s character, focus and will to be the best athletically and academically.

 

 



Troy Pride, Jr.'s NCAA Letter of Intent to play football at Notre Dame arrived at the coaches' offices at 9 a.m. Wednesday.

When it did, Pride, an all-state defensive back from Greer High, joined a small fraternity of players from South Carolina to join one of the country's most storied college football programs.

Only 10 players from South Carolina have seen action in Notre Dame, according to 247sports. Pride, the second-ranked player in the state in the 2016 recruiting class, plans to be the 11th.

"They said the best person is always going to play, and I want to be that best person whenever I get the opportunity," Pride said.

According to Notre Dame's all-time roster, Pride became the first Irish signee from the Greenville-Spartanburg area since Woodruff great Tony Rice. Rice, who became a College Football Hall of Famer, led Notre Dame to a National Championship under Lou Holtz in 1988 and played for the Irish from 1987-89.

Defensive back Jeff Burris (Rock Hill) and defensive end Germaine Holden (Anderson) both played at Notre Dame in the 1990s.

Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly Tweeted soon after Pride signed with the Irish.

"We are excited to add a smart and physical player who brings some southern speed to our secondary," Kelly's Tweet read.

Notre Dame defensive backs coach Todd Lyght, who played at Notre Dame and in the NFL, and running backs coach Autry Denson, another Irish and NFL alum, were key in Pride's recruitment. Pride initially committed to Virginia Tech but de-committed after the retirement of Hokies coach Frank Beamer was announced. He announced his commitment to Notre Dame on Christmas Eve.

"He is over-the-top competitive," Denson said of Pride on Notre Dame's official website.

"He plays at his speed -- you see him on the field pulling away from guys. When challenged, he'll attack the ball defensively, and then once he has the ball, he can really flip the field and put the ball in the end zone as a defender."

Pride was among seven defensive backs in this year's Irish recruiting class, but said he is ready for that challenge as well.

"They've got a couple of seniors and some (upper) classmen, and seven DBs in this class, so it's going to be deep, but I think I can pull it out."

Pride hosted a signing ceremony at his church, Kingdom Assembly Outreach Center, and then participated in another at Greer High with teammates Mario Cusano (Presbyterian) and Dorian Lindsey (Wofford), who were vital cogs in back-to-back perfect regular seasons in 2014-15 for the Yellow Jackets.

"I wish we were signing these with our (state championship) rings on, but at the same time what we did here was something special," Pride said. "We're never going to forget it, and we're always going to be connected by it."

Pride’s formal ceremony featured his coaches through youth to high school in football and track. Pride’s parents, Troy Sr. and Angela flanked their son as guests offered testimonials about a young boy who became focused on academics and athletics.

When Troy Pride Jr. finished signing the letter of intent and his father added his signature, the most poignant moment of the celebration was a subtle father’s arm around his son’s shoulder.

Angela Pride said, “This was a dream come true. This is what I envisioned for Troy.”

* Jim Fair contributed to the story.

 

 

 

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