One of the most intriguing matchups in the Cotton Bowl will be Notre Dame’s secondary vs Clemson football’s passing attack and an intriguing player to watch is South Carolina native Troy Pride Jr.
Notre Dame is ranked third nationally in pass efficiency defense(100.83) and the secondary is led by All-American cornerback Julian Love. His partner on the opposite side of the field is junior Troy Pride Jr., a South Carolina native.
Pride played at Greer High which is about 50 miles from the Clemson campus. Despite being an in-state kid, he was lightly recruited by both South Carolina and Clemson mostly due to his 5-foot-11, 165 pound slight frame. He committed to the Virginia Tech Hokies in February of 2014 his junior year but decommitted on Nov. 12, 2015.
Pride made an unofficial visit to Clemson, ironically, on October 3, 2015, the last meeting between the two schools. The Tigers beat the Irish 24-22 in monsoon like conditions.
“I’m trying to make it to where they can’t ignore me anymore, trying to play well every week,” Pride told The Greenville News after the visit.
But he didn’t get an offer until Dec. 17.
Notre Dame got a visit on Oct. 17, commitment on Dec. 24 and his signature on Feb. 3, 2016 over Clemson, South Carolina and others.
Pride was asked at the Cotton Bowl Media Day in Arlington, TX, if he strongly considered signing with Clemson.
"“During the time that they recruited me, yes. I strongly considered Clemson. They were a team on the up and coming and had shown a lot of interest,” Pride said. “I was considering a lot of different aspects of Clemson and what they offered me, so I would say, yes.”"
The former Shrine Bowler, who is now listed at 6 feet, 190 pounds, may have some trouble matching up with the height of 6-foot-4 receivers Tee Higgins and Justyn Ross, but he can run with anyone.
Pride is an accomplished track athlete on the prep and collegiate levels. In the AAA state finals, the senior finished first in the 100(10.55), 200(21.28), 400(48.28) and 400 meters relay.
At Notre Dame, Pride has times of 6.73 in the 60, 10.47(wind aided) in the100 and 21.2 in the 200. He has also been laser timed at 4.38 in the 40.
Pride is the one guy on the Irish roster who has the speed to consistently run with the Clemson receivers and possibly track down running back Travis Etienne, if he gets loose in the secondary.
Statistically, he has 35 tackles, two interceptions and nine pass breakups in 11 games.
The Notre Dame secondary vs Clemson receivers matchup could likely determine who moves on to face Oklahoma or Alabama in the National Championship game on Jan. 7 and Pride’s play may be a factor.