Christmas came early for the Notre Dame football coaching staff, as cornerback Troy Pride Jr. announced his commitment to the Irish on Dec. 24.
The 6-foot, 165-pound recruit was courted by in-state schools South Carolina and Clemson, but chose to come to South Bend, in part, because of…Brian Van Gorder.
“I like coach VanGorder’s exotic blitz packages that he uses, and I understand coach Lyght as a defensive backs coach,” Pride told ND Insider. “The technique that he preached to me when I went up for an official will be very influential to me furthering my game. It will make me a better football player.”
Pride is considered the top cornerback in South Carolina, eighth best in the south and 16th best at his position nationwide, according to Scout. He joined fellow cornerbacks Julian Love and Jalen Elliott in the Irish’s Class of 2016.
Irish Illustrated’s Tim Prister, in analyzing Pride, said he had “very good, if not great speed.”
What impresses scouts on the defensive side of the football is his smooth backpedal, the turn of the hips as the receiver makes his break, and then the ability to press the receiver to the sideline with his back side as he runs with the wideout stride-for-stride.
As for the cornerback position, KeiVarae Russell is off to the NFL. Cole Luke and Devin Butler have one year of eligibility remaining. Nick Watkins, who started the Fiesta Bowl because of injuries to Russell and Butler, will have two years left. Nick Coleman, a rising sophomore, played in 2015 and has three years left. Shaun Crawford and Ashton White will be redshirt freshmen. Crawford was expected to see time at nickel before tearing his ACL before the 2015 season began.
In addition to the Gamecocks and Tigers, Pride also had offers from Virginia Tech – where he was committed before Frank Beamer‘s retirement – Tennessee, North Carolina and North Carolina State.