The Buford players who are looking at many NCAA D-1 schools do talk a good bit about recruiting in addition to their current football team. One thing that has come up before was the question of whether any of them would consider playing college ball together. "We've talked about going somewhere together a little bit, but it hasn't been something we've been extremely serious about," said Pridemore. "I know me and Omar Hunter have talked about it. We'd like to do that, but we haven't really found a school that has both offered us and that we both like extremely well. Especially for me at this point in the process, I'm really just waiting for everything to happen before I start eliminating everybody down and Omar, I think he's already starting to pick where he wants to go. So, we're in different stages right now."
T.J. is probably being a little modest though because his offer list, while probably not what Omar's is right now, is nothing to sneeze at. T.J. currently claims offers from, "Mississippi State, Duke, Ole Miss, Tennessee, West Virginia, South Carolina, Central Florida, Georgia Tech, Maryland, North Carolina State, and I think that's about it."
When asked what other schools which haven't offered would also be of interest to him Pridemore replied, "I went down to Florida and was impressed with them."
Some of the junior days and other unofficial visits T.J. has taken to date include: Ole Miss, Georgia, South Carolina, Tennessee, Florida and Duke. Additionally, he's been spotted at a Georgia Tech spring practice.
The subject of favorites isn't one T.J. is really ready to address just yet. "It's so early for me," said Pridemore. "I'm starting to get more offers right now and Omar's really already been through all of it. He's pulled in a lot of offers already. I think he's attracted to schools up north some. I'm not sure how far north I want to go or any of that yet, but Omar has been real interested in Michigan and Notre Dame, and we went down to Florida together and we both really liked Florida."
As mentioned, T.J.'s father Tom was also a football star. He was a graduate of West Virginia before becoming a free safety for the Falcons. T.J. talked about similarities between he and his father and what his dad told him about on and off field demeanor. "Everybody tells me I play really physical like he did," said Pridemore. "Everybody that I talk to says that my dad had a different motor on the field and off the field. They talked about how nice of a guy he was off the field and people really respect him off the field, but when he was on the field he was just a totally different person. He taught me growing up that that's how the game should be played between whistles - you're a different person on the field than you are off."
Speaking of demeanor, one of the more memorable Falcons from the 1980's was another fellow safety, Scott Case. I asked if his family kept up with Case, another bone rattling defensive back in the NFL. It turns out that the families are very close indeed. "They are actually best friends and own a business together," said Pridemore. "I grew up with Scott's youngest son. Both families have 4 kids – same age, same sex – and we've grown up together with them and been real close with them."
For long-time Falcon fans, the list of former players with kids T.J. keeps up with is like a trip down memory lane. He talked about children of LB Buddy Curry, DL Jeff Merrow, and CB Bobby Butler.
T.J. will eventually start to narrow the field of college possibilities. He does have a sense right now on his timeframe, even if he's not currently in a huge hurry. "Yes sir, I'd like to start making decisions before the season starts next year, before my senior season gets cranked up," Pridemore said. "I'm not in a big hurry right now but that's just kind of how I feel. I'd like to be done before football starts, before the end of the summer. As far as eliminating schools right now, I just feel like with offers coming in, I don't want to start eliminating schools and putting some schools out and then getting more offers and starting the process over again."
Building relationships and winning football will be important factors for T.J. "I want to go somewhere I can play and somewhere that I really get along with the coach – my position coach and the head coach," said Pridemore. "Someone that's winning ballgames - I'd like to be somewhere that's like a football school."
Does that mean he's going to focus on the big schools and big conferences? "A little bit – ACC/SEC, they're both pretty big conferences anyway and that's the majority of schools that have offered me," said Pridemore.
T.J. says there's not a particular pull to play where his father played. Pridemore said, "He's really excited about the process and he's really excited about everything that has happened. He just says wherever I pick to go to school for the next four years is where I'm going to go. So he really hasn't pushed me in any direction with any school."