Looking to experience the game day atmosphere of Kenan Stadium, Virginia Tech verbal commitment Troy Pride Jr. returned to North Carolina on Saturday.
“Well, it was a blow out, so I really didn’t get to see a lot of the intense moments,” Pride said. “But the crowd was pretty loud from the beginning – I kind of expected that. But when [UNC] started pulling away it kind of got [quiet]. But it was great. The fans were out there – they were all crazy. I saw them all just walking through. The community was really loud.”
Pride, a 6-foot, 165-pound cornerback from Greer (S.C.), verbally committed to Virginia Tech in February. Prompted by a UNC offer, he visited Chapel Hill a month after his pledge.
Saturday was Pride’s first chance to interact with the UNC coaches in person since his March visit. Specifically, he spoke with Gunter Brewer, Larry Fedora, and Charlton Warren.
“I always seem to miss Coach [Gene] Chizik,” Pride said. “He’s been up to my school a couple times, but we can’t talk then. And when I’ve been on campus, I haven’t been able to talk with him.”
Pride actually met with Brewer, who is handling his recruitment, and Warren, UNC’s secondary coach in their offices.
“Coach Brewer and I, we talked about aspects of my recruitment and just everything that he’s thinking about and I’m thinking about,” Pride said. “And then I saw Coach Warren and we chatted it up, because he came to one of my games two weeks ago.
“They both expressed how much they really want me, what they’re really about, and how they’re still pushing regardless if I’m committed or not. It shows how they value me as a player and a person.”
As a bonus, Pride and his mother also met with Mitch Mason, UNC’s team chaplain.
“He’s a great man,” Pride said of Mason.
In addition to Saturday’s 66-31 blowout of Duke, Pride caught UNC’s season opening loss to South Carolina on TV.
“They didn’t win against South Carolina, but their defense definitely showed a lot of improvement from last year,” Pride said. “North Carolina has always been known for a high powered offense but a defense that couldn’t stop anybody. But [the defense] is definitely improving. To sit Duke down like they did was a great showing.”
While most of Virginia Tech’s commitments didn’t begin exploring outside options until Frank Beamer announced his retirement, Pride was visiting schools almost as soon as he pledged to the Hokies.
“I’m still evaluating my options so that I can make the right decision for me,” Pride said. “I just want to be able to go to a place where I can call home and get all the teachings to become a better person. I really want to be at a place that will grow me as a player and as a man.”
Along those lines, Pride figures to continue taking official visits. UNC, Tennessee, and of course Virginia Tech are destinations under consideration. Those trips would likely occur after the season.
Pride has already taken an official trip to Notre Dame.
“Their coaching staff is great,” Pride said of the Irish. “They’re still hounding me, because they want me up there.”
Undefeated Greer begins the playoffs on Friday when it hosts Travelers Rest (S.C.). Pride has been a big piece of Greer’s success. On the season, he has collected 35 tackles, three interceptions, 15 pass breakups, and three field goal blocks. He returned one of his picks for a touchdown, which brought his touchdown count to 16.