Virginia Tech retained Bud Foster. The No. 1 team offered this month. And a trio of SEC programs pleaded their case for an official visit in January.
In the end, none of that mattered.
Notre Dame landed one of its top defensive back prospects in Troy Pride Jr. this afternoon because of the relationships formed with Irish assistants Autry Denson and Todd Lyght.
“My recruiting coaches at Notre Dame are the reason why I chose them,” Pride said. “They have done a great job. They could be anywhere in the country recruiting, and they have shown that they specifically want me. They were in my house recruiting me and talking to my family when they could have been anywhere.”
The Greer, S.C., product took his official visit to Notre Dame for the USC game in October. Denson and Lyght went in-home with the Pride family the first and second weeks of December, respectively.
“I decided I didn’t need to wait anymore to make a decision,” Pride said. “I have done my homework and I know what the best place is for me. Notre Dame wanted me from the beginning. They showed that they wanted me every day.”
Pride de-committed from Virginia Tech in November, and Notre Dame has held the top spot ever since.
“Notre Dame has so much to offer,” Pride said. “The tradition they preached up there during my official visit was magical. It’s a special place up there.”
Pride was joined by his mother and father and three siblings on his official visit to Notre Dame.
“My parents were very instrumental,” Pride said. “Sometimes I needed to be coached up on what to say sometimes. We were all going through the process together and we were all learning. It’s great that I have two great parents that can direct my view on certain things. If it was up to only me, I wouldn’t be here.”
When the 5-foot-11, 165-pound cornerback gets to South Bend next summer he’ll bring some extra motivation from home, specifically the fact in-state programs Clemson and South Carolina didn’t move on him until after his senior season. Clemson didn’t offer until last week despite being barely an hour away from Greer.
“The thing I really have that separates me is my drive and determination and work ethic,” Pride said. “My mindset is I that I am going to out work you in the off-season before we meet on the field in the fall. I have a chip on my shoulder and I like being under the radar.
“There may be players that are ranked higher than me, but no one will outwork me in the weight room, or will run more hills than me or do more ladders than me. That’s my mantra coming into college.”
Pride is Notre Dame’s 21st commitment in the Class of 2016 and seventh defensive back.