A consensus four-star prospect across the services, Pride was 22nd among cornerbacks per 24/7 Sports, 23rd per Rivals, and 16th according to Scout.com.
As Scout’s 176th ranked player overall in 2016, Pride is the third-highest ranked cornerback recruit of the Brian Kelly Era in South Bend trailing only eventual transfer Tee Shepard (2012) and teammate Shaun Crawford (2015).
- Class: Sophomore
- On the depth chart: Second string field cornerback
- Post-spring status: Unchanged
PRIDE AT HIS BEST
The true freshman appeared in eight games (all post Brian VanGorder’s dismissal) and started three, each against heavy hitters: Stanford, Miami, and USC.
Pride produced 12 stops – a combined nine of them against the Hurricanes and Trojans when he was on the receiving end of opposing passer’s attention.
His best individual effort as a competitor occurred against the Trojans when among his four tackles was a stop for loss against Adoree Jackson on a second quarter punt return at the USC 10-yard line, then later when Pride recovered a Jackson fumble near midfield – the latter set up an Irish scoring drive that cut the host’s lead to 10, 24-14 early in the second stanza.
Pride – who clocked in Greer High School (South Carolina) at 4.38 seconds in the 40-yard dash and 10.88-seconds in the 100-meters – ran an indoor 6.77 60-meters, and outdoor 10.60 100-meters for the Notre Dame Track team last winter.
“For Troy, gaining strength and power is going to be crucial.” – Irish cornerbacks coach Todd Lyght
BEST CASE SCENARIO
Three cornerback roles seem set, and each would appear, on paper, as team strengths:
- Julian Love as the starting field cornerback
- Nick Watkins as the starting boundary
- Shaun Crawford as the starting nickel
That leaves Pride and classmate Donte Vaughn to vie for “Next Man In” status should injury befall one of the top trio – unfortunately, it probably will.
Pride concluded spring ball as the backup to Love at the field position, but Love could also occasionally switch to safety in certain passing situations if deemed necessary – and it probably will be deemed necessary.
It’s up to Pride to claim that field cornerback spot in Love’s stead, and to play well in a reserve role otherwise.
With his speed, Pride should win a starting position covering both kickoffs and punts as well as compete for a starting “Ranger” role as one of two outside corners defending opposing punt team gunners.
WORST CASE SCENARIO
Could Pride’s time spent with the Irish track team have a potential lingering effect this fall?
“Troy’s working hard, said cornerbacks coach Todd Lyght. “With him running track, it took away from some of his development physically in the weight room. He needs to do a little catching up there.”
Lyght offered that critique early in the spring session – it is to be hoped four months of football training would negate any relevant weight room deficit for one of Notre Dame’s fastest players.
But someone among Notre Dame’s top 5 cornerbacks – each of which has starting experience – is going to be relegated to less playing time than the remaining quartet. With every member of the group returning for 2018 that’s not an easy pill to swallow for any former starter.
In 2006, freshman cornerback Darrin Walls concluded his rookie campaign with eight games played and two starts, finishing with 10 tackles and a pass breakup – numbers comparable to Pride’s 8 games/3 starts plus 12 stops and fumble recovery.
Walls, who clocked a 4.40 prep 40-yard dash time, went on to start 32 games through the 2010 season in South Bend. He made nearly 150 appearances on the Irish specialty units.
Pride’s sophomore season won’t likely include 12 starts as did Walls – then again, the former’s freshman season wasn’t supposed to feature three starting assignments against Notre Dame’s three toughest foes, either.