Peach State LB Interested In USC

Buford (GA) hard hitting linebacker T.J. Pridemore is one of the top defensive prospects in the Peach State's class of 2008, and the standout linebacker recently picked up an offer from Coach Shane Beamer and the South Carolina Gamecocks. Where does USC stand with this top defensive target? Read inside to find out.

The 6'2", 235 pound Pridemore, who runs a 4.55 second forty yard dash, was named to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution's All-State 1st team defense as a junior last season, and college programs around the southeast have taken notice. Pridemore now has seven impressive scholarship offers to his credit, with the most recent tender coming from South Carolina a couple of weeks ago, and the star linebacker shared his thoughts on how the recruiting process is going thus far.

"Recruiting is going good. It's non-stop, but it's a lot of fun. I have offers from South Carolina, Tennessee, West Virginia, Duke, Ole Miss, Mississippi State, and Central Florida," said Pridemore. "The South Carolina offer was an exciting offer. You really feel like they're an up and coming program, like they're really about to take off under Coach Spurrier. I went up there for their junior day, and I went up there for a visit, and I was really impressed with the staff and the facilities and all that."

Pridemore told in an earlier interview that he is good friends with two current Gamecock players, and they have let him know how much they like it in Columbia.

"There are a couple of guys I know who play for them, Yvan Banag and Jared Cook. I grew up around those guys. One plays offense and the other plays defense. When I talk to those guys, they both love the coaches there. That is impressive that both of them have nothing but good things to say about their staff."

According to Pridemore, another factor that he likes about the Gamecocks is the relationship that he has developed with his USC recruiter, Coach Shane Beamer.

"I really like Coach Beamer. He recruited me at Mississippi State, and now he's up at South Carolina. I really like him as a coach and as a recruiter. He's a very personable guy. He's a young coach, and he relates very well with the kids. He's a real fun recruiter to have, and it's exciting that he's my recruiter as well as my position coach."

Pridemore, who is also receiving strong interest from major SEC powers Florida and Georgia, said he is taking things slow and giving every school an opportunity in regards to naming favorites.

"That's the thing that makes it so difficult is that every school has something else to offer. Just when you think you like one school, the last school you visit is really your favorite, I guess. I'm really just trying to stay pretty even minded as far as the schools go. That way I don't start narrowing down my decision and then have somebody else offer. That would just make it harder."

The 2008 defensive standout knows what factors he will be looking for when deciding on his college choice.

"Really, my position coach and depth (at linebacker) are what I'm looking for as far as football goes. Of course, academics. I'd like to be in a place where I really feel like I fit in the community, and where I like the town a lot."

While Pridemore doesn't currently claim any favorites, he said that he hopes to have a decision made by the beginning of his senior season.

"Depending on who all offers and how well I like it, I would like to commit before the season starts next year, but if that's not possible, then I'd like to take a couple official visits to schools that have already offered and see how that goes. But I would like to be committed at the beginning of the fall."

With an assortment of talented linebacker prospects across the southeast this year, Pridemore shared what separates him from the rest of the pack and makes him such an elite target for college coaches.

"I'm really physical. I love to play. I'm passionate about playing. I really like to bring it all to the table during a game, and I just try to play fast and physical."

Pridemore helped lead his Buford team to a 12-1 season in 2006 before losing in the third round of the playoffs to the eventual 2A state champions, but he is motivated and ready to accomplish even bigger goals in his senior season.

"We most definitely want a state championship. Buford is known as a strong football school in the Georgia area, and we play a lot of 4A and 5A schools to try and match up because a lot of the 2A schools aren't much competition for us. We won three state championships from 2000-04, and then our senior class, my class right now, starting from our freshman year we've been to a couple of state championships, but we haven't won. So our senior class has really been working hard, and we're excited about this year."

Pridemore, who said he plans to attend a few team camps this summer, racked up 115 tackles, 3 sacks, 3 forced fumbles and 2 fumble recoveries as a junior. His father, Tom Pridemore, was the starting free safety for the Atlanta Falcons in the early 1980's, and his brother, Matt Pridemore, is a grayshirt cornerback for the Duke Blue Devils that will enroll in January of 2007.

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