Not everyone has the opportunity to be coached up by an NFL Hall of Famer, and even less have the chance to learn from arguably the best ever at their respective position. But those that attend Prime Prep Academy is Dallas, Texas, are able to pick head coach Deion Sanders' brain on a daily basis. By now, the novelty has worn off for three-star receiver James Proche, but the 6-foot, 180-pounder, who just landed a Maryland offer May 16, said it's still "really, really cool."
"I've known Deion forever, since I was a little kid, so it's like we have a relationship on and off the field," Proche said. "Before he even started coaching football I knew him, and he's someone I can talk to whenever. It's pretty cool that he's my coach though – he's a great teacher and it's always a plus to learn from the best cornerback ever."
Proche, who holds offers from UMD, Wake Forest, Houston, Louisville, TCU, SMU, North Texas, Colorado State, Tulsa and others, said the knowledge Sanders has imparted has helped him during his career.
"As a DB, he can show me what a cornerback sees and that really helps me from an offensive standpoint, because I understand what the defense is doing. I see the field a lot better and just know the game more after learning from him," Proche said. "Then he just talks about being a professional, how to carry yourself, how to act and things like that."
The recruiting game, though, is something Proche and his family will have to figure out together. With more schools showing interest and offering, Proche is starting to evaluate and research his options, while planning out several offseason visits.
The recent Maryland verbal is one that caught his eye in particular.
"That was a big one for me, but it was surprising," Proche said. "I hadn't really heard from them, I'm really glad they were interested enough to offer, because I've watched Stefon Diggs and think he's a great receiver and someone that I've picked up things from watching. I think if I went there I could do the same sort of things he's been able to do. I watched Maryland a good amount [on TV], and I'm interested in building a relationship with them."
Sanders actually let Proche know about the offer last week, but the Prime Prep wideout didn't contact UMD area recruiter Keenan McCardell until May 19. He was set to call head coach Randy Edsall May 20 in order to confirm a visit date.
"I spoke to Coach McCardell and one other coach from Marylnad whose name I can't remember," Proche said. "Basically they were telling me their background, where they came from and how I can fit into their offense. [McCardell] seemed like a great guy, and he's from the area and knows this area well. That was cool because we already have that little connection going.
"And Coach McCardell was saying how he had NFL experience and can help prepare me for the next level. That sounded great to me because one of my goals is to reach the NFL. He was telling me that they see me as a slot receiver, or a jet sweep guy – someone where they can put the ball in my hands and I'll make a play."
And what did Proche think about that?
"I definitely see myself as a slot guy. I'd love to play in the spread, but I feel like I can fit into any type of offense and make plays as long as I have the ball. I pride myself on my blocking, too, so if that's what's asked of me I'm all for it."
Proche went on to praise Maryland's Big Ten move and Under Armour affiliation, noting how Prime Prep is actually a UA school. He said he wants to visit College Park, Md., for the first time June 28 for the Terps' Under the Lights camp.
"I'm excited to get up there and see what Maryland's about," he said.
Proche does not have any clear leaders yet, however. A few months ago he was set to commit to TCU, but he admitted the Horned Frogs wouldn't accept the verbal at that time.
"I understands it's a business," Proche said. "I know how it works. I still like TCU, and I like how they're using a spread offense, but right now they're probably not a top priority. I'm just weighing my options now."
Besides the programs that have offered, Proche is receiving significant interest from Texas Tech, Vanderbilt, Tennessee, Mississippi State, Boston College, Texas A&M and Wisconsin. He said most want him to come to camps and perform before pulling the trigger, however.
One suitor he'd like to hear more from, though, is LSU.
"LSU is the school I've been looking at the most since I was young. That's where my recruits are – Louisiana," he said. "That's where my grandmother wants me to go."
So far Proche has visited Texas, Texas A&M, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Baylor, Texas Tech, SMU and TCU, with Houston up next June 13. After taking in the Cougars, he'll trip to Maryland, Louisville, Wake Forest and "anyone else that offers me if I can."
"All the schools I've seen so far were different, and they all had something for me to take away. I loved the staff at Baylor, the tradition at Texas – everyone had something to offer," said Proche, who has no conference preference. "SMU, that was a great visit. SMU was my first offer, and that one's always going to be there for me because they were first."
Currently, Proche would like to take a few visits and make his college decision by Aug. 29, which is the date of his first game. But he admitted that could change later this summer.
"It depends on who offers and how all the visits line up," Proche said. "August 29 is when I'd like to do decide, and if I know the school I want to go to by then, then that's when I'll commit. But if I'm still feeling things out, I'd like to take some official visits and wait until during or after my season."
Last year Proche hauled in over 50 passes for 1,050 yards and 14 touchdowns.
Proche Primed for Terps Visit
Pony Stampede Top Stories
SMU Football Practice Notebook: 3/28/17Pony Stampede has notes from SMU's return to the practice field on Tuesday.
Pony StampedeYesterday at 2:30 PM
Rising 2019 OLB visits SMU for scrimmageSMU got a visit from 2019 Ft. Worth (Tex.) Nolan Catholic outside linebacker Nana Osafo-Mensah, who was impressed with the visit and plans a return trip.
Pony StampedeYesterday at 6:27 AM
2018 DB has SMU in the mix as decision nearsPonyStampede talked with 2018 Prestonwood Christian defensive back Jeremiah Lewis about his interest in SMU and his decision timeline.
Pony StampedeMonday at 8:07 AM
2019 Mansfield DB talks first offer from SMU2019 Mansfield (Tex.) defensive back Miles Williams picked up his first offer from SMU on Thursday. He shared his reaction with Pony Stampede.
Pony StampedeThursday at 8:21 AM