GREER– In a recent span of 14 days, Greer High senior Troy Pride watched Dabo Swinney dance in the Clemson locker room, stood on the sidelines at Neyland Stadium as the throng belted out “Rocky Top” and experienced a celebration in the shadow of the Golden Dome.
He saw Notre Dame lose and Notre Dame win, with a Vol Walk in between.
“I’m getting to meet a bunch of great coaches, and discussing football with them is amazing,” Pride said earlier this week, just after practice and just before a lifting session.
“It’s making my decision even more difficult. I’m just taking it all in, just trying to be the best me I can be.”
Third-ranked Greer (8-0, 5-0) will host Southside (7-1, 4-1) Friday night in a game that could determine the top seed in the Peach Blossom AAA Region.
The 6-foot, 175-pound Pride, who’s being recruited as a cornerback, has also starred as a wide receiver and return man for the Yellow Jackets since transferring from Riverside before his junior year.
He committed to Virginia Tech in February, but he won’t sign a National Letter of Intent until this coming February and he continues to research all 10 of the schools that have offered him scholarships, although not at the expense of his team or his studies.
“I think he’s obviously handled it extremely well, if you look at his relationship with his teammates and just the fact that he’s giving it up every Friday night,” Greer coach Will Young said.
“His main goal right now is to win football games at Greer High School, and what’s crazy is that as he’s doing that, he’s probably getting more attention because he’s becoming a better football player every time he steps on the field.”
In a recent span of 15 days, Pride stepped on six fields. He played on three of them and imagined himself on the other three.
Oct. 2: Eastside at Greer
The game became best-known for, as Pride called it, “Twitter-beefing,” because there was a lot of talk on social media ahead of time.
However, after kickoff, the Jackets were less about talk and more about performance. Pride helped break the game open in the second quarter with two punt returns for touchdowns, leading to a 48-7 Greer rout.
On the first, Eastside punted from the back of its end zone, and Pride hauled it in at the Eagles’ 28-yard line.
“We do a great job of getting the wall set up, and it was easy sailing from there,” he said.
Later in the quarter, Pride grabbed another punt, spun away from a would-be tackler and raced 77 yards for a touchdown.
Pride, whose brother, Chance, is a sophomore at Eastside and one of the Eagles’ top playmakers, capped off the Jackets’ scoring by catching a 49-yard touchdown pass from Mario Cusano in the third quarter.
Oct. 3: Notre Dame at Clemson
The next day, Troy Pride was at Clemson for the Tigers’ highly anticipated game against Notre Dame. It was an unofficial visit, but it was officially raining a lot.
“I think I would have seen a little more if it was a clear sky, but it was still awesome,” Pride said. “It was an amazing experience.”
He enjoyed watching the Run Down the Hill; getting an up-close look at the Tigers’ Mackensie Alexander, one of the best corners in the country; and, after Clemson’s 24-22 victory was secure, witnessing Dabo’s dance with the team.
Pride said he hopes to get back to take another look around the campus when things are a little drier. However, at this point, he has no offer from Clemson; nor does he have an offer from South Carolina.
“I’m trying to make it to where they can’t ignore me anymore, trying to play well every week,” Pride said.
The proximity to home would make either attractive.
“My parents would be able to make every game,” he said. “I would know so many Carolina and Clemson fans that I’d be encouraged every day.”
Two days after the visit to Clemson, Pride and teammate Dorian Lindsey were chosen for the Shrine Bowl.
Oct. 9: Greer at Berea
The Jackets, at the top of the region, weren’t expected to have any trouble with the team at the bottom of the region, and they didn’t.
Pride and Cusano hooked up to set Greer’s 61-0 victory in motion, the play covering 54 yards.
“He just laid it out there for me — a high-arcing, great pass, right over the safety,” Pride said. “It was really him.
“He’s lights-out right now. He’s definitely playing to the best of his ability, rushing the ball, passing the ball. We’re clicking because he’s leading the team. He’s got everything rolling.”
Oct. 10: Georgia at Tennessee
The next day, Pride and his parents were off to Knoxville, Tennessee, for an unofficial visit with the Volunteers.
“It was awesome being at Rocky Top,” he said. “Their locker room, their end zone, thousands of people screaming. … When you’re scoring, they’re screaming. I saw the Vol Walk. My tour was really great.
“Tennessee was the first place I saw with a barber shop inside of their facilities, so you can get your haircut right after practice. That’s crazy. Their weight room was about as big as our gym right here.”
Even the Vols themselves stood strong that day. They rallied to beat Georgia 38-31, adding a little spice to the visit.
Oct. 16: Greer at Chapman
In a game that was huge for the Jackets as far as maintaining their hold on the top playoff seed, Pride did his part in setting the tone.
Midway through the first quarter, Cusano flipped a pass out to the left flat, and Pride made an 80-yard beeline to the end zone.
Early on, he split a pair of defenders who waved at him, and he picked up nice blocks from fellow wideouts Lindsey and Alex Syphertt. The rest was a blur.
As a junior, Pride ran a 4.4 in the 40-yard dash at a Nike combine, and he said Young timed him at 4.38.
In the state track meet last year, Pride was the Class AAA champion in the 400-meter dash, and he placed fourth in the 200 and sixth in the 100.
Speed is his calling card.
Later in the half, Pride beat a defender down the right sideline, and Cusano hit him in stride for a 28-yard touchdown. Then Pride picked off a pass to half a Chapman drive.
Greer built up a 28-0 halftime lead and held on for a 35-21 victory.
About three hours later, Pride and his parents began a 10-and-a-half-hour trek to South Bend, Indiana.
Oct. 17: Southern Cal at Notre Dame
By 1 p.m., Pride was heading to the facilities at Notre Dame.
“I got a chance to see everything I wanted to see,” Pride said. “I think it was a phenomenal visit.”
As was the case with the trip to Clemson, the only challenge was the weather. The temperature was in the 30s.
“I kind of under-packed, so I had to buy a beanie and some stuff when I got there,” Pride said.
Fortunately, he didn’t have trouble keeping warm.
“When they would score, we’d do some pushups with the guys,” Pride said. “It would get our blood flowing a little bit.”
Notre Dame provided plenty of opportunities for push-ups in its 41-31 win.
Pride and the other recruits sat next to the student section and were right in the mix when the players came over to sing the alma mater afterward.
“Everybody was happy, and everybody was smiling,” he said. “It’s more enthusiastic when you get the win. They sing it better.”
Oct. 20: Greer High gymnasium
Two days after returning from his first official visit, Pride said he is still committed to Virginia Tech.
“I definitely feel solid about them,” he said. “I loved everything I saw up there. They have a family oriented coaching staff. I still think it’s a great opportunity.”
Pride said he first heard from Virginia Tech in December. He attended the Hokies’ Junior Day Feb. 14 and committed eight days later. He said Virginia Tech secondary coach Torrian Gray warned him that a lot of other schools would follow the Hokies’ lead.
“He actually told me and my family that if we have to take visits, that’s fine,” Pride said. “He was like, ‘I want you to make the best decision for you.’ He was definitely out after my well-being. I definitely respect him for that.”
Along with Virginia Tech, Notre Dame and Tennessee, Pride also has offers from Marshall, North Carolina, Appalachian State, Maryland, Michigan, Georgia Tech and North Carolina State.
As important as his future is, Pride takes care of his present. He maintains a 3.8 grade-point average in the school’s International Baccalaureate program, and he’s all in when it comes to his team.
“It’s pretty unique to have a high school student that can manage what he manages academically, not to mention what he’s managing from a recruiting standpoint, and still be able to keep a good, level head and be a good high school football player,” said Young.
“That’s the fear sometimes, that you get a kid who commits early or gets a lot of attention early, before they’ve actually reached their prime, and they never reach it in high school. They just kind of float through that senior year, and then they go to college, and they maybe peak there.
“But the thing that’s pretty special about Troy this year is that in each of our first eight games, I think he’s gotten better and better. He’s the real deal now. He’s worthy of all the attention he’s getting.”
Worthy perhaps, but not consumed by it. He’s focused on the classroom, his team and his decision.
“It’s definitely a long way till February,” he said.
A lot can happen each time he steps on a field.