Photo by Rick Kimball/ISD
Notre Dame Football

Troy Pride Jr: 'If you ‘re not looking to compete, you better not be out there'

August 19, 2019

Following the 2016 season, Notre Dame football coach Brian Kelly knew his team had to change many things and it started with competition.
The changes have been well documented over the last two years and Notre Dame has created an extremely healthy environment where competition is king.
Cornerback Troy Pride Jr. might not be a vocal leader of the team, but you’ll hear him chirping at practice and he’s helped lead the charge of turning the program around.
“There’s competition everywhere as long as you can find it,” stated Pride. “That’s what corner is. If you ‘re not looking to compete, you better not be out there.”
Pride isn’t the only member of the secondary pushing the team to be better as captains Jalen Elliott and Alohi Gilman roam at the safety position. It’s allowed defensive coordinator Clark Lea to have a three-headed monster in the secondary and Pride loves the fact he has All-American talent behind him.
“It’s great,” Pride said of his safeties. “Those guys know how to make plays and change the game. To have them over the top or blitzing or doing whatever they do, it’s a comfort factor. They are going to make this defense better and make me up my game. I have to compete with what they’re doing and all the things they bring to the table.
“We’re continuing to work to be the best. That’s all we ever do.”
On the other side of the ball, Pride has become attached to the hip of 6-foot-4 receiver Chase Claypool. The two are matched up in every drill and most team periods during practice and probably are sick of each other, but both have embraced the opportunity to make each other better.
“The way he plays the ball and the things he can do are difficult to cover,” explained Pride. “That’s making me change up what I do. There are things I can do that he hasn’t seen before. He’ll ask me what I was doing on a rep and I’ll tell him because that’s how it works. You’re working to be better players each day. Yes, there are wins and losses in that, but you’re working to be the best.
“I’ve shown him things and he’s shown me things. We’ve taught each other.”
The senior cornerback has also made an adjustment to his own game this year. Pride will play more boundary cornerback, which means he’ll have to get physical and will often be matched against a bigger athlete.
“It’s about being ready for the quickness of the game, the physicality of the game and you usually see bigger receivers,” Pride stated. “You see a lot more run reads and you have to put on the shoulder of the defense to help out the Whip, the Buck and the defensive line.”
Pride played to the field in 2018, but he doesn’t feel there is a different mindset needed for the boundary.

 “You’re playing corner,” Pride said. “You can get attacked any play whether in the slot or in the box. There is no difference mentally. It’s about your assignment.”
2019 will be Pride’s last season in South Bend and as a camp veteran, he knows the Irish can’t look ahead with two weeks of camp to go.
“I’m sure everyone is ready to play,” Pride explained. “We have so much to build upon and learn. It’s day by day and every snap. You want to continue to get better. We’re not thinking ahead or in the past. We’re in the present.”
As for motivation, the Cotton Bowl is in the back of their minds and while it might not be a focal point, Pride feels they learned a lot from that night in Dallas.
“You remember the bad times, but you learn from it,” explained Pride. “Everything is a learning experience. We lost that game, but there was so much more we could have done and we know now. There is another level and we can definitely take it to another level from that game.
 “I’ve learned a lot more technique and I have a lot more in my arsenal. I know a lot more about the defense and I move a lot better. I’m stronger and that’s Coach (Matt) Balis. We worked very hard this summer.”
Pride has always been confident, but there is a quiet confidence coming from the South Carolina native whether or not he admits it or not.
 “It’s the same confidence I would have if I didn’t have a great year,” said Pride. “At corner, you have to have confidence, or you will get beat. I don’t know the numbers, but it’s about each and winning each snap and playing to the best of my ability.”

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