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Notre Dame Football

Carolina Panthers CB Troy Pride Jr. A True Professional

April 29, 2020

The Carolina Panthers are in a new era.

Matt Rhule is in, Luke Kuechly and Cam Newton are out. 

As with any new head coaching change, Rhule is focused on developing his culture and it's one that's centered around defense. 

The Panthers had seven draft picks and took seven defensive players, including former Notre Dame cornerback Troy Pride Jr. 

"As we got into the fourth, we felt really good about Troy and here's a guy that he's from right down the road," stated Rhule. "He's a track athlete. When you're a track athlete, you're a little bit of a perfectionist technique‐wise. You're into training. 

I had a great video conference with him the one day and my wife was actually cooking on the other side where I was doing the video conference and afterward she said 'Who was that? That's a professional.' 

"Just a really, really mature guy and he's played a lot of football. So in a year where there is no off‐season program, no OTAs as of right now, I think he has the maturity to come in and help us in training camp."

Pride's development over the last two years leans towards Rhule hitting the evaluation to a T. 

Notre Dame football coach Brian Kelly would be the first to say Pride is ready for the NFL as the South Carolina native showed growth. 

"Troy can be an emotional guy sometimes," explained Kelly. "He's very competitive as well, but letting it go and moving on to the next point - I think he's done a nice job of building that in his time here. 

"I think early in his career, he would let a play affect him. I think last year, he was better at it. Then this past year, he got really good at it, where he can move on to the next play. I think that's just the maturation of a young man understanding how that position itself requires just to be balanced mentally, play in and play out, and knowing that you're going to have your good plays and bad plays, but keep playing one play at a time." 

Pride's athletic traits and his speed are what scouts and coaches were most intrigued about after an impressive showing at the Reese's Senior Bowl. 

Rhule saw Pride at the NFL Combine run 4.40, but he'd also be the first to say the 5-foot-11, 193-pounder is faster. 

"Troy was someone that the scouts brought to us," Rhule said. "Troy ran 4.42 and probably could've ran 4.32. I'd say the Combine was when I first dove into them. I saw Troy at the Senior Bowl." 

4.28 is the fastest 40 Pride ran at Notre Dame and his speed gives him confidence that he's ready to handle the NFC South's deep wealth of receivers and quarterbacks. 

"I've already envisioned that," Pride said of facing the incredible talent in the NFC South. "I'm already setting myself up for that. I've always been working for the best and to have the best in our division – Michael Thomas, Julio Jones, Mike Evans, Tom Brady, Drew Brees, and all those guys, Matt Ryan – it's going to be wonderful. 

"You relish those opportunities. You relish that moment to compete against the best because, shoot, the cream's going to rise to the top."

Kelly also believes Pride is ready for a stiffer challenge. 

"I think he's prepared himself to move towards that next level," stated Kelly. "There's another level for him because he's going to step up in terms of even the players he went up against at Notre Dame. He went against some really good ones - the Michael Pittman's of the world. Going against Chase Claypool every day was a great way for him to develop that as well. 

"Troy's ready for it. He put himself in that position. Every time we went one-on-one, he was going against Chase Claypool. That's a tough matchup, especially on the short field.

"He'll be ready for it. He knows there is another level for him, but I'm confident he's up for the challenge." 

Pride is also is carrying his fourth-round selection as a chip on his shoulder as he enters his first days as a Carolina Panther. 

"Absolutely," said Pride when asked if teams made a mistake by passing on him. "No question. I think that the potential I have and the way that I work is going to set me up for success and the Carolina Panthers will see that success. 

"Everyone else will just have to watch from afar. I'm not mad at anybody. I'm not bitter. But I know how I work, I know what I'm capable of and I'm going to get to it." 

ISD Draft Diary | Troy Pride Jr. Part IV

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