GREER – On Saturday, Troy Pride Jr. was beaming.
He was leading the second annual Troy Pride Jr. Play Day — a youth football camp held at Greer High School’s Dooley Memorial Stadium over the weekend. The former fourth-and-a-half NFL draft pick is coming back from a torn ACL he suffered before the start of last season. It was an injury that inevitably led to him being waived by the Carolina Panthers, the franchise that drafted him in 2020, earlier this month after a failed physical designation.
“I never had that growing up.” Pride said. “I hope it’s a blessing for a kid someday and that’s all I wanted to do. I wanted to be that pillar in my community. That’s the plan.”
The event — which Pride said it hopes to continue to organize and grow each year — is just one of the things the former Greer High School football star does every year.
“The goal is to keep growing it. To have 100 to 150 kids here,” Pride said. “Then build it from there. We have plans to do things for the older kids, we have plans for skills camps, we have a lot of things in the community.
“I really want to have a positive effect on this community. They flocked to me, so I want to come back.”
Pride was a consensus top 100 rookie in his senior year: In 2015 at Greer, Pride accounted for 1,562 all-around yards, caught 41 passes for 848 yards and 13 touchdowns, and rushed 16 times for 197 yards and three touchdowns. He totaled 424 yards on kickoff and punt returns (returning three punts for touchdowns) and returned three interceptions for 54 yards and a touchdown. He was also a state champion track athlete at Greer.
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As an NFL rookie, he started eight of the 14 games he appeared in, totaling 42 tackles. Then in August 2021, he suffered the season-ending knee injury in a preseason game against the Indianapolis Colts.
Now a free agent, Pride said the opportunities were there and he had been in touch with NFL teams. But nothing is official yet, he said.
“It’s tough, but it’s like doing anything,” Pride said of recovering from his injury. “Put in to work, you’re diligent, you do what you have to do – it’s going to work. I feel healthy as I have been. I’m ready to go. We’ll see what my future holds But, like I said, I feel pretty lucky to be here.
“There are going to be a lot of opportunities, I can tell you that now.”
Pride played cornerback at Notre Dame and also ran for the Fighting Irish track team. In four seasons at Notre Dame, he had more than 130 total tackles, four interceptions and 18 pass breakups.
Pride said he was confident an opportunity in the NFL would present itself soon and that “I’ll be ready to go soon. You can tag it, you can bank it. I’ll be good to go.”
Michigan native and Michigan State University graduate Joe Dandron covers high school sports for The Greenville News. Have a question, story idea, or story tip about upstate prep sports? Email him at [email protected] or contact him by phone at 864-415-6213.