The Hurry-Up is your nightly dose of updates from the Ohio State football recruiting trail, keeping tabs on the latest from commits and targets from around the country.
Pride breaks down top seven, talks decision timeline
When you’re an under-the-radar prospect – or, in essence, not really on the radar at all – sometimes all it takes is the right time and place for you to catch fire for you to get noticed. You just have to have a great day that shows off your skill set, measurables and numbers in front of the right people.
For St. Louis cornerback Toriano Pride, a 2022 previously hidden gem out of Lutheran North, that day was Saturday, July 11, 2020. That’s the day he competed at the Elite Underclassmen Camp at Fortress Obetz in Ohio.
Heading into that day, Pride was ranked as the No. 332 overall prospect by 247Sports, and he would be moved down to No. 398 when the new rankings were released (which didn’t take into account that camp performance in Obetz). But at that camp, he shined, and his film got into the hands of the right people.
In the same setting that hosted four-star Ohio State cornerback commit Jyaire Brown, it was Pride whose performance was noticed most by college scouts and assistant coaches. He used his 5-foot-11, 175-pound frame to showcase his physicality, fluid instincts at the position and perhaps his best trait, speed, in which he exploded out of his breaks.
He credits that camp for really putting him on the map and blowing up his ranking and his recruitment. He went from being unranked on the composite to No. 234 overall with a No. 27 ranking at cornerback and No. 6 in the state of Missouri. (In 247Sports’ own rankings, he went from being ranked in the 300s all the way up to No. 73 overall as it stands today).
Following another standout performance at the NFA 7-on-7 East Regional in February, where he was named the event's Alpha Dog by 247Sports, Pride's composite ranking now sits at No. 124 overall, No. 14 CB and No. 3 in Missouri.
Another PBU for Toriano Pride here pic.twitter.com/V5Jr7UAw2D— Steve Wiltfong (@SWiltfong247) February 21, 2021
It's a massive rise for a player whose recruitment has become a battle among national powers.
“I’d still be ranked in the 300s if I didn’t go to that camp,” Pride told Eleven Warriors. “I didn’t have big-time offers until I went to this camp. That was big time.”
After that camp performance, the offers flew in from all over. Three days later, it was Oregon. Then Kentucky. Then Ohio State, Notre Dame, Clemson, Oklahoma and Texas A&M in August and Alabama in September. On Wednesday of this week, Georgia added its name to the list as well.
His offer sheet now stands at 25 schools, and the four-star defensive back narrowed it down on Friday afternoon to a top seven, he announced on Twitter, one day after he accepted an invitation to the All-American Bowl.
Earlier this week, Pride broke down that top seven with Eleven Warriors, sharing some of the reasons that Ohio State, Clemson, Alabama, Georgia, Oregon, Missouri and Auburn made the cut. There was a common theme – relationships and comfortability between Pride and his family and each respective coaching staff.
- Ohio State – “I’m a real big relationships type of guy. I’m not committing anywhere where I don’t have a good relationship, or my family doesn’t have a good relationship with the coaches. I have a great relationship with Coach (Kerry) Coombs, I have a pretty good relationship with Coach (Ryan) Day. They make me feel like a priority. And it’s DBU. That’s Ohio State, so you can never go wrong with that. I love the school.”
- Alabama – “I talk to Coach (Nick) Saban every other week. I talk to Coach (Freddie) Roach a lot. Coach Saban’s met my mom a few times and my dad. I love how they run their program. They really prepare guys for the league, the NFL. They produce a lot (of quality players) at my position so I look at that. I look at how many people they’ve developed before me.”
- Clemson – “I like how they run their program. I like how all the schools run their program, really. Clemson, I really like them because they’re very family oriented. I like how Coach (Dabo) Swinney is with his players, he’s very active. I always talk to Coach (Mike) Reed, he’s like family to me. He knows my grandparents and all that stuff. And they’re really low at DB (numbers).”
- Missouri – “They just got a new cornerbacks coach, I haven’t met him yet. But that’s the home state so they’ve gotta be in it. I’ve got a real great relationship with Coach (Eliah Drinkwitz), Coach Cheese (Charlie Harbison) and Coach (Steve) Wilks. They’re real good guys. They’re in the SEC, I like that.”
- Georgia – “I talk to Coach (Dan) Lanning and Coach (Jahmile) Addae almost every day. In fact, I’ve got a Zoom with them later (Wednesday). I really like the strength and conditioning coach. He seems very straightforward, and he treats his players like family. I also like how they run their program. It’s the SEC, you can’t go wrong with that.”
- Oregon – “I love Coach (Rod) Chance and Coach Marcel (Yates). Those dudes have some sense of humor. You can talk to them. I do a lot of Zooms with Coach Chance and talk a lot of ball. He’s really good at what he does, his resume really speaks for itself. He’s really good. He puts a few guys in the league, and I really like how Oregon runs their defense.”
- Auburn – “They got a new coaching staff with Coach (Derek) Mason and Coach (Zac) Etheridge, I’ve got a really good relationship with him. I was on the phone with him earlier (Wednesday), and I let him know I was putting out a top list and that they were gonna be in it. They got a new staff, but I’ve always liked Auburn ever since they offered me with the last staff with Coach (Kevin) Steele. I’ve always leaned toward them and always like them. Coach Etheridge, he has a good resume. He does really good with the defense, and I’ve always liked that program. And it’s down south.”
As of now, Pride says he and his family’s plan is to wait on making a commitment until July or August among this set of seven. In talking with him, I get the feeling that Ohio State, Clemson, Alabama and Georgia are probably at the top of the list in some order. Just like we discussed on Thursday about fellow four-star 2022 cornerback target Ryan Turner, this could wind up being an Ohio State vs. Clemson battle, though it feels a bit more spread out than centralized on just those two schools like it feels in the case of Turner.
Pride and Turner are two of Ohio State’s top cornerback targets in the class, with Austin Jordan mixed in as well, as the Buckeyes are probably looking to sign three total cornerbacks in 2022 with Jaheim Singletary and Brown already committed. Both Pride and Turner are outside cornerback targets for the Buckeyes, but each has said the staff thinks they can play nickel, too.
Pride has been to Ohio State three times, including he Buckeyes’ 2015 spring game to watch fellow St. Louis native Ezekiel Elliott – whose family is friends with Pride’s family – and to meet Urban Meyer and other Buckeyes. Pride was able to visit Columbus during his trip to the July camp in Obetz, so he is plenty comfortable with the setting.
He has visited Missouri plenty of times, and has also visited Clemson’s campus once and came away impressed.
But now is a waiting game until he can actually meet coaches in person. The only coaches he has actually met are on the Missouri staff. He has never met Coombs or Day in person. Since he’s already been to Ohio State’s campus so many times, a self-guided tour is unnecessary. He just wants to get to know the coaches, and that won’t happen until if/when the NCAA lifts the dead period that is in place until at least May 31.
Header photo: Toriano Pride – Andrew Ivins/247Sports