It has been a productive break for Buford graduate Matt Pridemore.
To start his Christmas break from Duke University, where he is a freshman and a cornerback on the Blue Devils’ football team, Pridemore got to watch his brother, Buford senior T.J. Pridemore, and the rest of the Wolves beat Lovett 50-0 for the Class AA state championship on Dec. 8.
A week later, while Matt Pridemore was enjoying his break in the woods hunting, Duke hired David Cutcliffe to be the Blue Devils new football coach.
Times sports writer Jeff Cochran talked with Pridemore about watching his brother’s team, playing at the college level and going through a coaching change.
Question: How long do you have off for the holidays? How have you been spending it?
Answer: I had my last final on Dec. 12 and I’m home until Jan. 8. It’s going to be my longest break all year because, playing football, we stay up there all summer. I’ve just been hunting most of the time. I’ve been in the woods for about the last week, hanging out with old friends.
Q: Is it strange coming back home after living the college life?
A: I wouldn’t say its strange. I keep in pretty good contact with my old friends. It’s almost just like going back to high school except I know my mom complains about how I’m on college time, staying up late and sleeping in. I really enjoy it. It’s good to re-live the old days.
Q: How much of Buford’s season did you get to watch this year?
A: I watched one game. I came home and caught the state championship game. And it wasn’t much of a game. I was reading the paper every week and (mom) sent me up some clips.
Q: What was the most impressive thing about the 2007 Buford team?A: I would probably say, defensively, this is probably the best Buford team, mainly upfront and in the box.
It’s hard to say that because you might say the 2001 team had a more athletic secondary with guys like Mikey Henderson. I will say that this is the toughest defense ever to come through Buford, the most hard-nosed group.
Q: How hard was making the adjustment from high school to college in the classroom and on the field?
A: It was pretty tough. On the field, it is just a natural adjustment. You don’t really have much choice. You really do realize there is a lot higher bar that you can set for yourself. If you don’t, you’re never going to get to play. You have to really concentrate every single day on making yourself a better athlete in some way or else you’ll never see the field. It is the same way with school. I really had to make an adjustment as far as my discipline and organization in order to maintain my academic schedule and balance that with football.
Q: What is an average day like for you during the season?A: Usually, during the week, we have practice from 7:30 a.m. to about 11:15 a.m. and I would have class from 1 p.m. to about 4:30 p.m. Then we would have position meetings at 6 p.m. for football two days of the week and then the other two days we would have weight lifting.
That was Monday through Thursday because on Friday we would travel for games.
Q: What is it like playing in the Atlatic Coast Conference?
A: It’s eye-opening. I never really thought about it going into it. But playing in stadiums like FSU and Notre Dame, playing some of these big time schools the atmosphere is wild. It’s a fun atmosphere.
Q: How much playing time did you get this year?
A: I really didn’t get much on defense but I played a good bit on special teams. I played on most of the special teams in every game.
Q: What is it like being on a team that is going through a coaching change?A: I feel like it was needed. At the end of the year and going through the year I felt like I really liked the coaches we had but we just weren’t winning football games.
I’m just kind of riding the roller coaster and going with the flow. I’m going to do everything I can to get on the field and let them worry about the logistics behind it.
Q: Have you gotten to know your new coach, David Cutcliffe, at all?
A: I haven’t met him or talked to him yet.
Q: Did you think he was the right man to hire?
A: Absolutely. I think he’s going to be great.