Prized DE Lucier-South puts Notre Dame on itinerary

South Bend Tribune

Keisean Lucier-South already has Notre Dame penciled into his fall schedule.

When Stanford travels from California for an Oct. 4 game at Notre Dame, the junior prospect plans to do the same. His interest has been piqued with a relationship developed with a number of Irish assistant coaches, including Bob Elliott, Mike Denbrock and Brian VanGorder.

“They're doing a good job,” Lucier-South said. “They're honest. They always tell me academics first and then football and I really like that. They don't want to talk about football the whole time. They want to talk about life. I have a great relationship with them.”

The defensive end from Orange, Calif., recently included the Irish in his top list of 16 schools under consideration. The list stretched to 17 with an offer from Florida State. The Irish have managed to carve out a spot in the crowded recruitment of the 6-foot-5, 230-pound prospect.

The presence of VanGorder became the newest addition last week when the Irish defensive coordinator made a visit to Lucier-South’s school, Orange Lutheran.

“I was pretty pumped. I was like, ‘Wow, the defensive coordinator is here,’” Lucier-South said. “I knew he was some other places, but I was surprised he came here.”

Lucier-South’s good vibes for Notre Dame stem from the aftermath of his Irish offer in October. Lucier-South remembers watching three Notre Dame games last season — the victory over USC and the losses to Michigan and Stanford. Michigan and UCLA pose as the biggest threats to land Lucier-South.

“I honestly like Notre Dame,” Lucier-South said. “They really play hard, especially their D-linemen last year, (Louis) Nix and (Stephon) Tuitt. I really watched them the whole time.”

247Sports slates Lucier-South as a five-star prospect, the No. 3 weakside defensive end and No. 27 overall in the 2015 class. Rivals ranks him as a four-star prospect, the No. 6 weakside defensive end and No. 75 overall.

With such a high-profile recruitment, a commitment for Lucier-South might not come until close to February’s signing day. He plans to trim his list of schools in the neighborhood of 10 shortly before his senior season this fall.

Meanwhile, Lucier-South wants to keep the majority of his attention on improving as an all-around defensive player.

“With my hands, I'm trying to learn some more moves now,” Lucier-South said. “I need to have more weapons for the future. This year, I'll be playing outside linebacker, so I'm trying to practice dropping back and all that. Pass rushing right now is the biggest focus.”

Irish invasion

Notre Dame hopes to add a bit more flair to its summer camp session in June. Head coach Brian Kelly even hinted at bouncy castles. The result? The June 20 elite camp branded “Irish Invasion.”

The Irish annually hold summer camps at Notre Dame for top prospects, but this year the coaching and recruiting staffs are working to build the camp into something bigger. Recruits have been receiving invites throughout the spring.

“I think if you can make it a special event and really try to bring in other pieces around it, it makes it more attractive for them to want to come to it,” Kelly said recently at the Irish Legends golf outing at Olympia Fields (Ill.) Country Club. “So we wanted to do something a little bit more and add a little bit more than just your traditional ‘come to our camp.’”

The goal, as always, is to bring top prospects from around the country onto campus. The change comes in the marketing and promoting of the event as the place to be on June 20. Notre Dame wants to create an atmosphere that top recruits make time for because of the other talent expected on campus.

“Essentially it's just the way we're communicating the event more so than anything else,” Kelly said. “We're making it a family event, too. We're trying to get the families to come to it. So there's going to be bouncy things out there for kids — it's going to have a carnival kind of atmosphere to it.”

“We're flying in coaches from all over the country, high school coaches, to work this camp. We're bringing in sponsors to sponsor this event. So there's much more of an investment in all of those realms to this particular event."

A number of programs like Florida, Georgia and Ohio State have had success with similarly branded camps. The most successful are often schools with a deep recruiting pool in its region, a challenge Notre Dame has faced in making previous camps bigger.

Staff writer Eric Hansen contributed to this report. | 574-235-6214 | Twitter: @TJamesNDI

Notre Dame defensive coordinator Brian VanGorder is involved in the recruitment of Keisean Lucier-Smith. SBT Photo/GREG SWIERCZ