Notre Dame OT commit Josh Lugg doubles as Irish recruiter

Mike Vorel
South Bend Tribune

ADDISON, Ill. — Josh Lugg’s day was long enough already.

The 6-foot-7, 293-pound skyscraper’s Saturday started at The Opening Regional camp outside of Chicago, where he heaved medicine balls, ran 40-yard dashes and derailed opposing pass rushers in drill after drill after drill.

Despite the unseasonably harsh 40-degree weather and stereotypically unforgiving Midwestern wind, the stout offensive tackle wore a T-shirt and shorts — surrounded by media members stuffed in layers of coats and scarves.

After the camp concluded at 3:30 p.m., Lugg faced a daunting seven-and-a-half-hour drive from Chicago to his home in Wexley, Pa., cutting east across Indiana and Ohio with his bed waiting on the other side.

He could have breezed right by South Bend, an afterthought in the middle of a grueling marathon on Saturday.

But for one of Notre Dame’s most steadfast commits, it was the perfect time for an impromptu visit.

“I’m probably going to stop by for dinner tonight,” Lugg said after the camp with a grin.

A consensus four-star prospect, Lugg hasn’t wavered from the verbal commitment he made last August. On the contrary, three more players from western Pennsylvania — 2017 linebacker David Adams and defensive tackle Kurt Hinish, and 2018 quarterback Phil Jurkovec — have since followed suit.

Each additional domino may not have fallen without the first.

“I’m forming a lot of bonds with kids all over the country,” Lugg said Saturday. “We talk to a lot of recruits. We get recruiting lists from the coach saying, ‘This is who we have to go after.’ I recruited (four-star offensive lineman) Trey Smith today, and I think we can definitely lock him up.

“It’s a great opportunity, because there’s so much diversity from around the country that you get to meet and talk to.”

As for his next visit, Lugg plans to attend Notre Dame’s lineman camp on June 25 (and stay for more than dinner).

“It’ll be my second time working with (offensive line) coach (Harry) Hiestand,” Lugg said. “I worked with him last summer, and that’s when I earned the offer from Notre Dame. This time I’m going to go more in depth with him, be able to see how he is as a coach personally with me.”

Like many of his predecessors, Lugg credits Hiestand — Notre Dame’s fifth-year offensive line coach — as a primary reason he pledged to Notre Dame. While the long, lanky offensive tackle has found success as a part-time recruiter, Hiestand’s track record and reputation sell themselves.

“He’s a great coach,” Lugg said. “He tells me what he wants me to be doing right now and in the future and how he’s going to turn me into a great player at Notre Dame. He knows his stuff, and I trust him with that.

“He’s not a fake coach. He’s very real. You can talk to any player at Notre Dame, and they’ll tell you. He’s the best in the country.”

Before Lugg makes a permanent stop in South Bend next summer, the towering offensive tackle and amateur recruiter plans to keep improving on his own.

“I want to be very fast, very agile laterally and very quick,” Lugg said. “That’s the biggest thing I’m working on right now. I’m around 290 (pounds). I weighed in at 293 this morning. I just want to stay around there and be as fast as I can.”

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Notre Dame offensive tackle commit Josh Lugg participated in The Opening Regional camp in the Chicago area last weekend (photo courtesy Student Sports).