Jacob Lacey's commitment helps perpetuate Notre Dame's surge in defensive line recruiting

Eric Hansen
South Bend Tribune

The most tenuous part of Notre Dame’s football present — interior defensive line play — continues to trend toward a promising future.

Bowling Green (Ky.) junior-to-be Jacob Lacey’s verbal commitment is the latest emphatic step in that direction. The 6-foot-2, 300-pound defensive tackle from South Warren High let Irish head coach Brian Kelly and defensive line coach Mike Elston know his intentions Friday night, then he leaked it to the public on Saturday afternoon.

Lacey chose the Irish over Clemson, Michigan, Tennessee and Penn State, among others.

“He’s the best player at any position in Kentucky in 2019,” CBS Sports recruiting analyst Tom Lemming said. “He’s the kind of player that Notre Dame needs. He’ll probably be 320 by the time he arrives at Notre Dame.

“He’s got a great first step. I mean he’s a legit, big-time guy. He’s better than four stars. I’d say four stars-plus.”

Lacey is Notre Dame’s fifth verbal commitment over the past two weeks and fourth in a seven-day hot streak. The run started with Nevada junior quarterback Cade McNamara on July 17, the first Irish commit in the 2019 class.

North Carolina running back Jahmir Smith followed on Sunday, then New Jersey rover Shayne Simon Tuesday and California linebacker Jack Lamb on Thursday night. All three of them are part of ND’s 15-man 2018 class. Lacey becomes No. 2 in the 2019 group.

“What Notre Dame has been doing lately is impressive,” Lemming said. “Mike Elston has always recruited big-time guys, like Jaylon Smith. The surprise to me is new defensive coordinator Mike Elko.

“When you’re at a place like Wake Forest (Elko’s previous coaching stop), it’s hard to tell if you can recruit. We all knew he could coach. But since he’s been at Notre Dame, he’s kind of spread his wings and let people know he can be really good at the recruiting part of things. He’s standing out so far.”

ND added three interior defensive linemen in the 2017 cycle, led by four-star Virginia prospect Darnell Ewell. The strong run has perpetuated into the 2018 cycle with the commitments of Jayson Ademilola — whose twin Justin is a defensive end commit — and Ja’mion Franklin, who Lemming believes is a talented sleeper prospect.

“These are the kinds of interior defensive linemen Notre Dame has needed for a while,” Lemming said. “Every one of those guys will help the Irish. And Jacob Lacey may turn out to be the best of them all.”

Congrats brotha made the best decision ?? @JacobLacey6

— JUSTIN ADEMILOLA (@JustinAdemilola) July 29, 2017

What a week for them D-Boyz!!! The echoes are starting to stir in South Bend! Who's next #IrishBouND18#FightClub19

— Coach Mike Elko (@CoachMikeElko) July 29, 2017

This one is BIG time. Great anchor to the #FightClub19 and a perfect fit! ? pic.twitter.com/Kq1SB3mAR5

— Aaryn Kearney (@kearney_ak) July 29, 2017

Great Finish to an already AWESOME week!!#FightClub19

— Mike Elston (@CoachMikeElston) July 29, 2017

The future ?????? @Jamion_Franklin@JacobLacey6

— Jayson k. Ademilola (@jaysonademilola) July 29, 2017

Congrats brotha! Let's get this 2019 class goin???? @JacobLacey6

— Cade McNamara (@Cademac_QB) July 29, 2017

Welcome to the fam Lil bro!!!! #WeAreND@JacobLacey6

— Markese Stepp (@markese_stepp) July 29, 2017

Told y'all bro knew where home was @JacobLacey6

— 55. (@Jamion_Franklin) July 29, 2017

@Jamion_Franklin awesome photo!! pic.twitter.com/UKSMI1KrsC

— David Lacey (@revmackd10) July 29, 2017

@JacobLacey6 you just made a big time move... congrats ??

— Ovie (@OvieOghoufo) July 29, 2017