2019 may seem like a long time away, and in reality it is (especially considering we’re less than a month into 2017). But in terms of recruiting, 2019 is just around the corner. Michigan State is high up on the list for a current high school sophomore, who already has 8 offers, including one from the Spartans.
Jacob Lacey is a 6’2”, 301-pound defensive tackle from South Warren High School in Bowling Green, KY, and is one of the most poised, polished and professional high school sophomores you will ever meet. Not to mention, he’s had a long-standing interest and dream of Michigan State.
“When I was a little kid, I would watch Michigan State, and something about Michigan State and that defense would always make me want to go there,” Lacey told Spartan Nation. “Especially the Head Coach [Mark Dantonio] and the Defensive Line Coach, Coach [Ron] Burton…I just love everything about Michigan State, and I can’t wait to get up there.”
Lacey hasn’t actually had a chance to meet any of the coaches in person yet, though. “The first time I’ll be able to see any of the coaches is the 29th when I go up there for the Michigan/Michigan State game, and once I get there I hope to establish a great relationship with all of the coaches,” Lacey said.
And he’ll finally be on the campus of a school he dreamed of playing at growing up. Needless to say, when his offer from the Spartans came through, Jacob was speechless.
“I had no words when it came in,” Lacey recalled. “I had actually just got out of school when it was announced, and when I got it I was like, ‘This is awesome, crazy, I can’t wait to see what they have in store!’ I’m ready for everything to keep moving.”
Another perk of the Spartans for Lacey is the fact that many of the coaches are men of faith.
“Oh yeah, that’s a very big plus,” Jacob stated. “I want a coach that leads the same way I do – we think the same way, pray before games…I want to be able to have that. I’m really grateful for that, and that’s a really big plus.”
On the field, keeping in mind he’s still in his second year of high school, Jacob already knows the positives and negatives in his game.
“I feel like I’m very quick, very strong. But, as far as pass rush, I know I’m good at pass rushing, but I feel I can definitely improve at that,” he admitted.
“Basically, there’s always room for improvement everywhere, so I’m definitely going to focus on every little thing that I can.”
A huge part of that focus he talks about comes off of the football field…in academics.
“My older brother’s at West Point, so I definitely have to keep my grades up. 3.9 GPA, Straight A’s, one B…I’m definitely on top of my grades because football is not forever,” Lacey said.
He says, wherever he ends up, he plans to both play football and major in Civil Engineering…no easy task. But the importance of academics has been engrained in him his entire life.
“Basically my whole family are teachers, so you know if you act out of line or anything, they’ll get you straight,” Jacob said. “That’s why grades are so important to my family, because everybody’s been successful, and they just want to pass it down to each generation. That’s why my brother’s at West Point, my cousin’s at Washington University, so I don’t want to have to disappoint my family…that’s why I’m trying to do the best I can.”
In regards to his family, Lacey has football in his blood. Jacob is a cousin of the late, great college All-American and NFL Pro-Bowler, Dave Duerson. Despite a terrific 11-year NFL career, Duerson is perhaps better known for having CTE, the neurodegenerative disease linked to repeated concussions and hits to the head, showcased in the movie ‘Concussion.’
From a football standpoint, one of the schools that has already made an offer to Lacey is Duerson’s alma mater, Notre Dame.
“I really liked Notre Dame. We have great ties there; nothing at all to say bad about Notre Dame…very great school,” Jacob admitted.
Lacey has also visited two other schools, one that hasn’t made him an offer yet (Virginia Tech), and one that has (Tennessee).
“It was very nice; nothing bad to say about Virginia Tech. It was a very good coaching staff. Everything was great up there,” he said.
“I really like Tennessee,” Lacey continued. “We’ve been down there a couple of times, and every time we go down there, we get closer and closer. [Head Coach] Butch Jones is a great guy, and the Defensive Line Coach [Steve Stripling] down there is a really great teacher. They’re really close, so that’s a good thing, too, but distance isn’t really a problem for me.”
He’ll be traveling all over the country in the coming months for camps at various schools – Michigan State, Clemson, Ohio State, Louisville and Florida State, along with taking part in the Opening and Under Armour All-American Camps, too.
Wherever Lacey ends up, he plans to be more than just a football player. “I’m gonna help the program get the best players they can have to help us win, no matter where I’m at, and definitely give my 110% to any program that I go to, no matter what,” he promised.
Lacey put the craziness of this early recruiting process into perfect perspective – “I can’t really describe what’s been going on around here lately.”
But through all of the insanity, which is guaranteed to only increase as he gets closer to making a decision, Jacob Lacey has proven to have a tremendous head on his shoulders and has his priorities in check. Don’t expect those qualities to change from this outstanding young man.
“I’m just very humbled by everything that’s been going on,” Lacey said.