For much of the recruiting season, Sterling Lucas wasn't a name discussed by analysts or fans. Despite posting solid numbers at South Carolina's Shrine Bowl combine and totaling 161 tackles and five sacks as a senior, Lucas wasn't a known commodity. However, NC State assistant Jim Bridge first noticed him last spring and was one of the few high-major coaches to seriously evaluate him.
"They have been recruiting me for a long time," said Lucas. "They were on me in the spring and I was suppose to camp there but didn't make it. North Carolina State had me on their campus for the game against Maryland and I got to see the atmmosphere there... I was real interested in them early."
Then Lucas blew up at the Shrine Bowl. The 6-foot-2, 220-pound linebacker made plays all week during practice, and he finished the game with a team-high eight tackles, one tackle for loss and a huge, game-changing interception.
Earning defensive MVP honors for South Carolina, Lucas also secured his first two offers that week, as Michigan State and NC State came forth with offers. North Carolina, South Carolina, Wake Forest, and Maryland followed... not bad for a kid who entered the week with his lone offer being from South Carolina State.
NC State's early efforts stuck with Lucas, and the Wolfpack secured the first official visit.
"From the beginning, NC State was a priority for me because they were on me first," he said. "That visit was important for me, and I really took the other visits to see how I felt about those schools. They all were good schools, but I just felt like NC State was the place for me.
"I feel comfortable around everybody at NC State. I realized that was where my heart was. I wanted to take all my visits to see if I felt the same as I did at NC State... I didn't."
What stood out to Lucas on his official visit?
"I love the coaches and the environment," he stated. "The players were real cool, and I could tell how it was like a big family. All of the players got along with each other, and they made me feel like a part of the team from the minute I got up there. Plus, they are headed in the right direction.
"I also had a chance to start bonding with the other recruits. I've been talking with Dwayne [Maddox] regularly... Earl Wolff and Dominique Ellis too. I've already told Earl and Dwayne that I committed. They were happy about it."
Lucas eventually narrowed his list to NC State, South Carolina, and North Carolina before selecting the Wolfpack. He stated that he followed how fans viewed his recruitment on the Internet, and he was surprised by some of the comments that he read.
"It looked like a lot of fans thought I was automatically going to South Carolina," he said. "I read on the Internet where people think that because my father likes the SEC that I was going to South Carolina. South Carolina is the in-state school, and it's not too far away but it wasn't the school for me. NC State was the better fit.
"My father, all my family, loved NC State from the beginning. My father bonded with those coaches, and he wanted me to go where I wanted to go to college. He said he wanted me to go to the school where I would fit in the best for the next four or five years and that was NC State."
"It was still a tough decision because I liked all three schools," Lucas added. "UNC and [Souh] Carolina finished about the same. Both of them were real understanding when I told them about my decision. I told them NC State was where I was going, and they were cool about it."
Lucas originally planned to announce his decision today, but a Monday night in-home from NC State coaches Jim Bridge and Andy McCollum sealed the deal. He slept on his decision and informed the Wolfpack coaches Tuesday morning that he would be signing with them.
"Coach Bridge and coach McCollum came in [on Monday], and I was really feeling what they were saying," he said. "My parents were also, and I felt like it was time for me to make my decision.
"I called them up and committed and they were all real excited. Coach O'Brien sounded happy and coach Bridge was screaming because he was so happy.
"Man, I had that gut feeling about them on my visit and after I took all of my visits I still had that feeling. That's how I knew NC State as the place for me."