Lucas making a name for himself

Each year at the Shrine Bowl, a handful of sleeper prospects emerge and use the all-star stage to impress college scouts. This year has been no different. After a strong senior season, Orangeburg-Wilkinson linebacker Sterling Lucas came into Shrine Bowl week with little recruiting attention, but he quickly caught the eye of college scouts in Monday's first workout and hasn't slowed down since.

Despite racking up 161 tackles in his senior season, Lucas had only received a few Division II offers before this week. However, with his hard-hitting style and nose for the football, the 6'2", 220 pound Lucas has become the buzz of the Shrine Bowl and has seen his recruiting stock soar while showing out against the top prospects in the state of South Carolina.

"I just feel like it's a blessing to be out here. I'm just going hard, and it's been real competitive," said Lucas. "Recruiting's really picked up. Michigan State's offered me, and Clemson's also talked about offering me. N.C. State's talked to me, along with USC. It's going real good."

Many prospects would be overwhelmed by the onslaught of attention Lucas has warranted this week, but he's playing things cool on the recruiting front and plans to take his time before making a decision.

"No schools are really standing out yet. I'm just trying to do the recruiting thing and trying to evaluate the schools and do the best thing for me," he said. "I'm going to take my visits in January. Michigan State has asked me to visit, and North Carolina State wants me to come on a visit also."

Lucas, who says he believes the home-state Gamecocks will "come around" with an offer, says he's grown up attending games at South Carolina and is also familiar with the Clemson program.

"I've visited a lot of South Carolina games, and I grew up watching Clemson. I'm real familiar with the two in-state schools."

The emerging Palmetto State prospect is not yet sure of a timeframe for a decision, but he does know what factors he's looking for in a school.

"I'm not really sure on a timeframe. I'm just trying to evaluate the situation. I'm just trying to find the right school, so I'll choose whatever school is right for me," he said. "I want it to be a good institution academic-wise. I've got to like the coaches, and they've got to have a good winning tradition.

According to Lucas, one of the things that separates him from the average player is his passion and intensity on the field.

"I just come out with the mindset that I want to dominate each and every play. I just come out with a lot of intensity and tenacity in the game."

Lucas, who runs a 4.6 second forty yard dash, closed by sharing what goals he has set for the rest of the week.

"First of all, I want to be defensive MVP, and hopefully I'll catch the eye of a lot of scouts."

Lucas' high school coach not surprised by Shrine Bowl showing also had the opportunity to catch up with Orangeburg-Wilkinson Defensive Coordinator Ronnie Baker at the Shrine Bowl, and he discussed what type of player Sterling Lucas has been for the Bruins' program throughout his high school career.

"Sterling's been a great player for us ever since he arrived," said Baker. "He's a tough kid and a smart kid. He plays with a lot of speed and plays with a lot of heart and emotion also. Since the day he stepped on the field, he's been a natural born leader for us."

After watching Lucas devote the time and dedication both on and off the football field to improve his game, Baker's not surprised that his star pupil has performed so well during the Shrine Bowl workouts.

"He's performed very well, very well out here. He's worked real hard in the weight room, and he worked real hard on his technique. He came up here expecting good things. He's done a real good job. His hard work has paid off."

According to Baker, Lucas is equally as impressive off the field as he is on it.

"He's a great person off the field. He's cut from a different cloth. He's a throwback player. When the kid is at school, he's got his shirt tucked in his pants. He's a well mannered boy, and he's fully qualified. This is a kid you're going to catch in the library."

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