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Notre Dame Football

Notre Dame DL Jacob Lacey Ascending & Chris Smith Impressing with Strength

August 12, 2022

Notre Dame returns one of the most experienced defensive lines in the country and senior Jacob Lacey is a name Irish fans should get to know. 

The 6-foot-1, 280-pounder has played in 33 games and battled a few injuries, but in 2022, Lacey found good health for the most part and started to flash. 

New Notre Dame defensive line coach Al Washington has seen Lacey grow over the last eight months, which has led to a big start to preseason camp from the Bowling Green (Ky.) native. 

"Lacey's a man in the way he handles his business,” said Washington. “He is one of those energy givers and a leader of the room. Through technique and fundamentals, he has become one of those players that is usually at the POA (point of attack). There is a high level of trust in Jacob. It's a daily thing. 

"He works his tail off. He's progressed and we're excited about his development." 

Washington has cross-trained Lacey and Howard Cross III at one tech and three tech during camp as injuries happen, but Notre Dame will also see a variety of offenses that could allow for various fronts. 

"He's flipped me and Jacob repeatedly,” explained Cross. “I think my theory is he wants us to know both by heart. He's pushing us to know both by heart for specific games, it could be triple-options or a center heavy or two tackle heavy game." 

Defensive lineman Chris Smith is also another experienced body as he played in 29 games during his time at Harvard. The competition at Notre Dame is a rise in competition for the graduate transfer, but he’s quickly impressed those in The Gug. 

"He's been great,” stated Washington. “The team and the unit have embraced him. Good cultures embrace competition. They don't shun it. They embraced him and helped him. He's done a phenomenal job in adjusting. He's attacking the little things in his technique. He's been pros pro. I'm real excited about having him and he's been a great addition." 

Smith first caught the attention of his teammates in the weight room over the summer and then backed up his numbers on the field this month. 

"First and foremost, he is probably one of the strongest human beings I've ever seen,” stated Cross. “I think he put up like 37 reps at 225. He's really strong. He fit right in. We accepted him with open arms. He's a beast. No one can move him on a double-team. I don't think I've seen him once get moved. He's a great fit for our defense at nose guard. He's really able to just stick to everybody." 

Two early enrollee freshmen have also caught the eye of their veteran teammates. Defensive end Aiden Gobaira was known as a fierce edge rusher in high school and it’s something that has stuck out to Justin Ademilola. 

"Aiden has one of the best get-offs I've seen coming from a young guy,” Ademilola explained. “He's always running to the ball, so you do things like that, you're going to find your way on the field. 

"He's a great player and he learns fast. He's one of the first guys in here in the morning. He's ready to go every morning. He's a hard worker and credit to this work ethic every day." 

Defensive lineman Tyson Ford is starting off his career working on the inside, which is where Rylie Mills saw time his freshman year. 

"Tyson is a big inside who is playing on the inside,” Mills said. “I'm trying to preach to him low pad level. He's getting there. He's a young guy that works at it and he's going to be a good one." 

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