Dad: Jacob Lacey Always Wanted It

December 31, 2018
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Maybe being a great parent is similar to being a great baseball player, at least in David Lacey’s case.

“I always tell people I failed more than I succeeded,” says Lacey.

Whatever Lacey and his wife, Loraine’s, parental batting average was, it was good enough to get one son, Brycen, to West Point and another, Jacob, a football scholarship to the University of Notre Dame.

“I thank God every day for both of my boys,” Mr. Lacey says. “We worked as parents. We were not perfect by any means. I gave those boys to God a long time ago.

You can try, but it’ll be difficult to get him to take credit for Jacob’s success.”

“He is a kid who just wants it,” he says. “It’s in him. I wish I could say I did it, but he was born with it. He just wants it.”

Jacob emerged as a major college prospect early in his career at South Warren High School in Bowling Green, Ky., which served as even more motivation.

“He never rested on his laurels,” his father says. “As a matter of fact, he worked even harder the more offers he got. We’d see that in the offseason, when he would do his own workouts.”

And after signing his National Letter of Intent with the Irish on Dec. 19th, he’s working as hard as ever. In fact, his father had to plead with him to take just a little time off.

“He was like, ‘I’ve got to get the speed. I’ve got to the strength,’” Mr. Lacey explains. “I told him, ‘Coach (Matt) Balis will take care of you.’”

 

The Laceys helped keep Jacob grounded with all of the attention at such a young age.

“We always talked about how good God has been to us and how everything you have is from Him,” Mr. Lacey explains.

“We came from that perspective. Jacob is just a very humble kid, naturally humble. He’s not into tweeting and all of that. As a matter of fact, most of it is me encouraging him to do it. Early on, he didn’t want to do anything.”

When it came to choosing a school, Jacob’s priorities were certainly in line.

“Me and his mother are tremendously proud of Jacob, how he handled it and what he wanted and his focus on not just the best uniform or winningest program or all of those other factors,” Mr. Lacey says.

“He knew what football could do for him down the road and that’s why he picked Notre Dame.”

Lacey is a cousin of the late Dave Duerson, who starred at Notre Dame.

“Initially, it brought a little interest in the fact that we have some family and legacy there,” Mr. Lacey explains. “I’d tell him stories of Dave Duerson walking into the family reunion or to the house and how it was something different. I’m sure that played a little part of it.”

The “crazy awesome” campus played a role as well and as the process really got going, getting to know defensive line coach Mike Elston and head coach Brian Kelly were also huge factors.

But Lacey’s decision was going to be about more than football, which is where Adam Sargent, Associate Director of Academic Services For Student Athletes, usually comes in.

“We call him Sarge,” Mr. Lacey says. “We met with the Engineering Department there, an Engineering professor, somebody from the Business school.

“We didn’t do that anywhere else.”

The Laceys took visits to Alabama, Michigan and other schools, but Notre Dame was the only one to make sure academics was a major part of each and every trip.

“Some people talk about academics, but Notre Dame really does walk it,” Mr. Lacey says. “We got to know those guys as much as we got to know some of these other coaches. That was really important in the decision-making for Jacob. He wanted great academics and a Power Five football team.”

Mr. Lacey wanted to be sure his son appreciated the position he was in, stressing the fact that a lot of kids would love to be where he was.

“I would take him to do service projects, we would volunteer with kids who are maybe not as fortunate as he was as a reminder of how good he does have it,” he says.

“I knew he wouldn’t take it for granted, but I wouldn’t let him take it for granted and I never took it for granted.”

Mr. Lacey says he’s extremely proud of the position Jacob has put himself in and while he tries not to say too much, he admits he wears Notre Dame gear just about every day and is “beaming all of the time.”

“I think I’m most proud of not only that, but the fact that he’s a great human being. Other people say he’s a great human being and I will say that does make me and his mom feel pretty good.”

 
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