Three weeks ago, Jacob Lacey was making big-time plays on the field for the Notre Dame Fighting Irish. In Notre Dame’s 24-17 win over Cal, the 6-1, 280-pound defensive tackle had two pivotal sacks on a day when Notre Dame needed all of the defensive help they could get. Notre Dame Football’s twitter account released a video of him being mobbed by his teammates.
On Thursday, head coach Marcus Freeman said that Lacey is no longer with the team and that he will enter the transfer portal when it reopens. Minutes later, Lacey confirmed the news on his Twitter account, saying that it was with “lots and lots of prayer and sorrow,” that he finally decided to transfer. It’s a surprising decision, but one that is completely within Lacey’s rights considering the new regulations of the transfer portal. Lacey will be redshirting the rest of the year, ensuring that he will have two years of eligibility at his new school.
Lacey seems to have seen that his playing time was trending in the wrong direction. Lacey played 24 snaps in his best game against Cal but just nine against North Carolina. He was the third-most used defensive tackle on the roster, behind graduate student Jayson Ademilola and Howard Cross. Fellow defensive tackle Gabriel Rubio has also begun to get snaps in multiple games.
Freeman said that the gap left by Lacey will be filled by Rubio and Chris Smith, a graduate transfer from Harvard. Smith has played 46 snaps, compared to Lacey’s 73 this season. Sophomore Jason Onye has been elevated from the scout team to see game action.
Lacey graduated from Notre Dame last spring. He was a four-star, top-200 recruit when he committed to Notre Dame in 2019 from Bowling Green, Kentucky. The product of South Warren High School also held offers from Cincinnati, Clemson and Kentucky.
Head coach Marcus Freeman and the Irish seem to be at peace with Lacey’s decision.
“He made a decision that ultimately, he felt was best for him and we respect that. We love Jacob. The best thing about it is that he leaves here with a degree in hand,” said Freeman.