Four years ago, Keisean Lucier-South didn’t even know Orange Lutheran High School existed.
He grew up in Santa Ana, went to Killybrooke Elementary School in Costa Mesa and played youth football in Newport Beach and Irvine.
All he ever heard about was Mater Dei.
But then a close friend of his, L.J. Northington, encouraged Lucier-South and his family to give Orange Lutheran a look. They paid a visit to the campus and were quickly sold on the academics, athletics and atmosphere.
Three years later, Lucier-South has developed into one of the top pass rushers ever to play for the Lancers and the benefits from his successful career continue to pour in.
Not only is the 6-5, 225-pound defensive end being wooed by most of the top college programs in the nation, but he recently accepted an invitation to play in the prestigious Army All-American Bowl on Jan. 3 at the Alamodome in San Antonio.
The game will be televised on NBC and include most of the top high school senior football players from around the nation.
“It’s a big honor,” Lucier-South said on Veterans Day, shortly before he accepted his game jersey during an elaborate ceremony in Orange Lutheran’s gymnasium.
I’m totally blessed to play in the Trinity League because there are so many players who go to D-1 schools
Lucier-South said he never envisioned he’d be the recipient of such plentiful opportunities when he arrived at the school as a freshman. His teammates at the time told him he’d be a star by the end of his high school career, but Lucier-South didn’t see any reason to believe them.
But then he became a varsity starter as a sophomore, racked up 11.5 sacks that season and suddenly was being listed as one of the top recruits for the Class of 2015. He achieved similar success as a junior, performed exceptionally well at various combines last spring and the attention continued to pour in.
“I received 100 letters from Arizona and Texas one day,” he says.
Lucier-South took breaks during his senior season to take official recruiting trips to Michigan, Oklahoma and Oregon, and is scheduled to visit UCLA later this month. USC has come on hard of late and Florida could get back in the hunt, depending on who the Gators hire to replace Will Muschamp, who resigned as head coach in the middle of November.
Lucier-South originally planned to announce his college choice on national signing day Feb. 4, but the overwhelming attention he’s been receiving may scuttle those plans.
“I’m getting to the point where I might commit early,” he says. “I just want to get it over with because I can’t wait that long…I think it’s crazy with the coaches calling you, the interviews, the letters and everything.”
Lucier-South is by no means complaining. He feels blessed to be in the situation he’s in, and owes much of it to his decision to play for Orange Lutheran, where he’s been able to compete in the ultra-talented Trinity League, which featured three teams in the USA Today preseason top 25, the same number as the entire state of Texas.
Lucier-South compares the six-team league to the Southeastern Conference, one of the top football conferences at the college level.
“I’m totally blessed to play in the Trinity League because there are so many players who go to D-1 schools,” he says. “It helped me a lot. It helped me mature. It helped me understand the game pretty well.”