Thiyo Lukusa made his first visit to Notre Dame on Saturday and the 2016 Michigan offensive lineman left extremely impressed.
“It was pretty crazy,” the 6-foot-6, 300-pound sophomore from Traverse City, Mich., said. “All of it stood out. It was more than I expected.
“My mom enjoyed it a lot.”
The Traverse City West High School standout arrived in South Bend before noon and was able to take in much of Notre Dame, but the highlights of the trip came in the leadup to the game.
“I went through the tunnel of people on the way to the North Tunnel,” Lukusa said. “That was crazy. There was a ton of people shouting. That was pretty cool, going on the walk from the Gug to the Stadium.
“Once we got in there, there was a bunch of other top recruits. Jashon Cornell and Juju Smith were there, that was pretty cool.”
Lukusa met Cornell at the Notre Dame-Michigan game in Ann Arbor earlier this year.
Lukusa already has an offer from Michigan State and is hearing from schools like Michigan, Penn State and Northwestern among others. Academics will be a key for Lukusa’s ultimate decision and while this was a game visit, he did get a feel for the emphasis placed on education at Notre Dame.
“We got to talk a little bit about academics,” he said. “One of the things Coach (Chuck) Martin asked me was what me GPA was, so I could tell that’s important to them.”
The sophomore offensive lineman also had the opportunity to speak with Irish assistant Harry Hiestand.
“I got to talk to the offensive line coach, Coach Hiestand,” said Lukusa. “He came over and talked to me before the game. He said he liked me and wanted to talk to me before the game, so that was fun.”
The game itself also made an impression.
“It was nuts,” Lukusa said. “The student section was pretty wild.”
He had plans to return to South Bend for a second visit even before this weekend and those plans are only more certain now.
“Probably this spring, maybe sooner,” he said. “It’ll depend on how much we talk and stay in touch.”
One thing is certain, the Irish stand in a good position with Lukusa now.
“They stand very high.”