The world learned Wednesday that McDonogh 35 wide receiver Lawrence Keys III knows how to keep a secret.
For the better part of three months, Keys knew his college destination would be Notre Dame, but he and mother LaTanya Manning opted not to disclose their decision until National Signing Day.
The announcement came Wednesday during a mid-morning signing ceremony involving seven Roneagles athletes at the school’s Cadillac Street auditorium.
“Honestly, I’ve been decided,’’ Keys said. “But me and my mom never said anything about it. We decided a while back toward the end of the (football) season. But we just kept it as a secret.’’
Keys (5-foot-11, 170 pounds), was the fourth four-star wide receiver, according to 247Sports.com rankings, to join Notre Dame's 2018 recruiting class and among six Wednesday signees, increasing the Fighting Irish's class to 27 signees in all.
Keys chose Notre Dame from a list of finalists that included Texas, SMU and Tennessee after making official visits to Notre Dame, Texas and SMU. Keys also had an official offer from LSU.
“It felt comfortable,’’ Keys said of Notre Dame, which he visited on the weekend of Jan. 19. “I felt like I was at home. I trusted in my heart. My heart was telling me to go there. So I made the move.’’
Notre Dame projects Keys as a wide receiver and as a punt and kickoff returner. Keys and McDonogh 35 coach Wayne Reese said Keys is a full academic qualifier with a 20 on the ACT and a 3.7 grade-point-average.
“Lawrence said he wanted to play at the highest level in college football,’’ Reese said. “The thing about Lawrence is, he always did think like that. But he plays like that, too.
“He’s a hell of an athlete. He’s well mannered. He’s got a great mind. He can do anything there is in the classroom when it comes down to academics. Then he doesn’t get upset. And that’s a sign of a heck of a kid. He realizes I have made little mistakes, but I can overcome them.’’
Despite the LSU offer, Keys said the Tigers fell from consideration after LSU’s staff focused on landing Rummel wide receiver JaMarr Chase.
“It was a long story, dealing with the coaches and the visits and other things,’’ Keys said. “(LSU) had a guy on top of me that they were recruiting harder, so they went after him.’’
McDonogh 35 defensive back Joseph Foucha also signed with Arkansas. Ole Miss was the other finalist for Foucha, who also had offers from LSU, Kansas, Tennessee and Auburn.
Foucha and Sophie Wright linebacker Andrew Parker are among 16 members of coach Chad Morris’ first signing class with the Razorbacks.
“I went there on a visit ... and it was everything to me,’’ said Foucha, who was a stellar point guard for McDonogh 35’s basketball team before deciding to concentrate on football. “I wasn’t expecting much, because I wasn’t going to take a visit at all. But when I went up there, the relationship I had with the coaches was very strong.
“(Arkansas has) been recruiting me since ninth grade. Coach Morris has been recruiting me since he was at SMU. So the relationship is very strong. When I saw Fayetteville, it looked like a pretty good place to be. I can see myself there for the next four to five years without getting homesick.’’
A three-star prospect, according to 247Sports.com, Foucha (5-11, 195) said he is projected as a nickel cornerback and/or safety by Arkansas’ coaching staff. Foucha and Reese said Foucha is a full academic qualifier.
“Joe is an unbelievable athlete, just like Lawrence,’’ Reese said. “He’s a well-mannered kid. He can high-jump 6-6, 6-8. He can triple-jump 42, 44 feet, long-jump 21 feet. Joe can do anything on the football field, anything at the skill positions, play wide receiver, play running back, play quarterback. He can kick the football.
“I thought he should have stayed with basketball. He was the No. 1 point guard in the state. He can dunk. He can shoot from the outside. He was a hell of a basketball player. But he told me, ‘Coach, my future is in football.’ He wanted to concentrate on getting his body ready for football because his future is in football.’’
McDonogh 35’s other senior athletes signing Wednesday were quarterback LeJohn Howard and running back Eddie Tillman III (Florida A&M), defensive back Glen Brown (Coffeeville, Kan., CC), tackle Deron Mack (Hinds, Miss., CC) and volleyball player Anissa Christmas (Bethany College of Bethany, W.Va.).