Given sustained success for the Irish defensive line and impressive coaching by Al Washington, does Notre Dame football still have a shot at Keon Keeley?
At first glance, the ship has sailed for Keon Keeley and Notre Dame football, and while that may be the case, the door still seems ever so slightly open. It looks to be a two-team race for the talented defensive end out of Berkeley Prep in Tampa, Florida. Alabama and Ohio State look to lock up the 5-star recruit since his de-commitment from the Notre Dame football program.
Florida has been rumored to be in the process, but that’s more of a pity gesture from Keeley. Outside of Georgia, the SEC is struggling this year, and even with that, Florida is 6-5 overall. Though the allure of playing close to home could factor in here, I don’t think that’s the case for Keon.
There’s no question he was once extremely high on coach Freeman and Notre Dame football, so why the change of heart? Once Alabama got heavily involved, Keeley started to ponder his decision quite a bit. Regardless of if you’re a secondary option, when Alabama gets involved with top recruits, they tend to listen. Will going to Alabama and being just another guy or going somewhere to be “the guy” be the move for Keeley? We’ve seen higher-ranked recruits transfer from Alabama due to lack of playing time; in fact, it just happened mere hours ago with Trey Sanders.
There are still some aspects of the recruiting process in favor of Notre Dame regarding Keon’s recruitment. Tre Reader and Troy Reader, brothers out of Berkeley Prep and friends with Keeley, are heading to South Bend to continue their athletic and academic careers. Tre is a preferred walk-on for the Notre Dame football team at linebacker, while his brother Troy just signed with Notre Dame baseball. Would having a couple of guys you’re close with, that you could travel home with, resonate with Keon? It doesn’t seem to be the most significant factor, but it certainly doesn’t hurt.
If getting recognized early in your career is essential for the young man, there may not be a better place than Notre Dame. Coach Freeman is willing to play the most talented players, such as Benjamin Morrison, regardless of age. If being recognized as an All-American your freshman year is appealing, look no further.
I’d love to see coach Freeman and Washington not throw in the towel, but instead get more aggressive in their attempt to bring Keon back.
There’s no doubt what Marcus Freeman and his staff are building is special, but landing and retaining the top recruits is critical. With a full year at the helm in the recruiting department, coach Freeman is setting the class of 2024 up for even more success. If I had to guess right now, Keeley heads to Tuscaloosa to play for coach Saban. Even though most say they’re done, something tells me Notre Dame isn’t out of this race.