Five-star edge Keon Keeley has walked back his pledge for Notre Dame. As the process played out, interest in Keeley only continued to increase; a few weeks back, he visited Alabama. That was the time when speculation of an impending de-commitment began. Keon's pledge held up until today, as he took it seriously and truly wanted to make sure it was something he wanted to do.
What does this mean for Notre Dame?
Keon Keely is an absolute stud of an edge defender; this loss can not be understated. However, Notre Dame has recruited at a high level under head coach Marcus Freeman, and they are still in on other elite players on edge. In addition, it is my understanding that the door for Keeley and the Irish to re-tie the knot is not out of the world of possibility.
In other words, Notre Dame will be just fine despite the difficult pill to swallow. For the Irish losing, some of these heavyweight battles for elite players is simply part of the game. Perhaps under Brian Kelly, you do not have the low of losing a superstar like Keeley, but you also are in the battle for fewer top-tier prospects. With the good comes frustration. Be patient.
The Irish are still in the race for five-star Samuel M'Pemba, and I have heard that the Irish covet Tennessee pledges, Chandavian Bradley and Caleb Herring. Both players are at least listening to what the Irish have to say.
This is not a loss of a player for NIL purposes either, so there is no need to panic on that front Irish fans. NIL is a positive considering the Irish branding; money opportunities are not scarce for those that don the golden dome.
What is next for Keon Keeley?
Getting obvious out of the way, I fully expect Keeley to choose Alabama. How could anyone look at what Alabama has produced on the defensive line over the years and turn their nose up? The Crimson Tide also has the recency bias of watching the greatness that is Will Anderson. In my estimation, he is the best defensive prospect to come out of Alabama in the Saban era, which I realize is saying quite a lot.
The timeline is fuzzy on when a commitment to the Tide can come. If the Keeleys decide to take their time and mull over their options, the Ohio State Buckeyes are desperately trying to bring the freaky edge player to town for a visit. The Buckeyes are no stranger to having elite defensive players on edge, and the NFL feels very comfortable drafting them and paying them handsomely. The Bosa brothers and Chase Young are the most recent apparent examples. Ohio State has a good track record as any school for developing ends.
Scouting the coveted prospect
No other way to put it, at 6-foot 6-inches tall and 250 pounds, Keon Keeley looks the part of a modern-day superhero on the football field. He is everywhere! Keeley is the best edge player in this class, and his film shows it; whether he is mossing folks while playing TE or violently throwing down an evading QB, he is everywhere. He is fast, strong, and is still yet to reach his potential, and has room to add weight to his frame.
"A legit Edge who can stand up and put his hand down and get to the passer either way. He's a pass-rushing machine at the next level" according to Mike Farrell, who has seen quite a lot over his years as an evaluator.
Keeley is a three-year guy who will be a high draft pick and be a big-time player on Sundays; whoever gets this kid will be getting a superstar, and that will likely be the machine down in Tuscaloosa.