Notre Dame no longer has the top-ranked recruiting class in the country as of Wednesday night after sustaining a massive blow to the class of 2023 when 5-star EDGE Keon Keeley ended months of speculation and officially decommitted
After being committed to Notre Dame for over a year, Keon Keeley started taking unofficial visits in the spring and again in the summer – most recently to Alabama. The rumor mill had been running rampant for weeks since the latest visit to Alabama that a decommitment from Notre Dame was imminent. It appeared for a little while as though the Irish weathered the storm, but in recent days, those rumors reached a fevered pitch. Wednesday night, Keeley made it official.
There’s no sugar coating how big of a loss this is for Notre Dame. Keeley was the highest-rated recruit to commit to Notre Dame in years. He is a legit top-10 overall talent and the most talented EDGE rusher coming out of high school that Notre Dame had committed in many years. While the Irish still have a talented defensive line class committed, there just isn’t anyone else currently committed – or anyone else uncommitted the Irish have any shot at – who would be what Keeley was to this class.
Keeley’s commitment immediately dropped Notre Dame to third in the recruiting rankings, but that is far from Notre Dame’s biggest concern at the moment. Instead, Notre Dame’s biggest concern is finding another EDGE rusher for this class to compliment Brennan Vernon, Boubacar Traore, and Devan Hosutan along the defensive line in this class.
Even before the decommitment of Keeley, there were reports the staff was looking to add another EDGE rusher to the class since you can never have enough talented pass rushers. Adding at least one more is required for defensive line coach Al Washington, defensive coordinator Al Golden, and head coach Marcus Freeman.
There’s a chance that Notre Dame continues to recruit Keeley in hopes of reminding him why he committed in the first place, but with his official visit to Notre Dame already used up, it becomes that much harder.
Notre Dame started offering new EDGE rushers in recent weeks when it became clear that Keeley was trending away from them. Still, at this point, there isn’t any in particular that looks as promising as wide receiver Taeshaun Lyons who was a recent offer once it was clear Ronan Hannafin was going to commit to Clemson. Of course, that will change as Notre Dame turns up the heat on now that they know they have a big void to fill, but it’s not a good spot for Freeman and co to be in this late in the cycle.
If Notre Dame held on to Keeley, they had the luxury of only taking another pass rusher if they were an elite prospect. Without Keeley, the staff may be best served to try to land two more pass rushers if one is more of a developmental prospect. There are no sure things in recruiting, but Keeley was about as sure a thing as Notre Dame’s recruited along the defensive line in some time.
Notre Dame has had some luck landing late rising defensive players in recent years, and that has to be the hope for the staff here as well. Myron Tagovailoa-Amosa and Jeremiah Owusu Koramoah, for instance, were 11th-hour additions to the class of 2017. Of course, those two are more exceptions than the norm, but they were late additions that weren’t even on Notre Dame’s radar at this point in their recruiting cycles.