Crimson Tide aims to add the high-rated pass rusher to an already stellar recruiting class.
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — In what could be the first part in a giant recruiting coups for Alabama, prize prospect Keon Keeley de-committed from Notre Dame on Wednesday evening.
Keeley is the No. 3 prospect in the nation per the preseason SI99 rankings for the recruiting Class of 2023.
He had been committed to Notre Dame for more than a year, but head coach Brian Kelly has since left for LSU.
Alabama’s been considered the frontrunner to land him since Keeley visited campus last month.
Alabama was already atop the Sports Illustrated team recruiting rankings even though the Fighting Irish had eight committed players out of the SI99 compared to the Crimson Tide’s seven. However, they both now stand at seven along with Ohio State and Texas.
Keeley is listed as 6 foot 6, 242 pounds.
He landed an offer from the Crimson Tide on Jan. 14 after wrapping up a junior season that saw him record 61 tackles, including 34 for a loss and 16.5 sacks, to go with 19 quarterback hurries, two forced fumbles and an interception.
“This was my first time meeting him, and it was pretty cool,” Keeley told BamaCentral at the time. “He basically told me the importance of being a good person on and off the field and what it takes to be great. On the field, he thinks I’m a pure edge rusher for Alabama, and he really likes my athleticism.”
Alabama has a monstrous pass-rushing group led by Will Anderson Jr., who earned the Bronko Nagurski Trophy, Dallas Turner and Chris Braswell,
Keeley’s primary recruiter at Alabama is wide receivers coach Holmon Wiggins. Outside linebackers/special teams coach Coleman Hutzler has been heavily involved as well.
“He’s really cool and energetic,” Keeley said of Hutzler. “You can tell he really loves what he does.”
Film Study by Irish Breakdown
I loved Keeley’s talent and potential as a sophomore, but as a junior he already started to tap into his five-star potential, which is why he jumped up to a 5-star prospect on my board.
The first thing that stands out about Keeley is his elite length and frame. He’s listed at 6-6 and 230 pounds, but he’s still on the thin side and has a young body. Keeley has the frame that should allow him to get to at least 245-250 pounds by the time he enrolls at Notre Dame. Keeley has exceptional length, possessing arms that are as long as I’ve seen from a high school prospect, especially one as young as he is at this point.
As a junior he showed improved power, and there is still plenty of room for improvement and development there. When he comes off with good pad level and shoots his hands he can rock blockers back and even the longest of tackles can struggle to keep hands on. These traits combine with his athleticism to make Keeley an effective edge run defender.
Keeley shows an explosive burst off the edge, and it took a jump as a junior. He can blow past offensive tackles with his first step, but despite being so long he can get low and bend around the edge, and I am incredibly impressed with his natural feel for winning on the edge. There are things the elite pass rushers just do naturally, and we saw that from Keeley throughout his junior season.
Keeley gets on quarterbacks in a hurry and he arrived with a great deal more force as a junior, which five-star quarterback Arch Manning learned first hand in a head-to-head matchup this season. Keeley is a nimble and smooth athlete that possesses impressive foot quickness and balance. He has all the traits needed to eventually learn and master a wide array of pass rush moves.
The Berkeley Prep star has an impressive football IQ for a player his age. He makes quick reads, gets his hands up quickly when he sees quick game and when he loses a pass rush he does a great job of getting his eyes on the quarterback and trying to use his length to get his hands on the ball.
What’s scary is that he still has plenty of room to continue growing, improving his technique and to improve his game despite already being a five-star prospect. If he continues to progress he’ll end up being the best edge player to sign with Notre Dame since Aaron Lynch. The difference is Keeley is already ahead of where Lynch and Stephon Tuitt – the other elite five-star from that 2011 – were as juniors.