5-Star DE Recruit Keon Keeley Commits to Alabama After Previous Pledge to Notre Dame

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured Columnist IVDecember 12, 2022

Photo credit: Andrew Ivins, 247Sports

Highly touted edge-rusher Keon Keeley committed to Alabama on Monday.

𝐊𝐞𝐨𝐧 𝐊𝐞𝐞π₯𝐞𝐲 5⭐️ @keon_keeley

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Keeley is the No. 10 overall player and top-ranked talent at his position in 247Sports' composite rankings for the 2023 recruiting class. He originally committed to Notre Dame before walking back his decision in August.

The Crimson Tide are on track to finish first in 247Sports' composite team rankings for next year. Keeley is their third 5-star commit, joining safety Caleb Downs and running back Justice Haynes. Head coach Nick Saban already got a commitment from 4-star edge-rusher Yhonzae Pierre as well.

Keeley told On3's Chad Simmons he had narrowed his final candidates to Alabama and Ohio State and explained why the former was his ultimate choice:

"I really liked the culture and the coaching staff. It's just a rare opportunity to go to the University of Alabama to play football for such a prestigious coach like Coach Saban. It's a great opportunity to go play, and you look at the track record of the outside linebacker position, they've had a bunch of guys drafted in the past five years. Alabama is Alabama, and I just felt like, 'Why not 'Bama?' It's a rare opportunity, and I'm blessed to be able to have it."

Coincidentally, 247Sports' Andrew Ivins scouted Keeley in May and compared him to former Buckeyes standout, Chase Young:

"Has a bit of a natural up-right demeanor to him, but isn't exactly stiff, and has shown time and time again on Friday nights that he can bend and find some leverage. Does a variety of different things well at this stage in his development, but the most promising trait might be his motor and ability to make stops/plays in backside pursuit. Has experience working out of both a two and three-point stance in a 4-3 base defense. Superb snap anticipation allows him to quickly shoot into the backfield and get to work."

Ohio State has seen its fair share of elite pass-rushers cycle through the program in recent years. Young and Nick Bosa were the No. 2 overall picks in 2020 and 2019, respectively, and Joey Bosa was the third overall pick in 2016.

But it's not hard to see why Keeley thought Alabama presented him with a better opportunity.

Will Anderson Jr., who's the top player on Bleacher Report's 2023 big board, is poised to be a top-five selection this spring. He'll join the large list of former Crimson Tide stars along the front seven to come off the board in the first round.

Anderson's departure could potentially open the door for Keeley to carve out a meaningful role on the defense immediately. He'll have stiff competition from Jeremiah Alexander and Jihaad Campbell, who were both 5-star recruits in 2022.

As the cliche goes, pressure makes diamonds. Keeley might be counting on the talent Alabama already has at outside linebacker push him to realize his full potential in college.