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Notre Dame Football Recruiting

2023 DE Keon Keeley Ecstatic for Notre Dame Offer

March 17, 2021
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A Notre Dame offer excites many, but then there are kids like 2023 Berkeley Prep (Fla.) defensive end Keon Keeley‍.  

"I was ecstatic," Keeley told ISD. "It felt amazing because I was looking into the school a lot when I heard they were interested in me. My best friend (Troy Reader) is committed to Notre Dame (baseball) and he's told me a bunch of stuff about the school. 

"I was extremely excited. I know the culture is amazing, especially the football culture. The academics are great. It's honestly one of the biggest football schools, especially with the history. I was just beyond excited because of how they played last year and the defensive players they sent to the league." 

Reader has let Keeley wear his Notre Dame hoodie around over the last week since the Irish offered, which has led to recruiting pitches. 

Well, the recruiting pitches might have been coming long before Mike Elston offered and now they mean that much more. 

"He talks to me daily about Notre Dame," laughed Keeley. "He's always on me. Sometimes when we see each other in the hall, we do a little Fighting Irish pose to each other to mess around. 

"He told me a while ago to come to Notre Dame with him. At that time, it felt unrealistic - it felt like 'C'mon, man. That's Notre Dame. That's a big-time school.'

"It just felt like such a great school at the time. Fast forward and I have an opportunity to play at that school, so now he's even harder on me about it." 

Elston has quickly made his presence felt and the two have started to build a strong relationship over the last few weeks.

"I think he's an amazing coach," explained Keeley. "He's a really, really good guy to talk to. He'll tell me straight up how I have to play and what he needs me to do. He's also there not only to talk about football, but other things outside of football." 

Life outside of football means a great deal to the 6-foot-6, 220-pounder and Keeley already understands the opportunities he could have in South Bend. 

"One thing that's important to him is the man he wants you to become," Keeley said of Elston. "He made sure to let me know I had to be a five-star in the classroom because the Notre Dame academics are real. He said I'll not only have a chance to play football, but I'll get a degree from the University of Notre Dame. 

"He's a great coach and that's really important to me to have a coach that not only cares about football, but developing me as a man." 

Berkeley Prep is one of the top schools in Florida and some prospects in Keeley's position have opted for less demanding colleges as they want to experience something new. 

Keeley isn't ruling it out, but the demanding structure is something he's embraced as it's new to him. 

"The school I go to is very prestigious academically," Keeley explained. "My whole life, I went to public school and I started going to this school in ninth-grade. Honestly, it was completely new to me in ninth-grade, so the whole thing is brand new to me. It's not like I've been in a prestigious school like this my whole life and I'm bored of it." 

The Florida native does already see the similarities between his high school and Notre Dame, which is a positive. 

"I'm in love with the school and I feel like Notre Dame also has that good vibe on campus," said Keeley. "Everyone is trying to get better and learn. A school like Notre Dame, I feel it fits me perfectly. A school where you can have plenty of connections and have a great football atmosphere and get it done in the classroom. Everyone there is trying to succeed and everyone isn't trying to party every day. They also still understand that academics are important, but when it's game day, we like to have fun. That's how it is down there at our school. When it's game day, we go out and have fun and everyone comes to support us, but the academics are really strong here and academics are first. 

"A school like Notre Dame, I'm not a big guy that needs to party all the time. That's not what I'm looking for. I'm looking for a school to develop me as a man, get me on my academics and provide a big football scene. When it comes to academic schools like that and the type of environment, I can fit in perfectly." 

Now, Keeley is one of the best defensive ends in the 2023 class, so Elston and Notre Dame have work to do. 

Arizona State, Central Florida, Florida State, Kansas State, Mississippi State, Rutgers, Virginia Tech and West Virginia have already extended offers and many more will come. 

"I'm in contact with Florida State about once a week," stated Keeley. "They're on me. I recently got an offer from West Virginia. Due to rules and things like that being a sophomore, a lot of the schools, the communication goes through my head coach. He tells me what I need to hear and when to call coaches. 

"There is no leader at the time, they all do a good job. I'm thankful for all the opportunities I have due to my teammates and coaches"

"So far, Coach Elston has done a great job and I've only been on the phone with him twice."

When it comes to visits, Notre Dame is at the top of the list for Keeley and he hopes to make the trip with Reader soon. 

"Notre Dame is definitely a school I want to get out to," Keeley stated. "My best friend said when he eventually gets up there, he wants to take me with him, which is something really important. Notre Dame isn't right by Florida, so when it comes to traveling and things like that, maybe out of state is going to be a little harder. 

"If it wasn't for the NCAA rules, I'd really be traveling right now. Notre Dame is 100 percent one of the most important schools I'd like to visit. I want to get a vibe for the campus and stuff." 

Keeley will also likely have the chance to see the Irish play in-person this fall as Notre Dame opens the season in Tallahassee. 

"I do know Florida State is playing Notre Dame in the first game," Keeley said. "Florida State did mention me coming out to that game versus Notre Dame, so I might head out to the first game of the season." 

And when it comes to a decision, Keeley is taking his time and doesn't want to rush into anything, which shows his maturity. 

"Right now, I'm really just taking it day by day," said Keeley. "I still have a lot of talks to have with my coach, my family and overall just maturing. As I mature, certain things will fit in more than others, so I really don't know a potential date. 

"I'm not really an early commit type of guy. I don't think I'll be committing before my junior season."

 

 
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