Notre Dame Football Recruiting

2021 DE Ryan Keeler Says Notre Dame A "Dream School"

May 29, 2019

Ryan Keeler‍ is well aware of what Notre Dame Football is all about.

“I know a ton about the rich history of Notre Dame Football,” the 2021 Illinois defensive end said. “I have been attending games for years with the Romano Family. The locker room in Guglielmino Athletics Complex is named the Romano Family Locker Room. ND is just a great game day experience.”

The 6-foot-5, 240-pounder from Nazareth Academy already has several offers with scholarships coming in from Michigan, Illinois, Iowa, Iowa State, Nebraska, Purdue, Minnesota and Nebraska just this month.

“It is surreal to have so many offers at this stage of the process,” said Keeler. “I sometimes think it is a dream. I will just continue to work hard at my craft to become the best player that I can be. Working hard is everything, it is who I am. I just want to keep working towards trying to win another state title with my teammates.”

Notre Dame assistant Tom Rees made a stop at the school during the May Evaluation Period and Keeler said he has been in touch with staff in South Bend, including Director of Recruiting Aaryn Kearney. He’s thrilled to be on the Irish’s radar.

“Notre Dame is one of my dream schools,” he said. “It means everything to be on their recruiting radar. Growing up in Chicago on the South Side, you are always watching Notre Dame games. Watching a game live is an amazing experience.

“The next steps in the process is just to stay in touch with Coach Rees, (graduate assistant Keli’I Moanauli) Kekuewa and Coach Kearney. I plan on attending camp again this summer. While at camp I will explore the campus a bit and get familiar with the area.”

Keeler, who camped at Notre Dame last summer, hopes to continue building his relationship with the staff while learning more about academics and requirements to be accepted into the Business School.

He said an offer from the Irish would “be amazing.”

“It is just one of the schools that has a long history of greatness,” he said. “It would be great to walk through the same tunnel as so many great players have in the past. Slapping the ‘Play like a Champion’ sign has always been a dream.”

Keeler is grateful for all of the offers he has already.

“Each and every offer means something different,” he said. “Each school has unique qualities to offer. The Big Ten offers jump out immediately If I choose to stay local and close to home it is overwhelming to have some many local choices. Michigan, Iowa, Iowa State, Illinois, Purdue, Minnesota, Nebraska they are all great schools that provide different academic and football options. Boston College was my first ACC offer and it is an amazing place with a great coaching staff.”

Keeler’s teammate and classmate at Nazareth, quarterback JJ McCarthy, is currently committed to Michigan.

“JJ and I are close friends,” said Keeler. “We have played football together since grade school. It would be great to continue to play with JJ in college.

“However, I need to first establish strong relationships with the coaches that are recruiting me. Relationships are everything during the process, you have to find the perfect fit. As a player you must fit in the locker room with the guys. You must have a close bond with your positional coach. I would love to play with JJ, but for now I am just going to enjoy the process and see where I fit in best.

Over the last few months, Keeler has made unofficial visits to Boston College, Clemson, Georgia, Georgia Tech, Toledo, Northwestern, Illinois and Ball State. He has plans to get to Iowa, Iowa State, Michigan, Minnesota, Purdue and Nebraska in the coming months and also hopes to make it to schools like Florida State, Miami, Kentucky and Louisville.

“I will not be rushing a decision,” he explained. “I will be taking my time with my parents. It is important to make the best choice where I fit in both academically and athletically in a program that will continue to develop and push me to be great, on and off the field.

“There are so many factors to consider. The ones are that jump out are: where I feel at home, where I have developed the best relationships, attending a school that develops players and gets them ready for the next level, having a great academic environment with strong alumni relations in the job sector.”

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