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Buckeyes hoping to get in the mix for 2023 five-star Notre Dame de-commit

Can Ohio State become a legitimate option for one of the nation’s top edge rushers?

Keon Keeley

Game day is getting closer and closer. From all that we’ve seen of fall camp, the Buckeyes appear to be getting pretty fired up for their 2022 campaign. Whether it’s been the removal of black stripes or positive vibes from the coaching staff, this year is trending in the right direction as we edge towards opening kickoff.

Larry Johnson being quoted saying he’s, “never seen this type of energy in his tenure,” at Ohio State isn’t your typical coach-speak you’re bound to hear this time of the year. Seeing the defense flying around even in the short clips the creative team is pumping out should get fans real excited for the changes coming. While far from a finished product, this team at least looks like they’ll be ready for when Notre Dame comes to town under the lights Sept. 3.

This time of the year and this close to the season, recruiting is bound to take a backseat, and to some extent it has. The main objective right now for this staff is sights set toward kick-off. But as we’ve seen time and time again, this program doesn’t take the foot off the gas when it comes to recruiting efforts. Though Week 1 is on the horizon, the efforts are still there as the Buckeyes try to bring in the best talent in country.

Keeley backs off Notre Dame pledge

Defensive line recruiting for Johnson this cycle looks to be similar in comparison to that last couple of classes. Seeing majority of the recruiting efforts pay off late in the game, this 2023 haul may be in the same boat, which means the bulk of commitments may be coming later rather than sooner — and that’s fine. Johnson already has a couple of guys locked up right now, but certainly room for additional players along the defensive front is a given. With several key targets still out there, it’s not wrong to think the Buckeyes are going to end up in a good spot.

One target that has long been on Ohio State’s mind is Florida native, Keon Keeley. The five-star edge rusher is the No. 7 player nationally, the top player at his position, and the second best player in Florida for this current cycle per the 247Sports Composite. Obviously a top player on the board for any program, Keeley committed to Notre Dame way back in June of 2021, but Wednesday brought a big time update in his recruitment as he decided to back off his pledge and decommit from Notre Dame, dropping the Irish a spot in the current class rankings.

The crown jewel of any class, the loss of Keeley has to be hurting the Notre Dame staff. While that’s not what they wanted by any means, other suitors are sure to try and get in on the now uncommitted consensus five-star talent. One of course being Ohio State, as the Buckeyes have already played host to Keely multiple times and would love to get back in the fold here as much as possible.

Of course, the likely link to the timing of this rescinded pledge comes with the unofficial visit Keeley recently took to Alabama. Shortly after his announcement, the Crystal Ball predictions in favor of the Crimson Tide started to roll in for Keeley to end up at Alabama. While those crystal ball submissions aren’t guarantees, coming from the likes of Steve Wiltfong, among others, gives pretty good insight as to what is happening. Of course that points towards Alabama taking some serious strides here for yet another top national player, as if they didn’t have enough success already.

Regardless, with Keeley now on the market, Ohio State would be crazy not to least try their luck here. Johnson cannot be over-looked when it comes to recruiting efforts and success on the trail. With his track record and with already having experience with Keeley himself, it’s a chance worth taking. Sure, Alabama may be in the best position here as they tend to be, but Ohio State is at the very least going to do their due diligence. If he ends up in Tuscaloosa, it certainly won’t be for a lack of effort. A decision coming soon though would pretty much point towards Bama being Bama.