It typically comes later in the cycle, but in each year that Larry Johnson has been at the helm of Ohio State’s defensive line, the recruiting successes have been evident. Landing top national targets every year, Johnson has put himself up there not only as one of the best at developing his position, but in recruiting as well. The two tend to go hand in hand when you consider how many guys he’s helped get to play on Sundays, and in the 2023 class, Johnson is looking to further extend his resume of success.
For whatever the reason may be, Johnson tends to take his time in landing his top guys in the trenches. While others may commit sooner, there’s been the tendency to see at least one high profile guy add his name to the Buckeye class just before signing day in December — or even after, as we’ve seen with guys such as J.T. Tuimoloau.
The current class has two guys in the fold thanks to Jason Moore and Will Smith, with both being big additions for Ohio State. But clearly the Buckeyes aren’t done at this spot, and with how many five-star targets still remain out there, the trend of landing an elite talent late in the game looks like a legitimate possibility once again.
Heading back for more
One of the key targets for the Buckeyes in the 2023 class has long been Florida native, Keon Keeley. The No. 8 player in the country, Keeley is the top edge rusher in the class and the third best player from Florida according to the 247Sports Composite. Obviously one of the best players nationally regardless of position, Keeley would be the gem of any recruiting class, and his pledge to Notre Dame for a little over a year gave the rest of the top programs recruiting him fits as he’s a can’t miss type of guy.
Since his de-commitment from the Irish, Keeley has been linked closely with both Alabama and Ohio State. Shortly after re-opening his recruitment, it was the flurry of 247Sports Crystal Ball predictions in favor of the Crimson Tide that gave much if not all of the momentum towards Keeley ending up at Alabama. The important aspect in relation to Alabama is that a commitment wasn’t made right away, and the longer it goes on, the better Ohio State’s chances would be.
Fast forward to the present, and Keeley has already been to Ohio State a couple of times, with the most recent being for the season opener against his former team, Notre Dame. The visit went very well for both parties, and if social media is a telling point, the video that went viral of Keely walking into the stadium with his reactions being pretty positive for the Buckeyes, that visit alone has kept Ohio State very much in the mix.
The week after his Ohio State visit, Keeley stayed closer to home and was able to see Florida play at night in a loss to Kentucky, and next month his official visit to Alabama is scheduled. As he continues to go through the process, the Buckeyes will continue to be a major aspect in his decision, but Sunday evening some word that shows how strong the Buckeyes are in this one came to pass again when news of another visit to Columbus was in the works.
Planning to make another trip this weekend, Keeley will be back at Ohio State not even a month removed from his first visit of the season. Checking back in to see the Buckeyes take on Wisconsin under the lights, this will be the second night game Keely will take in. While the atmosphere is shaping up to be another impressive one, it’s the efforts on his part to visit once again that say the most.
Five-Star Edge Keon Keeley (@keon_keeley) will be in Columbus for Ohio State’s game vs Wisconsin.— Hayes Fawcett (@Hayesfawcett3) September 19, 2022
The No. 3 Player in the 2023 Class also visited Ohio State on September 2nd (OV)https://t.co/0P59vPHQD9
The meaning in all of this
The simple question is asking what all of these developments mean, and it’s a pretty simple answer really. Ohio State has a legitimate shot here at landing Keeley. Seeing these multiple visits should be all that you need to know when gauging if Johnson and the Buckeyes are a real contender here.
Financially, these visits are on Keeley and his family. Having already had his official visit with the program, Keon taking these return trips on his own dime means something, and regardless of whether his family is financially stable to make this happen without an issue, it still shows his desire to be in Columbus even though he’s already seen all that the staff has laid out for him. Of course, a commitment to Ohio State isn’t a guarantee, but the recent happenings with Keeley should give you the feeling that Ohio State is at the top of his list before he makes a decision.
While they await their fate, Johnson still has the Buckeyes in a great spot for two more five-stars in Matayo Uiagalelei and Damon Wilson. It’s safe to say that regardless what happens in the coming weeks and months, this amount of positive vibes has made for plenty of reason to trust Johnson and his late-cycle antics on the recruiting trail.