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Recruiting Roundup: Time to Start Worrying? No.

Updated: Aug 22, 2022

Written By Liam Gaudet, Senior Editor


With the recent de-commitment of five star edge rusher Keon Keeley, the Notre Dame fanbase is disappointed, but is this a sign of things to come for the Irish? To put it simply: No. As the old adage goes, “the path to success is not a straight line” and I think there is no greater advice to fans that are overreacting to this news.


Recent Notre Dame De-Commit Keon Keeley


Let me put it this way. If I had told you in 2019 that in just two seasons, Notre Dame would be competing against top programs for the services of multiple top-30 prospects, would you have believed me? I personally would not have seen it that way after being brainwashed by Brian Kelly that the best we could do is a 50-50 split class of three and four star players. We shouldn’t be so naïve to believe that in less than a year under a new coaching regime, we would land the number one class in the country, hold hands and sing Kumbaya. Although it looked possible at one point, realistically I think we all believed that the SEC powerhouses were going to gain momentum on the recruiting trail and dethrone us at some point, albeit at the cost of our best recruit. Is this disheartening? Sure. Is the program going to implode? Absolutely not.

Notre Dame has been seeing the world through rose colored glasses since the hiring of Marcus Freeman at the end of last season. Since then, we have been spoiled into believing that Freeman is invincible on the trail. The reality of the situation is these things happen when you’re competing with the big boys. Alabama, Georgia and others lose 5-star commitments all the time, but because we’re not used to having legendary blue chips in the fold, our failures are a little more magnified. Even if we lost Peyton Bowen, which looks more likely than not with every passing day, our recruiting class is much more successful than anyone would have anticipated in previous years. In the grand scheme of things, I still believe this recruiting cycle has been a massive success. Sure, we’ve missed on a few big names, but with more success on the field, and perhaps a more fleshed out NIL plan, more talent will likely be accumulated in the coming cycles.

Speaking of accumulating talent, how about we talk about the kids that are still in the class. In the 2023 class, we have addressed positions of need extremely successfully. Three top 150 wide receivers in Greathouse, James and Flores is a win that cannot be understated, and they show no sign of going back on their pledge. An offensive line class spearheaded by a monster in Charles Jagusah, and two speed demon corners in the secondary in Bell and Gray. All this without mentioning the heart and soul of the class in high 4-star linebacker Drayk Bowen. As diehard fans, it's easy to see shortcomings and focus entirely on the negatives. However, I encourage the fans to embrace a glass-half-full approach until signing day. Yes, the loss of a blue chip stings, but the sky is not falling.

I touched on this a little bit earlier, but I’m hoping that the staff will learn from this setback and work to employ new methods for retaining recruits. The elephant in the room is obviously NIL opportunities. Regardless of whether or not Alabama offered Keeley a pay day, Notre Dame needs to find an NIL strategy that can compete with offers from larger schools. Yes, I’m aware that the core values of this university aren’t aligned with handing out millions of dollars to 17 year old's *cough A&M cough*, but clearly more competitive offers are a must. If other schools want to play dirty in an unregulated landscape, Notre Dame needs to find a strategy that falls within their morals to compete. Until more rules are put into place to stop the bag men in their tracks, a competitive plan needs to be set in motion.

In closing, I felt it necessary to release this in hopes of relieving a small amount of tension that seems to be building amongst fans. I know it’s hard not to make a mountain out of a molehill, but given our recent recruiting successes, I think the fact that this is an issue is only a testament to the tremendous job this staff has done this cycle. Could the de-commitment come as a result of NIL? Who knows. What we do know is that recruiting failures thus far have not been for lack of effort. This staff has been relentless, and we can’t win every battle. What we can do is continue to count on this staff to put the work in, and the results will speak for themselves. As far as NIL goes, I expect a well thought out plan from everyone in the athletic department to ensure failures like these are not consistent. Keep your heads up folks, we’re still in good hands.


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