Notre Dame continues to make the most of renewed recruiting this June, the reward of finally being able to host prospects on campus after a nearly 15-month dead period induced by the pandemic. Two weeks after consensus three-star offensive lineman Ashton Craig (Lawrenceburg High School; Ind.) drove up to campus and shined enough in a camp to elicit a scholarship offer, he joined the Irish class of 2022 on Saturday, and by Monday, consensus four-star defensive end Keon Keeley (Berkeley Prep; Tampa, Fla.) kicked off Notre Dame’s 2023 recruiting with a commitment.
Craig becomes the third offensive lineman in the class, joining consensus four-stars Joey Tanona (Zionsville H.S.; Ind.) and Ty Chan (Lawrence Academy; Groton, Mass.). A three-star joining that pair of four-stars may raise some eyebrows, but the Irish have a strong track record of players panning out after being offered scholarships thanks to in-person camp performances. Furthermore, Craig was also pursued by Nebraksa, Northwestern and Michigan, as well as Clark Lea’s Vanderbilt and, within miles of Craig’s hometown, Cincinnati.
Craig’s strongest trait is some natural quickness, amplified by footwork fine-tuned in basketball performances, ones so worthwhile they are included on his highlights page. He will most likely take that quickness inside at Notre Dame, widely expected to play center. At 6-foot-5, he will provide the size inside that the Irish have gotten used to the last two seasons with 6-foot-4 ½ Jarrett Patterson starting at the pivot, now succeeded by 6-foot-3 Zeke Correll.
Correll technically has four seasons of eligibility remaining, and Notre Dame has no distinct backup to him at the moment, but Correll is unlikely to stick around college through 2024. More likely, he will start for two or three years, so by the time Craig may be ready for the Irish, an opportunity should be awaiting him as a sophomore or junior.
With Craig’s commitment, Notre Dame now has 16 pledges in the class of 2022, despite the class idling at home for months and months throughout the pandemic. While rivals.com ranks the Irish grouping as the No. 2 class in the country, that may drop a few spots as other schools catch up to Notre Dame’s sheer quantity.
Keeley visited South Bend earlier in June, and that viewing of campus prompted his decision before he even starts his junior year of high school.
“Notre Dame is the right fit for me,” Keeley said to Blue & Gold Illustrated. “The coaching staff, the people, the campus — I feel that I can accomplish my goals in life by going to school at Notre Dame. You can’t go wrong by choosing Notre Dame; it has everything I want.”
He already holds scholarship offers from Florida, Miami and North Carolina, though many more schools will undoubtedly offer Keeley over the next two seasons, simply how recruiting works even if he has already committed to the Irish.
Keeley needs to add a good amount of muscle before he is ready to compete at the collegiate level, something that should be assumed of any high school sophomore, but already standing 6-foot-5, he will have the length that Notre Dame so values along its defensive line.