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2021 Early Signing Period: Ryan Keeler Signs With Rutgers Football

The 3-star DL is officially a Scarlet Knight.

Illinois v Rutgers Photo by Corey Perrine/Getty Images

Ryan Keeler had been committed since August of this year so it was merely a formality for him to make it official Wednesday. The defensive lineman is a great addition to the 2021 recruiting class for the coaching staff.

247 Sports Composite Ranking: 3-star; 18th in Illinois; 629th nationally

High School Position: DL (6’5”, 250 lbs.)

Projected college position: SDE

High School: Nazareth Academy

Hometown: La Grange, IL

Most notable other offers: Wisconsin, Penn State, Ole Miss, Michigan, Indiana, Iowa

Keeler is a higher three-star prospect with a similar skillset to Michigan transfer Aaron Lewis, particularly in his ability to line up anywhere on the offensive or defensive line and have an impact. Ryan has a good motor and surprising quickness, but what makes him so difficult to block is the variability in his approach while also keeping his center of gravity low. He is able to “sit down” in run support preventing offensive linemen from moving him out of the gap they want to use on that given play while also keeping one arm free to make a play. At times it looks like he’s not actively pursuing the ball carrier, but he is maintaining gap integrity and then explodes to the ball carrier when the play then reaches his area. Against the pass though he does not appear “passive” at all with a natural feel for stunts and multiple pass rush moves to flush the quarterback out of the pocket. More than anything, he’s a gamer who plays with the passion and fire that Greg Schiano and Jim Panagos need to add to the team.

The Rutgers Defensive Line added reinforcements in 2020 through the transfer portal who were a mixed bag so the hope moving forward is that players can be signed out of high school to populate the ranks and develop accordingly. The Knights did not get much of a pass rush with their front four in 2020, so the hope is to be able to collapse the pocket in 2021 even if edge rushers aren’t ready yet. The team will get defensive line coach Jim Panagos back after missing 2020 which may add a little more fire to the group, but an influx of talent would help massively as defensive linemen can contribute in a deep rotation earlier than other positions.

Floor: Manny Taylor

Most likely: Brendan Bordner

Potential: Justin Francis

Check out his highlights below:

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