Highly touted recruit Gunner Kiel chooses to transfer after one year at Notre Dame
BY LaMOND POPE Sun-Times Media March 19, 2013 10:45PM
FILE - In this April 21, 2012, file photo, Notre Dame quarterback Gunner Kiel throws a pass during the Blue Gold spring NCAA college football game in South Bend, Ind. Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly announced Tuesday, March 21, 2013m that the former standout from Columbus, Ind., who was one of the top-rated quarterbacks coming out of high school a year ago, plans to transfer. (AP Photo/Joe Raymond, File)
Updated: March 20, 2013 12:09AM
SOUTH BEND, Ind. — Gunner Kiel came to Notre Dame as one of the top-ranked recruits in the country.
He’ll leave the program having never played a down.
Coach Brian Kelly confirmed that the quarterback, a former five-star recruit for the Class of 2012, was no longer with the program.
“You never want to see guys not stay in the program. You don’t bring guys in expecting them to transfer,” Kelly said Tuesday. “There’s always a sense from my end that we wish he would have given it an opportunity.
“But kids make decisions based upon what are important factors to them. Gunner and his family felt like it was best for them to pursue other opportunities.”
Notre Dame begins spring practice Wednesday with Tommy Rees, Andrew Hendrix and Malik Zaire among the backups for starting quarterback Everett Golson.
“I want them to push to be on the field,” Kelly said. “I want them to go in knowing that Everett Golson has experience, but that’s all he has. It’s your job to go out there and show us that you can be the starting quarterback, not to settle for being the backup. When you’re given your opportunity, to compete and keep pushing.
“If you back off at all, you don’t want to be the starter, we can make that happen for you. I want Tommy to go out there and compete to be the starter. I want Hendrix, Malik Zaire to go out there and compete.”
Kiel was also supposed to be in that mix. The Columbus (Ind.) East graduate originally made an oral commitment to Indiana and then switched to LSU before landing at Notre Dame. He spent a portion of last season on the scout team.
Kelly said the process for Kiel’s release began Friday.
“I don’t know that I’m surprised. We had kind of created an opportunity for him to compete in the spring. So maybe a little surprised from that standpoint because he was actually told that he would be given an opportunity to compete,” Kelly said.
Kelly said it was his understanding Kiel will remain enrolled at Notre Dame and finish out the semester.
Reports first surfaced earlier this month that Kiel was debating a move. Kelly said there has been an “open conversation” about Kiel’s next destination.
“I think the schools that he was looking at were in line with the schools that I thought were appropriate relative to who was on our schedule,” Kelly said when asked if there were any restrictions for Kiel’s next school.
“There were a number of nationally regarded programs across the board. There were too many for me to even get into. Some regionally, some national, but a pretty long list. We gave him pretty good leeway to find the right resting place.”