Notre Dame Football: Meet Gunner Kiel, the Fighting Irish's Flagship Recruit

James ToljCorrespondent IIJanuary 17, 2012

The Fighting Irish quarterback situation just got a little brighter with the news that Gunner Kiel, the top quarterback prospect in the nation, has dropped his commitment to LSU and will attend Notre Dame instead.

The Kiel fervor started over a report from The Observer, Notre Dame's student newspaper, declaring that the Indiana quarterback was set to enroll Tuesday and live in O'Neill Hall by the end of the week.

Now, the news has become official with every major recruiting outlet switching the commitment to the Irish, and has reported that Notre Dame has confirmed the enrollment.

The announcement comes after Kiel originally chose Indiana before committing to LSU.

The Fighting Irish have just three scholarship quarterbacks on the roster after Dayne Crist left the team to reunite with Charlie Weis at Kansas—Tommy Rees, Andrew Hendrix and Everett Golson—and Kiel is a needed recruit, even if just to provide depth at the position moving forward (although he certainly will have a chance to start).

Kiel won't have to go very far to attend Notre Dame. He played his football in Columbus, Indiana, which is about a four-hour drive from South Bend.

There are multiple reasons that Kiel is widely considered the top quarterback prospect in the nation.,, and all have Kiel as the No. 1 quarterback out of high school. Only ESPN has Kiel ranked lower (the second quarterback in the nation behind Jameis Winston).

You can imagine that it wasn't easy getting named the nation's best at his position playing in a region not known for producing great talent—Indiana—but Kiel has every tool necessary to become an elite player at the college level. 

At Columbus East, Kiel ran a version of the spread offense and rarely took a snap from under center. He threw for 2,517 yards and 28 touchdowns with just four interceptions his senior year. In his junior season, Kiel passed for 2,645 yards and 36 touchdowns with six interceptions.

Kiel also carried the ball a bit during his senior season, and at 6'3", 215 pounds, he will be a dual threat in Brian Kelly's spread system.

Tom Lemming spoke about Kiel to, stating that "He shows a good follow through, consistently strides into his throws, shows outstanding footwork and can throw blue darts while on the move." Lemming added, "His accuracy is uncanny and his ability to accurately throw deep is a major plus." praised Kiel's accuracy, consistency, decision-making and field vision, while Allen Trieu of the site said that Kiel's "arm strength is good, but improvement can still be made to push it to elite."

Notre Dame is getting a player who is athletic and has a solid arm, but Kiel's best attribute is his unmatched game intelligence and poise.

He doesn't turn the ball over often, and that is music to Fighting Irish fans' ears considering Notre Dame ranked 110th in turnovers this season, tied with Oklahoma at 29.

So, why did Kiel decide to attend Notre Dame over LSU?

The Indiana product said in a statement reported by ESPN that Notre Dame hit all the critical areas he was looking for in a school, "the quality of education I would receive, the distance from home and the comfort level I would have with the players and coaches in the football program."

Kiel won't be handed the starting position. Rees has the most experience. Hendrix showed promise with a strong arm and an ability to run the ball, and Golson has already been labeled the quarterback of the future without taking a single snap.

When will Kiel become the starter for the Fighting Irish? Well, only time will tell, but the commitment from the nation's best quarterback comes as a welcome surprise.