Possible SEC Destinations for Gunner Kiel (Looking at You Arkansas & Tennessee)
Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports
In what was one of the least surprising moves of the college football offseason, Notre Dame quarterback Gunner Kiel will reportedly transfer out of Notre Dame after a redshirt season in South Bend, according to the Irish Sports Daily.
After Everett Golson established himself as the No. 1 quarterback as a redshirt freshman in 2012, the writing was on the wall for Kiel. After all, is he really going to sit behind Golson for three more years?
Considering all that Kiel brings to the table, that may be asking too much.
If and when he's granted a release, there will be plenty of options for the former 5-star prospect who was rated as the No. 1 pro-style quarterback in the class of 2012 by 247Sports.com. Could some of those potential landing spots be in the SEC?
Kiel was at one time committed to LSU during the recruiting process, but his de-commitment from the Tigers caused a rather visceral reaction from head coach Les Miles. The night of national signing day in 2012, the Mad Hatter suggested that Kiel "didn't have the chest" to lead his program.
While LSU may be an option on paper, that little sound bite makes it a virtual impossibility.
What about Tennessee?
First head coach Butch Jones will enter spring practice with junior Justin Worley and redshirt freshman Nathan Peterman battling for the spot formerly occupied by Tyler Bray. Joshua Dobbs and Riley Ferguson will enter the fray this summer, but it's never a bad thing to have too many options at quarterback.
Jones likes to spread the field, and Kiel certainly has the ability to do that.
Tennessee would be a good fit, especially if Worley wins the job. That would allow Kiel to sit out during his transfer year, join the mix during Worley's senior season and then have two years to be the starter if he's able to win the job.
But there are plenty of other potential landing sports for Kiel, particularly in Fayetteville with the Arkansas Razorbacks. First-year head coach Bret Bielema didn't shy away from taking transfers during his final two seasons at Wisconsin, accepting Russell Wilson and Danny O'Brien.
Bielema will enter his first spring practice with Brandon Allen and (likely) Brandon Mitchell vying for the top spot on the depth chart, with Austin Allen and Damon Mitchell joining the battle this summer.
If Brandon Mitchell successfully makes the switch back to quarterback from wide receiver for his senior season, that would allow Kiel to slide right in next spring and compete for the job.
Then, of course, there's the Auburn Tigers.
The Tigers—and first-year head coach Gus Malzahn in particular—have been rather successful with transfer quarterbacks on the Plains.
Chris Todd landed at Auburn after stints at Texas Tech and Hutchinson (Kansas) Community College before Malzahn arrived as offensive coordinator. After a less-than-stellar 2008 campaign, Malzahn was able to set what was at the time an Auburn single-season record for total offense with 5,613 total yards with Todd at the helm.
Will Gunner Kiel transfer to an SEC program?
The very next season Cam Newton transferred in from Blinn College in Texas after a stop at Florida, won the Heisman Trophy, led the Auburn Tigers to the BCS National Championship and helped the Tigers set another single-season total offense record with 6,989 total yards.
Auburn feels good about its quarterback of the future with incoming gunslinger Jeremy Johnson, but "too many quarterbacks" is a good problem to have.
SI.com lists Ball State, Miami (Ohio), Northern Illinois and Cincinnati as possible landing spots for Kiel. He'd be doing a disservice to himself to go that route.
If he's going to transfer to a Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) program, he should consider higher-profile programs. He may not have had "the chest" to lead LSU last year, but he certainly has the talent to put himself into consideration for several SEC programs.
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