Ole Miss, Hugh Freeze Must Avoid Ex-Notre Dame QB Gunner Kiel
Ole Miss football and ex-Notre Dame QB Gunner Kiel would be a bad fit from the very beginning.
While the 6'4'', 220-pound, former rivals.com No. 1 pro-style quarterback is obviously a talented athlete, Hugh Freeze and the Rebels need to stay away from pursuing Kiel based upon two factors: Kiels' inability to fully commit to a school and the fact that Ole Miss already has talent lined up at quarterback.
An Inability to Fully Commit
Kiel is player with NFL potential that simply wants to find playing time as quickly as possible. At Notre Dame, the writing was on the wall after the BCS National Championship game: QB Everett Golson is the future of the Fighting Irish.
As a result, Kiel has decided to take his talents elsewhere after redshirting in South Bend this past season. While you can't blame the kid, he does already have a bit of a checkered past in terms of truly committing to one place. In high school, Kiel verbally committed to play for the Indiana Hoosiers due to the close proximity of his home in Columbus, Ind.
Then Kiel changed his mind and verbally committed to Les Miles' LSU Tigers.
However, he later spurned the Bayou Bengals to Miles' ire just prior to signing day in 2012. In front of an LSU signing day party crowd, Miles publicly took a shot at the indecisive signal-caller:
LSU coach Les Miles calls out Kiel
We needed a quarterback. We lost two. We needed a quarterback in this class. There was a gentleman from Indiana that thought about coming to the Bayou State. He did not necessarily have the chest and the ability to lead a program, so you know.
In the end, Kiel signed with Brian Kelly and Notre Dame. However, the youngster isn't happy with that decision now. Do you see where I'm going with this? As talented as Kiel is as quarterback, he'll carry baggage (and a bit of an ego) with him no matter where he ends up in 2013.
While the quarterback plans to make a decision on his new school later this spring, he currently is courting several potential suitors. Chip Patterson of cbssports.com noted:
Former Notre Dame quarterback Gunner Kiel visited Cincinnati over the weekend, but the former five-star revealed Tuesday that he has a long list of possible transfer locations. Kiel told ESPN.com that, in addition to Cincinnati, the quarterback has been contacted by Ole Miss, Mississippi State, and Kansas State. Kiel also indicated that Tennessee, Ball State, Northern Illinois and Miami (Ohio) are also options.
Young Quarterback Talent Headed to Oxford
Ole Miss needs to let one of these other programs have the former Fighting Irish player. While a move to Oxford could pay dividends for the Rebels, Freeze is now stocked with his own quarterbacks.
By the time Kiel would be eligible to play in 2014 (having to sit out 2013 as a transfer), Ole Miss starter Bo Wallace would be a senior. Kiel would be a true wild-card for Freeze and not worth the risk.
Further, Freeze just landed quality QBs Ryan Buchanan and Devante Kincade in his epic 2013 signing class. Both Rebels would only be entering their second seasons at Ole Miss, vying for the starting job in 2015.
For a program plagued with quarterback issues until the arrival of Bo Wallace last season, Ole Miss would be best served to ultimately pass on the high-stakes game of poker it would be playing by bringing in Kiel. Ahead of summer, there Rebels are already trying to figure out the top reserve quarterback slot.
A program on the rise like Ole Miss doesn't need any undue quarterback controversy or demise of team chemistry in the locker room.
Plus, freshmen Buchanan and Kincade would not exactly arrive on campus this summer feeling rosy knowing that a highly rated transfer had already been brought in.
The ideal situation for Freeze's Rebels would be for Wallace to return healthy from shoulder surgery this fall and have two more solid seasons in Oxford. In the interim, either Buchanan, Kincade or both redshirt as true freshmen in 2013 (assuming Maikhail Miller wins the No. 2 spot this year). Finally in 2015, Buchanan or Kincade are appointed Wallace's successor and the other is the top reserve.
With the boatload of freshmen talent headed to Ole Miss this summer, the Rebels need to ensure a continued team harmony in what has the potential to be an amazing season.
Putting It All Together
While the No. 2 quarterback position is rocky at the moment, the talent should be waiting in line at quarterback this time next year. For that reason and Kiel's proven inability to show a true commitment anywhere, it's in the Rebels' best interest to simply pass on him.
As for the transfer himself, Cincinnati and Tennessee would appear to be among the most logical places for him to land. New head Bearcat Tommy Tuberville would love to showcase a player like Kiel in his brand of offense, and there may be mutual interest following a recent campus visit.
However, Volunteers coach Butch Jones could easily attract Kiel to Rocky Top for a career in the SEC. Jones is already piecing together a solid recruiting class for 2014, and the addition of Kiel would only help lure more top talent to Knoxville.
Kiel is set to soon "commit" to his fourth school in less than two years, as he first verbally committed to Indiana in July 2011. While he'll likely find success once he finally gets on the field, history would have to make coaches think twice about his true level of commitment in his fourth try.
Here's to hoping Freeze and Ole Miss avoid the possibility entirely. It's not a risk worth taking.
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