College Football Recruiting 2012: 8 Star Recruits Headed to an Underdog

Michael PintoSenior Writer IJanuary 15, 2017

College Football Recruiting 2012: 8 Star Recruits Headed to an Underdog

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    When Gunner Kiel, the nation's No. 1 rated quarterback, committed to Indiana over Alabama and Oklahoma last week, the move was met with surprise.  

    Even though Kiel is an Indiana native, it isn't often a blue-chip recruit will bypass the chance to play at premiere programs and instead opt for a less distinguished suitor—be that an in-state school or not.

    Kiel isn't alone, though. Every year there's a handful of 4-star and 5-star prospects with offers from a dozen or more schools that end up committing to an underdog. 

    Or, if you prefer, joining up with David rather than Goliath. 

    From the 2012 class, there's a growing number of prospects headed that route. 

8. Will Gross, QB: Memphis

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    Four-star quarterback Will Gross, one of the nation's top dual-threat passers, committed to Memphis in June over offers from Alabama, Arkansas, Mississippi, Kentucky and North Carolina, among others. 

    A premiere three-sport athlete, Gross excels as a first baseman and small forward as well. 

    Gross has baulked at diving in head first though, and remains no more than a soft verbal to Memphis. There's a good chance he could end up with one of his spurned suitors. 

    For now, the Melrose star is aligned in-state.

6. Josh Dawson, DE, and 7. Brian Kimbrow, RB: Vanderbilt

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    Vanderbilt currently has 12 prospects committed from the 2012 class and all but two of them are rated as 3-star prospects or lower. 

    The exceptions are defensive end Josh Dawson and running back Brian Kimbrow—both of whom are borderline top 25 prospects at their respective positions. 

    Both players had a long list of suitors, but at the end of the day head coach James Franklin convinced the pair that the education Vanderbilt offered was worth bypassing the rest of the SEC for. 

    That leads to the question: Does being in the SEC and competing in the SEC mean the same thing? 

5. Adam DePietro, OG: Northwestern

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    Adam DePietro is one of the highest rated offensive linemen of the 2012 class, projected at both tackle and guard. 

    The Pennsylvania native committed to Northwestern in June, alongside fellow offensive lineman Eric Olson.

    DePietro immediately became the headliner of the Wildcats class as the school's only 4-star recruit. The next step will be following up on his goal to win a Big Ten title.

    It's highly unlikely, but not many David vs. Goliath comparisons could be more spot-on.  

4. Gabriel Marks, CB: SMU

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    A Los Angeles native, Gabriel Marks is an odd case. A highly regarded defensive back that projects at cornerback, safety and wide receiver, Marks pledged to SMU in July. 

    What's odd is that his list of offers wasn't as impressive as you might've guessed. 

    Top prospects from California usually list their offers on three or more hands. Marks chose the Mustangs over lukewarm opportunities at Colorado, Utah and UCLA. 

    Give coach Adrian Klemm all the credit in the world for capitalizing on the opportunity. A lot of people in the Pac-12 will come to regret this one. 

2. Corey Coleman, WR, and 3. Kiante Griffin, S: Baylor

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    Baylor got off to a great start when Kiante Griffin committed back in April. The 4-star safety is arguably one of the top wide receivers in the nation, so there's no denying the versatility he brings to the table. 

    It also can't be denied that his commitment influenced Corey Coleman, another of Texas' stellar wide receivers. 

    Both Griffin and Coleman had their choice of any Big 12 school, as well as offers from the SEC, but Baylor was able to convince the pair that they wanted to be Bears. 

    Now the challenge for coach Art Briles will be avoiding a costly decommitment ala 5-star running back Brandon Williams—one of the nation's top prospects from the 2011 class. 

1. Gunner Kiel, QB: Indiana

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    Kiel's recruitment was a grueling one. He made five trips out to Alabama and four a piece to Oklahoma and Missouri before turning the world upside down with his commitment to Indiana.

    An in-state prospect already being hailed as the Hoosiers top football recruit in school history, most observers were still very critical of the decision.

    You won't find a lot of 5-star quarterbacks bypassing Sooners for Hoosiers.

    But as Kiel told new head coach Fred Glass, as reported by The Republic, "I want to be a Hoosier."

    Right or wrong, that's for Kiel to decide.