The Notre Dame Fighting Irish made a huge splash with the signing of Gunner Kiel, but with such a deep depth chart at quarterback, the highly coveted recruit needs to sit out his freshman year.
No doubt he is the future of the program, but he would be best served by taking a redshirt and spending the entire 2012 season learning the ins and outs of Brian Kelly's playbook.
Sure, there is great uncertainty at the QB position, as Kelly has an extremely difficult decision ahead. Picking a starter is a daunting task that will take some time.
However, Kiel does not need to be tossed into the gauntlet right away. The Fighting Irish need to win big now and Kiel isn't quite capable of doing that as a freshman. By redshirting, he'll be preparing himself for greatness down the road, and that is what Notre Dame really needs.
While it's great Kiel enrolled early and is getting a ton of knowledge thrown at him now, the other quarterbacks on the roster still have a leg up on him.
Tommy Rees has the most game experience, Andrew Hendrix started to make noise last year and Everett Golson is a dual-threat QB that has several Fighting Irish fans excited to see him contribute.
They all know the system better than Kiel, which is why he needs to redshirt. Kiel isn't ready to start right away, despite the fact he is being compared to Peyton Manning by Rivals.com.
The 6'4", 220-pound QB has a bright future ahead of him, but things won't end well if the Fighting Irish try to go with him over the other quarterbacks for 2012.
Even if Kelly doesn't announce Kiel as the starter, having him sit on the bench as the No. 2 or No. 3 will be a waste of a year for him. Whoever the starter is, the other two are very capable backups, which means Kiel just needs to focus on learning the system as best as he can in 2012.
Should things go south for Notre Dame during the season—a high possibility given their brutal schedule—Kelly can flip flop between those three QBs.
Forcing Kiel to sit out all of 2012 allows the Fighting Irish to have him for longer, and that is the best decision Kelly can make this offseason.