Is Gunner Kiel Already the Biggest Flake In Football?

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Notre Dame quarterback Gunner Kiel intends to transfer, a source confirmed to ESPN.com. Notre Dame had no comment. A message left for Kiel’s father, Kip, was not returned. A four-star quarterback from the Class of 2012, Kiel drew notoriety for his recruitment after defecting from both Indiana and LSU. The Columbus (Ind.) High School product redshirted this past fall during the Fighting Irish’s run to the Discover BCS National Championship. He is the nephew of former Notre Dame quarterback Blair Kiel, who died last Easter at the age of 50. Redshirt freshman Everett Golson won the starting job last fall, with junior Tommy Rees seeing extensive playing time, too. Redshirt sophomore Andrew Hendrix was ahead of Kiel on the depth chart last year as well, and Notre Dame welcomed in another quarterback this semester in early enrollee Malik Zaire.

Interesting, yet somewhat predictable, story coming out of South Bend tonight. Gunner Kiel will transfer from ND following the semester.  Kiel was a highly touted national recruit last year and redshirted this season for the Irish, so he still has 4 seasons of eligibilty (3 if he does indeed transfer; he’ll have to sit out next season).

This story gets me going for a few reasons. One: I’m an ND supporter.  Not an obsessed, irrational Irish football fan, but I support ND in hoops and on the gridiron.  Two: Kiel made big headlines two years ago for committing to Indiana. Then he decommitted from Indiana, committed to LSU, showed up at LSU to enroll early before decommitting the night before and returning home to Indiana, and then finally committing and enrolling at Notre Dame.  It was a weird chain of events surrounding a obviously confused kid and got way too much media coverage.  And three: during the first half of the season there was a lot of talk around South Bend, on message boards, rumors flying around through the grapevine about how Kiel was Brian Kelly’s guy.  For the first six games, starting QB Everett Golson struggled at times and there was a ton of chatter about how Kiel and Kelly had daily, one-on-one film sessions and that Golson was just keeping Kiel’s spot warm until next season.  But then the Irish got rolling and Golson played better and better. They expanded his playbook and he gained some veteran seasoning. After the BCS Championship, Kelly made it clear that it was Golson’s job to lose and he was the definite starter heading into the offseason.  So, now, poof! No more Gunner Kiel.

So, before ever taking a snap, has Gunner Kiel already established himself as the biggest flake in college football? All levels of football? No one in the NFL really comes to mind regarding bouncing around teams to avoid competition.  There are definitely other college players who do this, but no one close to Kiel’s talent level and profile.  This is a kid who was supposed to be the savior of IU’s football program.  I don’t blame him at all for changing his mind about that.  There were already insane expectations for him and the Hoosiers when he was still a junior in high school. He would have been on a shit team, and if they didn’t meet expectations he would have been crucified.  Solid audible, Gunner.

Then, on to LSU. He seemed to be a perfect fit for the Bayou Bengals. Big, strong armed kid with an NFL pedigree.  That’s the one thing the Tigers have been missing the last few seasons.  But then he gets down there and before he even officially changes his mind there are reports coming out saying that he’s homesick and worried that he made a mistake. I tried to give him the benefit of the doubt, understand his predicament, but I really couldn’t.  I went 10 hours away from home to play small college baseball and thought I was King of The Castle the first few months. It was a culture shock, sure, but I had the time of my life and you couldn’t pay me to call home regularly.  Gunner Kiel, on the other hand, is about to be groomed to be the next QB of one of the best football programs in the country at one of the best party schools in the country and he’s homesick. Something about this cat ain’t right. When he decided to leave LSU, Les Miles was quoted saying “He did not necessarily have the chest and the ability to lead a program.”  I agreed.  Kiel was starting to look like a real chump.

And now, he spends one redshirt season at ND and they go to the ‘Ship.  Not a single peep out of the kid, just some talk under the surface that he might be taking over in the future. All signs are seemingly positive.  Even if Golson plays out of his mind and stays for two more seasons, Kiel would be the most talented backup on the roster, much more mature, and would have two full seasons of eligibility left. All signs point to Malik Zaire redshirting next season, a year behind Kiel. The Irish seem to be set at QB for a solid handful of years.

Not so fast my friends!  Kiel is shipping off again.  Same story, just a different day. Notre Dame will be fine at QB, they’ll have depth with or without this gingerkin. But I’m interested to see where this kid is gonna end up and I’ll be following his career to see if he ever puts it together.  I’ve wanted to root for him for about two and a half years now, but everywhere he goes he seems to shy away from the pressure.  The kid doesn’t seem to want the competition, the fight.  Seems to want a big-time starting job just handed to him on a silver platter.  Well, Gunner, that’s not how it works. Competitors earn their spot at the table.

If he hated ND and want to play somewhere else now, fine. South Bend is definitely not for everyone and there are at least 10 schools where I would rather play.  But I’m beginning to think that Kiel just doesn’t want the heat.  He doesn’t want to stick it out and try to win the job over other high quality recruits.  Who knows, maybe he doesn’t believe in his abilities. Maybe he’s overwhelmed with it all and thinks that he’s over-hyped.  I doubt that hype will be a problem anymore.  After the last year, any reputable big program is gonna make him earn the starting spot.  It should be interesting to see if he can sack up and follow through, because at this point Gunner Kiel has definitely become college football’s biggest flake.

ps – Ya know who does want the heat? Cameron. Cameron ain’t no punk.

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