Notre Dame has had three players decide to transfer from the University since the end of the 2012 season. On Wednesday we learned the destination of two of those players with Gunner Kiel heading to Cincinnati and Davonte Neal selecting Arizona.
Gunner Kiel came to Notre Dame as a 5-star high school quarterback, but spent the 2012 season as a scout team quarterback for the Fighting Irish. It was thought that he would challenge for the #2 quarterback spot this fall and push incumbent starter Everett Golson. With Golson having three yeas of eligibility and really growing into the starting role, Kiel decided to transfer before the start of spring practice.
Kiel’s choice of Cincinnati should not come as shock to anyone. Cincinnati is not far from Kiel’s hometown of Columbus, Indiana and the Bearcats recruited him out of high school. Cincinnati is also not on Notre Dame’s schedule during the next four years which was likely part of his release from his scholarship as is usually the case with any transfers.
Davonte Neal will also be headed close to home by enrolling with his home state Arizona where he he’ll join Rich Rodriguez’s Wildcats. When new broke that Neal was transferring, it was reported that he was doing so in order to be closer to his infant child. Originally his girlfriend and child were going to move closer to Notre Dame, but in the end it was Neal who ended up doing the moving.
Notre Dame will miss Neal on the field much more in 2013 as the sophomore was in position to be used as Notre Dame’s slot receiver and primary punt return man. While Kiel could have challenged for the backup quarterback position, Notre Dame is in fine shape with the steady hand of Tommy Rees serving as Golson’s backup again this year. Based on Brian Kelly’s recent comments over the mental maturity of early enrollee Malik Zaire, the Irish quarterback position also looks to be in fine shape long term.
At Cincinnati Kiel will have the chance to challenge for the starting quarterback postion in 2014 with the Bearcats currently featuring two senior quarterbacks at the top of their depth chart in 2013. With Golson having three years of eligibility remaining, it’s very possible that Kiel may not have had that same chance until 2016 at Notre Dame.
Neal on the other hand could potentially see the field as early as this fall if he is granted a hardship waiver from the NCAA. Last year Amir Carlisle was granted a hardship waiver by the NCAA after he transferred to Notre Dame to be closer to his family.
Justin Ferguson, a rising sophomore wide receiver, also decided to transfer from Notre Dame this spring, but to this point he has not decided on where he will be enrolling next.