Multiple reports have indicated tonight that Notre Dame freshman quarterback Gunner Kiel intends to transfer from Notre Dame. Irish Sports Daily broke the story earlier tonight and the report has since been confirmed by multiple news outlets.
Gunner Kiel enrolled at Notre Dame last January at the last minute after previously being committed to LSU and set to enroll early in Baton Rouge. Kiel had a last minute change of heart, however, and enrolled at Notre Dame where he spent the spring and fall as Notre Dame’s 4th string quarterback.
Kiel was set to challenge for the backup quarterback role behind Everett Golson this spring along with Tommy Rees, Andrew Hendrix, and 2013 early enrollee Malik Zaire. He spent the 2012 season as Notre Dame’s scout team and deflected questions at the BCS Championship media day in January about transferring.
With Kiel set to transfer now though, the Irish will head into spring practice with four quarterbacks.
Given Golson’s emergence in 2012 and the three years of eligibility that he has remaining, it should not be surprising that a quarterback would end up transferring from Notre Dame, but it is surprising that Kiel has made the decision now instead of waiting to see how the depth chart shook out after spring practice since he will have to sit out the 2013 season wherever he ends up anyway.
Kiel’s apparent imminent transfer could also change Notre Dame’s recruiting plans since Tommy Rees is out of eligibility after this season which would leave Notre Dame with Golson and Zaire with the possibility of a 5th year for Andrew Hendrix in 2014.
Kiel’s decision to transfer could also impact what Notre Dame does with Zaire this season. In a perfect world, the Irish coaching staff would have probably preferred that he redshirt this season as Golson did in 2011, but given the potential lack of depth in 2014, they will need to make sure that Zaire gains enough reps this year to be ready to serve at least a backup role in 2014.
Tonight’s news brings an abrupt end to a rather peculiar and brief career for Kiel at Notre Dame. Early on in the recruiting process Kiel seemed like a lock for Notre Dame – the alma mater of his uncle, former Notre Dame quarterback Blair Kiel – before he committed to Indiana. After decommitting from Indiana, it again appeared as though Kiel would end up at Notre Dame before he committed to LSU. After finally ending up enrolled at Notre Dame, his Irish career turned out to last just over 13 months.