Les Miles and LSU’s staff landed a huge commitment from the nation’s top rated quarterback prospect for the Class of 2012. Gunner Kiel, from Columbus, IN, is now a Tiger and is set to enroll at LSU next month and participate in spring practice with the team. Initially, Kiel was strongly considering Alabama and Oklahoma. But he ultimately settled on Indiana, where his brother currently plays quarterback. He re-opened his recruitment in October and chose LSU over Notre Dame and Vanderbilt after taking visits to both schools. Kiel visited LSU for the Arkansas game. He and his family were impressed, and they returned a week later for another visit. Quarterbacks coach Steve Kragthorpe played a huge role in his decision to come to LSU.
In case you don’t have a good idea of just how good a prospect Kiel is, here is how the scouting services rank him:
#1 pro style QB
#18 overall player
#16 overall player
#20 overall player
#1 pro style QB
#12 overall player
You get the point. The consensus is that this guy is really good. Since Kiel is coming in January, expect him to compete right away for the #2 position on next year’s team. He’ll be competing against Stephen Rivers and Jerrard Randall, both set to be redshirt freshmen in 2012. If the staff gets the sense that Kiel is their guy for the future, then I would not expect him to redshirt in 2012. Zach Mettenberger, of course, has the inside track to start in 2012.
Here is ESPN’s evaluation of Kiel:
Kiel is one of the stronger-armed pocket passers this class has to offer and he is a deceptively good athlete. This offense surprisingly features him as a runner more than you might think and he is up to the task with both power and speed to fall forward and keep defenses off balance. He has terrific size and already possesses good bulk and strength. He is the type of player you would expect to see under center in a pro-style attack, but here he is in the shotgun, four-wide offense that attacks the entire field vertically and horizontally because Kiel has the arm to make all the necessary college level throws. He carries the ball tight and compact to his shoulder. Is very consistent in his mechanics and quickly drives the ball with zip and authority. When his feet are set and he transfers his weight he can really hum it. However, Kiel can also change up ball speeds and flashes nice touch and timing on corner and fade routes in the red area. He can dip the ball down the seam between linebackers and safeties with great confidence. He gets rid of the ball very quickly and it is tough to apply pressure on him due to his release and knack for knowing where to go with the football. He just has a nice feel for the offense which comes from experience. He will be used on QB keeps off the zone read and has good feet and elusiveness for his size. Is strong and will lower the shoulder to move the chains. Reminds us of Andy Dalton the former TCU QB in many ways: competitive, tough, can make all the throws and is a good athlete. At times Kiel can be a bit robotic as a passer, isn’t always fluid, but is technically sound with his feet, hips, shoulder tilt and delivery. We wish he were under center a bit more so that he had more experience dropping from center and making reads on the move. That will come in time. The bottom line is that Kiel is accurate, strong armed and in an age where the dual-threat seems to reign supreme, it is refreshing to see the pure passers begin to emerge once again.
Kiel has just about all of the tangible things you look for in a quarterback. Good size. The big arm. Nice touch. Accuracy. Athleticism. What’s most impressive about Kiel to me is his comfort level in the pocket. Most quarterbacks at the high school level are greatly affected by pressure. More often than not, they will move their eyes to the defenders, hopefully avoid them, and then look downfield again. Kiel keeps his eyes downfield and looks like a natural. His athleticism and mobility will surprise you too. He’s certainly no statue back there, and he’s a good enough runner to where LSU will be able to continue running some of the zone-read stuff that they like to use with Jordan Jefferson. ESPN compares him to Andy Dalton which is a good comparison.
As a senior, Kiel passed for 2,517 yards with 28 touchdowns and only four interceptions. He also rushed for 482 yards and 11 touchdowns.
As a junior, Kiel passed for 2,645 yards with 36 touchdowns and just six interceptions. He rushed for 238 yards and seven touchdowns.
As a sophomore, Kiel passed for 2,200 yards and 25 touchdowns. He rushed for 400 yards and five touchdowns.
Here are a pair of highlight videos of Kiel. The first is from his senior season and mainly consists of him passing the ball. The second video is from his junior season and shows off some of his running ability.