The nation's top-ranked high school quarterback for the Class of 2012 remains uncommitted. And Oklahoma has emerged as one of the leading candidates to land him.
Gunner Kiel, a senior from Columbus, Ind., has yet to definitively hint in any direction and recently postponed his scheduled announcement of where he will attend college.
Tom Luginbill, an ESPN recruiting analyst, said the interest for Kiel is coming from all across the nation, but a few schools have separated themselves a bit.
“I think that Tennessee, Alabama and Oklahoma are really in the thick of it,” Luginbill said. “But I don't really know what he is going to do.”
And neither do the Sooners.
But that won't stop their fan base from getting excited. With a legitimate shot at landing the top-ranked signal caller and a recent influx of talented wide receivers set to hit campus, the future of the OU offense looks bright.
So, if the 6-foot-4, 210-pound Kiel ever finds his way to Owen Field, what kind of show are the fans going to get?
“He is one of the more physically developed prospects of this class, in terms of both stature and athleticism,” Luginbill said. “He has a very compact delivery, and the ball comes out accurately and smoothly.”
That was exhibited last year at Columbus East High School when he threw for 2,645 yards and 36 touchdowns in 11 games.
But Kiel is not your typical pocket passer. His 238 rushing yards and seven touchdowns on the ground show his mobility.
“He may not be called on as a designated runner as much as he is at the high school level,” Luginbill said. “But I think his ability to run will add a nice dimension.”
That is what Luginbill said separates him from others at his position. Kiel may not be a dual-threat quarterback, but he doesn't have to be.
“He has deceptive athleticism,” Luginbill said. “He can keep plays alive with his legs and create on his own a little bit to get out of trouble.”
Kiel learned that style of quarterbacking from a young age. His uncle, Blair, was the starting quarterback for Notre Dame from 1980-1983 and had a brief career in the NFL.
It doesn't stop there. Both of his brothers have already started their collegiate careers. Dusty is a quarterback at Indiana, while Drew plays the same position at Illinois State.
“From a very early age, it is all he has seen and all he has known,” Luginbill said. “It has probably been something where he has been able to watch and learn and grasp on to some things that are important and also see some of the pitfalls that can get in the way.”
Now, Kiel projects as the best prospect of his family. Part of that is talent. Part of that is experience. And part of that can be attributed to his high school system.
At Columbus East, Kiel runs a diverse offense. Sometimes, he is under center running a pro-style attack. Sometimes, he is in the shotgun running a spread-type look.
That's why his offer sheet looks more like a weekend shopping list for a family of eight.
“He can play in any system,” Luginbill said. “You see some guys who have to be in a spread look or they have to run a West Coast scheme. I think with Gunner, you could throw him into any scheme and he would thrive.”
But that is not what Sooner fans are wondering. They want to know how he would fit in Bob Stoops' offense.
“Fantastically. I think he would be a perfect fit,” Luginbill said. “They are so multiple in what they do. It's play action and it's under center. Then it's shotgun, move the pocket and move the launchpoint. All things that he does very well.”
Scouting Report: Gunner Kiel
Weight: 210 pounds
High school: Columbus (Ind.) North
Strengths: He's got the size to see over the defense and the build to take and deliver any punishment. Scouts rave about his awareness and pocket presence. Could be the complete package.
Quote: “He is as polished a quarterback coming out of high school as there has been in a while. He is a physical kid who can make plays with his legs and deliver a hit. He has got a big arm and can make all the throws,” Steve Wiltfong, 247sports.com
Weaknesses: Half the battle for college quarterbacks is finding the right system to complement your abilities. Some top prospects have fizzled because they were miscast in an offense. With the extended recruiting process and offers from around the country, Kiel is probably making sure whatever school he picks runs the style he wants to play.
Quote: “For him, it will be about digesting the playbook on the next level and learning how to read college defenses. From a physical standpoint, he is there and he is ready. It will just come down to how fast and quickly he can read defenses pre-snap,” Steve Wiltfong, 247sports.com
Schools considering: Offers have come in from across the country, and Kiel could basically take his pick of any school.
Quote: “Gunner has kept favorites close to the vest. He has taken multiple visits to Oklahoma, Alabama, Missouri and Indiana. He has also had the chance to visit Michigan, Iowa, and Northwestern,” Steve Wiltfong, 247sports.com
Comparison: Looking through the professional ranks, his game is similar to that of Matt Cassel. They are built almost identically (6-foot-4, with Cassel having 20 pounds on the younger Kiel) and both show surprising mobility for that size.
Quote: “A guy we have compared him to is Andrew Luck. We are not saying he is Andrew Luck, but he is that guy who can run people over, he is a competitor and a great leader. He is a stud,” Steve Wiltfong, 247sports.com
By Anthony Slater