Gunner Kiel gets home schooled
If UA All-American Gunner Kiel has a QB question, he doesn't go far for the answers
Some of the nation's top quarterbacks have personal coaches, but not Under Armour All-American Gunner Kiel.
He doesn't need one considering he can get answers to all his questions right at the dinner table.
Gunner's father, Kip, played at Butler University; his oldest brother, Drew, played at Illinois State; and his other older brother, Dusty, currently plays at Indiana. If Gunner wants another opinion, his uncle Blair was a four-year starter at Notre Dame in the early 1980s before embarking on a nine-year NFL career.
"My dad and my two brothers have basically been my QB coaches," Gunner Kiel said. "They have passed on the knowledge they have learned in college and from the camps they went to while I was younger. They always worked with me on my drops and getting the ball out quicker. ... All of the things necessary to be the best quarterback I can be."
Kiel, 6-foot-3, 215-pounds and a member of the ESPNU 150 Watch List, has received scholarship offers from Oklahoma, Alabama, Colorado, Indiana, Michigan, TCU, Tennessee, Wisconsin, Notre Dame and a host of others. The attention isn't surprising after Kiel accounted for more than 3,000 yards of offense and 46 touchdowns as a junior.
ESPNU 150 Watch List QB isn't real talkative about what schools he likes, or who he's favoring. But he did talk about a few schools that are recruiting him.
Michigan: "They have a new coaching staff and they are bringing a new offense on the table that's going to feature the passing game a lot. It's going to be a good system and they will be successful."
Indiana: "Coach [Kevin] Wilson is very intense. The type of offense they run is very quick and high tech. My brother is there and he's really likes how everything is going so far."
Oklahoma: "Coach [Josh] Heupel and Coach [Bob] Stoops expect a lot from their players and especially their quarterbacks. It shows in the championships and the teams that have come through the program."
Notre Dame: "Their program is very family oriented and there are a lot of good people there. I've known Coach [Brian] Kelly and Coach [Charley] Molnar for a little while now. I like what they are doing."
"I would probably say he's the best out of all of us, there's probably no question about that," Drew said. "He's learned a lot from us and he's also has a lot of natural talent."
Drew elaborates further by saying that his younger brother's current recruiting situation should help him continue to improve as a quarterback.
"In [Gunner's] case, he can be a lot more relaxed with the process because he doesn't have to worry about the stress of getting the offers," he added. "He can focus on just becoming a better quarterback and that's going to be an advantage for him."
While Kip Kiel isn't necessarily going to call Gunner the best of the bunch yet, he also credits the ability to learn from his two older brothers as an element to his success.
"I wouldn't call him the ultimate Kiel because I've got three sons that are all excellent players and each one does something a little better than the others," Kip said. "Gunner still has a long way to go but he's fortunate to have two older brothers that know the game and love the game, and he's been smart enough pick their brains along the way."
Despite his older brother's declaration, the youngest Kiel remains a tough critic of his game on the field and his leadership skills -- both of which he works diligently to improve.
"I've tried to be a better leader for my team and try to be with them as much as possible," he said. "We're working on putting in the extra effort and doing everything as a team. I still need to be more vocal and be the person that people can rely on. I try to be upbeat about everything -- workouts, conditioning, studying the playbook. We've got a young team so it's a great opportunity to instill positive work ethics. So far everything has been going well. The more we talk about it the more positive the reactions have been. We're going to be a better football team this fall."
Kiel's leadership skills are what he feels will put him over the top as a prospect and a teammate. That and his will to win every time he steps on the field.
"I'm a great competitor, I hate to lose," Kiel said. "I'm going to work as hard as possible and try to make the other players on the team better every single day. Hopefully I can be the consummate teammate."
Not surprisingly the competitive gene runs in the Kiel family.
"The competition as far as being the best quarterback, I never saw that," Kip Kiel said. "But you put them on the basketball court here and it's a brawl."
He goes further into the competitive environment mentioning that Dusty got upset after losing in a video game during the past weekend.
"It's typical brother stuff," Kip adds. "All three are very close and they communicate with each other every day. They are happy with each other's success. My wife and I are very lucky."
When it comes to discussing other aspects of recruiting, Gunner Kiel is coy about which colleges he has visited and exactly what his future plans are. He visited Missouri last season and he's been to Oklahoma at least once.
"I've taken a few visits and I'm just trying to enjoy the spring and stay low key, for the most part," Kiel said. "But I've been to a few places."
As for what style of offense Kiel prefers, he believes he can adjust to any.
"I think I can fit in anywhere at the next level. And although there are always some changes and that's why I'm very open on recruiting, I think I can learn any offense," Kiel added. "I can do the three-, five- and seven-step drops. I feel like I'm a strong enough quarterback that I can develop into the right player for whichever scheme."
Much of Kiel's low-key approach to recruiting fits his personality. He might be receiving a lot of attention, but he isn't allowing the process to get too much for him to handle.
"He's a pretty laid-back kid and I think he's kind of embarrassed by all the attention," Kip Kiel said. "He doesn't like to get on the phone and talk about it too much. I think he avoids it actually. He's a humble kid and he has a lot of friends that he likes to hang out with.
"His older brothers went through the process and they tell him that all these people are going to tell you what you want to hear and it's up to you to go find the right school that fits what you want. And know that wherever you go you're going to have to compete hard and bust your butt."
One of the main things that Drew cautions his brother about is time management and how rigorous the schedule can be for a quarterback at the next level.
"Being able to balance the school side of it with football is very difficult," he said. "Just the schedule was a huge shock for me from workouts in the morning to school all day and practice in the evening. It's a grind. And the whole mental side of the game is much different, especially for a quarterback."
However strong the warnings are, the best way to understand it is through experience.
"He knows it's not going to be fun, it's a job, his brothers tell him that," Kip Kiel said. "But you really don't understand it until you experience it. When Drew and Dusty went through those first practices they said they felt like the worst quarterbacks in the world. Gunner will feel the same way and that's part of the process."
As for the near future, Kiel expects to participate in the Elite 11 national showcase in California later this summer. Whether or not Kiel is committed to a program by then remains to be seen, but he's in no rush.
"Whenever the time is right and I get that gut feeling that this is the right place, I'll make the decision," Kiel said. "But right now I'm just looking at what's out there and how it fits into what I'm looking for."
Corey Long has been covering high school football and recruiting in the Sunshine State since 1995. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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