Saturday, July 30, 2011

What Gunner Kiel means to Indiana recruiting

The number one high school quarterback in the country has committed to play college football for the Indiana Hoosiers. That sentence is not a joke, nor mistake, nor lie. It is the truth. Gunner Kiel, a Columbus, Indiana native and younger brother of current Indiana QB Dusty Kiel, verbally committed to his home state Hoosiers today while on campus. This marks a truly important moment in the future of IU football. Though it is obviously far too early to declare Indiana as a force in the Big Ten, one could easily argue that they are on the fast track out of the conference basement,

This is a huge score for new Indiana coach Kevin Wilson. Though he has yet to coach a game, Wilson has quickly earning the support of the Hoosier fanbase and actually gaining some national attention for the Indiana football program. The latter is no easy task, as basketball is king across the entire state of Indiana and most people only associate Peyton Manning and Notre Dame with football in this state (provided they know Notre Dame is actually in Indiana). Kiel’s commitment to Indiana has already turned the heads of the national media. Although most people are in the mindset of “the top quarterback is going WHERE?!” at least they are talking about IU football.

An obvious comparison to make here is to the commitment of Cody Zeller to the Indiana basketball program. Both football and men’s basketball have fallen on hard times in recent years (while I was a student, of course) and basketball received a much needed shot in the arm when they landed the 5* big man from Washington, IN. Football fans surely hope that the same kind of recruiting run that solidified Tom Crean as the “right guy” will occur for Wilson. Indiana as a state is not nearly as talent-rich on the gridiron as on the hardwood, but the opportunity to land a 5* quarterback from within the borders arose and Wilson made it happen. And while he is clearly the biggest, Kiel is not the only big name in the state. Indiana has already landed a commitment from Warren Central wideout Kevin Davis, considered by many to be the top receiver in the state. Several other prospects remain on Wilson’s radar, including Sheldon Day and Tyrone Pearson. It is unrealistic to think that the Kiel commitment will automatically lead to other big names choosing IU, but it will certainly help change the perception of this program. The number one quarterback chose a school that has won one conference game in each of the last three seasons, and hasn’t been to a bowl game since the 2007 season (Gunner wasn’t even in high school yet).

Gunner Kiel’s commitment to Indiana will do a lot for the Hoosier football program. He has put Indiana and Kevin Wilson on the front page of national recruiting media, he has already excited some other prospective college athletes, and most of all – the dude is a phenomenal quarterback. While this post dealt with Gunner’s impact on recruiting and perception of the program, stay tuned for my analysis on what it means for the Hoosiers ON the field, where it really counts.

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