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To date, there has been more chatter about Kiel's winding road to South Bend -- first Indiana, then LSU, then Notre Dame -- than his potential impact in 2012. Expect the focus to gradually shift, though, toward the January enrollee's ability.
Where does he stand in relation to other suitors such as Tommy Rees and Andrew Hendrix? Impossible to say this early, but Kiel is at least in the conversation, and that's saying something. Perhaps it says as much about the Irish's need for an emergent quarterback as anything else (only five teams threw more INTs in 2011 than the Fighting Irish).
It takes maturity to play as a freshman, clearly. Kiel passed one of his first tests on that front: When quizzed by reporters for the first time since enrolling, he did not jab back at LSU coach Les Miles after a spurned Miles had questioned Kiel's leadership potential. Instead, Kiel said the comments would be used as motivation.