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Monday, July 30, 2012
Top 25 player countdown: No. 25

By Matt Fortuna

It's that time of the year again. Or, in the case of the Notre Dame blog, the start of something new.

My conference-bloggin' colleagues count down the top 25 players in their conferences before each season, with the top choice being revealed the Friday of the first weekend of games. It is fun, debate-worthy and maddening all at once, as almost everyone sees most players differently. How do you compare a cornerback to a running back? Can a back-up quarterback be better than a starting linebacker?

The ground rules: The rankings are not based on NFL potential. This is a subjective list based on past accomplishments and remaining college potential. Fortunately for the majority of readers of this space, we are only dealing with one team here, so one fan base won't feel jilted in favor of another. (As can be the case when dealing with players from upwards of 14 different schools, not just one.)

In any case, I'm sure many of you won't see eye-to-eye to with a few (or more than a few) of these. I look forward to hearing your responses.

With that, we begin today with No. 25.

No. 25. Gunner Kiel, QB



2011 numbers: As a senior at Columbus East (Ind.) High School, Kiel threw for 2,517 yards, 28 touchdowns and four interceptions, according to ESPN Recruiting.

Making the case for Kiel: Kiel was ESPN's No. 2 quarterback for the Class of 2012, de-committing from Indiana and later from LSU to eventually land with the nearby Irish, pulling off one of the more interesting twists of the 2012 recruiting season. The 6-foot-4, 210-pound true freshman saw limited action in the spring game three months after his arrival, entering and playing the entire second half, which featured two eight-minute quarters and had a running clock. Kiel finished the day 5-of-10 for 57 yards with an interception, and he added three rushes for 15 yards. Kiel enters a position group that features three more experienced contenders in front of him, which means we may not see much of him this season. But he is the signature recruit of the Brian Kelly era, and his raw tools suggest that he can one day assume the throne, shoot up these rankings and eventually become the quarterback that Notre Dame fans have been waiting for.