Commentary

Gunner Kiel -- gasp! -- talks recruiting

With lips normally tighter than his spiral, nation's No. 1 QB opens up about process

Updated: July 19, 2011, 5:28 PM ET
By Mitch Sherman | ESPN Recruiting

MALIBU, Calif. -- The nation's No. 1 quarterback prospect is closer to a college decision.

Strong-armed Gunner Kiel (Columbus, Ind./East) said Monday night after the opening practice at the Elite 11 finals that he hoped to make a choice before the start of his upcoming senior season.

That's quite an admission from Kiel, who rarely grants interviews and talks even less often in public about the recruiting process. He's coveted by dozens of schools and is believed to have given strong consideration to Alabama, Oklahoma, Indiana, Missouri, Tennessee, Michigan and Notre Dame.

"There's a few schools out there," Kiel said.

You see, that's the kind of insight Kiel typically offers.

He wanted to settle on a school in June but delayed the decision when word leaked of his plans. When he commits -- likely in August -- Kiel said he'll notify the lucky coach and tell his family. That's about it.

"I think about college the whole time," said Kiel, No. 12 overall in the ESPNU 150," but at the end of the day, I'm not going to make it a big thing.

"It'll probably just gradually get out."

Of course, there will be nothing gradual about the spread of news on Kiel's choice, which figures to create one of the biggest stories of this recruiting season.

[+] EnlargeGunner Kiel
Tom Hauck for ESPN.comGunner Kiel called an audible last signing day and opted for Notre Dame.
"I love the recruiting process," Kiel said. "To be honest, I couldn't be in any luckier position. There's kids out there who would die to be in the position I'm in now. I just think of it as a positive and take every day as a blessing." So why the tight-lipped approach?

"I don't like to talk about myself too much," he said. "I'm a big team player, so whenever I get interviewed I just keep it simple -- like I am right now."

He offered a couple of nuggets Monday, saying he had visited all of his finalists and that he planned no more trips. He has spent much of the summer in school to graduate in December and start his college career in time to participate on the field next spring.

Kiel said he likely would eliminate a school that includes another quarterback in its recruiting class. Notably, Oklahoma recently accepted a pledge from the No. 23-rated QB, Trevor Knight of Ronald Reagan High School in San Antonio. Knight previously had committed to Texas A&M.

"That's fine," Kiel said. "If that happens, then it wasn't meant to be."

But if Oklahoma's out, Kiel declined to confirm it.

He talked specifically about only one of his finalists -- Indiana, where his brother, Dusty, will be a redshirt sophomore this fall. Gunner said he liked the direction of the home-state Hoosiers under first-year coach Kevin Wilson.

"They're definitely going to come out and win football games," he said. "Coach Wilson's definitely a fiery guy. My brother is going to playing quarterback, so I'll be at games watching him and cheering him on."

Kiel talks regularly to his brother about Indiana, and he knows several players on the team.

"They've got their heads on straight to win football games," he said. "I really hope they do."

It would rank as a shocker in the recruiting world if Indiana landed the 6-foot-4, 222-pound Kiel. With his aversion to the spotlight, Kiel might just be the guy to do it, though.

He passed for 2,645 yards and 36 touchdowns in 11 games as a junior and headlines a 24-man field this week on the picturesque Pepperdine campus.

Kiel's attitude about recruiting does not translate to the field. He often led drills in his group Monday night and appeared at the center of playful activity among the young quarterbacks. Kiel performed well under the direction of former NFL QB Trent Dilfer and other instructors, including several current college quarterbacks.

Practices continue through Friday, with the naming of 11 finalists and a camp MVP. Kiel ranks as one of the favorites but is surely not a slam dunk with the likes of Jameis Winston (Hueytown, Ala./Hueytown), Connor Brewer (Scottsdale, Ariz./Chaparral) and others in attendance.

"I know it's out there that I'm the No. 1 quarterback in the nation, but that's just a number," Kiel said. "There's great players out here right now who people think are better than me. They could be right, but I don't really think of it like that.

"I've got to come out here and play my hardest, do my best. But I like to keep it low key."

Not an easy task, when you're Gunner Kiel.

Mitch Sherman is a senior writer for ESPN.com. He can be reached at mshermanespn@gmail.com.

Follow Mitch Sherman on Twitter @mitchsherman