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Tuesday, January 17, 2012
Gunner Kiel enrolls at Notre Dame

ESPN.com news services

Gunner Kiel enrolled at Notre Dame on Tuesday, ending a recruiting saga that saw the highly touted quarterback from Indiana choose two other schools, then change his mind.

Kiel is ranked second among quarterbacks and 20th nationally on the ESPNU 150 for the recruiting Class of 2012.

"This recruitment process was a roller-coaster ride at times, but I know I have made the right decision for my family and me," Kiel said in a statement. "There were three critical elements I was looking for in my future school: the quality of education I would receive, the distance from home and the comfort level I would have with the players and coaches in the football program. Notre Dame was the perfect fit for me because it hit all three areas.

"Coach [Brian] Kelly was great throughout my recruitment, as many times our conversations had nothing do with football. That really showed me he had my best intentions in mind. He was persistent yet also patient while recruiting me and I look forward to playing for him the next four years."

Kiel (Columbus, Ind./Columbus East) initially committed to Indiana, but then backed off that pledge and chose LSU over Notre Dame and Vanderbilt.

Kiel reached out to Kelly this past weekend after having second thoughts about LSU, a source told ESPN college football reporter Joe Schad. Kelly met with Kiel and his family in South Bend on Tuesday.

ESPNU's No. 2 quarterback and 20th overall prospect passed for 2,517 yards and 28 touchdowns as a senior and rushed for 482 yards and 11 more scores. He was Indiana's Mr. Football and named the Gatorade Indiana Player of the Year. Kiel passed for 7,175 yards in his high school career.

Kiel has a longstanding relationship with Kelly, based on the coach having recruited his brother, Drew, to Central Michigan and brother, Dusty, to Cincinnati. Kelly stressed to Kiel not only that he could help develop Kiel and that he was a good fit for the Notre Dame offense but that Notre Dame would be an institution that could open doors for him in the future. Kiel is also the nephew of former Notre Dame quarterback Blair Kiel.

Kiel was packing for LSU this weekend when it hit him how far Baton Rouge was in comparison to South Bend, a three-hour drive, the source told Schad.

LSU coach Les Miles expressed empathy for Kiel, saying that choosing a college is a complicated process.

"There's a point in time where young people make a variety of decisions, and for a variety of reasons," he said at a news conference. "The only thing I can tell you is there is a guy in the Midwest who felt staying close to home was the right thing."

Miles said he understood the difficulty of making a decision with family in mind, but that he would rather have players who are happy in Baton Rouge.

"There's a guy in any number of places where the decision comes down to staying close to family or representing a stadium or team nearby," he said. "If that's the case, we need to have people who are going to be happier in Louisiana."

Kiel will compete with Tommy Rees, Andrew Hendrix and Everett Golson for playing time at Notre Dame.

Kiel has also said that Kelly and Notre Dame appealed to his "Midwest values."

Sheldon Day (Indianapolis, Ind./Warren Central) and defensive back Tee Shepard had enrolled after graduating high school early. Another addition to the football team, running back Amir Carlisle, also enrolled Tuesday after transferring from USC.

ESPN college football reporter Joe Schad, ESPN.com Notre Dame blogger Matt Fortuna and David Helman of GeauxTigerNation contributed to this report.