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Thursday, February 2, 2012
Les Miles questions Kiel's leadership

ESPN.com news services

Last month, when highly touted quarterback prospect Gunner Kiel reversed his commitment to LSU and enrolled closer to home at Notre Dame, Tigers coach Les Miles didn't criticize Kiel for changing his mind.

Miles sure didn't hold back on Wednesday.

In an appearance at the Tiger Gridiron Club's annual national signing day "Bayou Bash" in Baton Rouge, Miles questioned Kiel's ability to lead, adding he felt the program had done better by winning a commitment from Jeremy Liggins (Oxford, Miss./Lafayette).

Liggins, who's listed at 6-foot-3 and 270 pounds, was rated No. 118 in the ESPNU 150 and No. 12 at his position.

In video footage posted on the website of The Daily Reveille, the student newspaper at LSU, Miles said the Tigers needed a quarterback in the 2012 recruiting class.

"There was a gentleman from Indiana that thought about coming to the Bayou state," Miles said. "He did not necessarily have the chest and the ability to lead a program, so you know," he added to applause.

Instead, the Tigers landed Liggins, a quarterback who announced his choice of LSU from a restaurant in Oxford, spurning hometown Mississippi and Mississippi State.

"Liggins stood up in the middle of Mississippi and said, 'I'm going to a place where we can win a national championship,' and I like that man's style," Miles said at the Bayou Bash, according to The Daily Reveille video.

He elaborated on his happiness with Liggins in a news conference on Wednesday.

"I recommended he not stand up in the square at Oxford and tell everybody he was going [to LSU]," Miles said, according to The (New Orleans) Times-Picayune. "He said, 'I enjoy these people. These people are my home. I want to make my announcement there.' I felt that was a big-chested, straightforward way to conduct business. He became a better prospect to me the way he handled his business."

Kiel, of Columbus, Ind., enrolled early at Notre Dame on Jan. 17, after a saga in which he verbally commited to Indiana, changed his mind and selected LSU, then had second thoughts about the distance from home and picked Notre Dame. He is ranked second among quarterbacks and 20th nationally on the ESPNU 150 for the 2012 recruiting class.

If Miles felt any bitterness about Kiel's decision, he didn't show it at the time.

"There's a point in time where young people make a variety of decisions, and for a variety of reasons," Miles said the day Kiel enrolled at Notre Dame. "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."

"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."

Wednesday, Miles said LSU never stopped recruiting Liggins, even when it appeared Kiel was coming to Baton Rouge.

"At no time did we stop recruiting Liggins," Miles said, according to The Times-Picayune. "He was a priority for us, a guy who can throw the football and move his feet and give us a talented prospect at QB."

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.