Top-rated QB Gunner Kiel leaves Notre Dame after one season

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Graham Watson
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Gunner Kiel’s time at Notre Dame was over before it even began.

The rising redshirt freshman has opted to transfer, according to coach Brian Kelly, after spending the past season behind sophomore starter Everett Golson on the depth chart.

While Kelly didn’t name Kiel’s potential destination, he did say Kiel’s list of transfer schools did not include any of the Irish’s upcoming opponents. Notre Dame plays Temple, Michigan, Purdue, Michigan State, Oklahoma, Arizona State, USC, Air Force, Navy, Pitt, BYU and Stanford on its 2013 schedule.

Kelly said he was a little surprised Kiel, the nation’s best pro-style quarterback from the 2012 class, wanted to transfer, especially since the coaching staff had told him he’d have an ample opportunity to compete for the starting role this spring.

"We had kind of created an opportunity for him to compete in the spring," Kelly said. "So maybe a little surprised from that standpoint, because he was actually told he'd be given the opportunity to compete. Sometimes when you don't hear that, you wouldn't be surprised.

"While we are sad when kids don't go through the entire program, we want what's best for them. We are educators as well as coaches."

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But it was clear unseating Golson, who helped lead the Irish to the BCS championship game, was not going to be an easy task, especially with three other quarterbacks on the roster, most of whom had playing experience.

This ends a strange year for Kiel, who was initially committed to Indiana before switching to LSU. Prior to national signing day, Kiel abruptly switched his commitment from the Tigers to the Irish and enrolled for the spring semester. However, he failed to seize the open quarterback race and was left to spend a redshirt season on the bench.

LSU coach Les Miles criticized Kiel’s decision to spurn the Tigers and told a group of boosters “[Kiel] did not necessarily have the chest and the ability to lead a program.”

During the week leading up to the national championship, Kiel told media he wasn’t mad at Miles for his comments and that the way he approached the recruiting process was wrong.

"I was dumb during the recruiting process," Kiel said. "I couldn't really make up my mind, but I was also doing what was best for me at that time, and that was picking a college. That much pressure and being so highly ranked, I couldn't make up my mind."

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