The saga that is Gunner Kiel has taken yet another twist — likely the final one — as Notre Dame gets set to open spring practice.
The erstwhile Irish quarterback was not listed on the team’s spring roster released Tuesday morning, another in a long line of signs that he’s not long for the South Bend program. At a preview press conference ahead of the opening of practice tomorrow, head coach Brian Kelly subsequently confirmed that Kiel “is no longer a part of the program.”
Kelly said a release from Kiel’s Notre Dame scholarship was finalized last Friday.
The confirmation from the team comes nearly two weeks after multiple media outlets had reported that Kiel intended to transfer from the Irish. Those reports followed a couple of months worth of speculation that Kiel was leaning toward moving on from the Irish, even as the player denied in the run-up to the BCS title game that he had even given transferring a thought.
The No. 1 quarterback in the Class of 2012, Kiel committed to Indiana in July of 2011 before decommitting three months later. In late December of that year, Kielcommitted to LSU… only to get cold feet two weeks before National Signing Day, reportedly in large part to pleas from mom to stay closer to their Indiana home.
On Jan. 17, Notre Dame announced that Kiel was a member of its Class of 2012 as an early enrollee.
Kiel, the nephew of former Irish QB Blair Kiel, participated in spring practice but was unable to beat out Everett Golson for the starting job. Kiel was the scout-team QB in 2012 while Golson led the Irish to a perfect 12-0 mark in the regular season and a spot in the BCS championship game.
After redshirting last season, Kelly said the door was open for Kiel to wrest the job away from Golson.
“We had created an opportunity for him to compete in the spring, so I was a little surprised from that standpoint,” Kelly said of the departure.
Along with Golson, 2011 starter/2012 closer Tommy Rees, Andrew Hendrix and Malik Zaire will be a part of the quarterback competition beginning in the spring. Hendrix was a four-star member of Rees’ class, while Zaire, also a Rivals.com four-star player rated as the No. 3 dual-threat quarterback in the country, is an early enrollee as part of this year’s Irish recruiting class who will participate this spring.