On November 10th I posted about #1 prep QB Gunner Kiel enrolling at Notre Dame come January. At the time I completely trusted my "source" and ran with the story because he had never let me down before and had no reason to BS me. Well not until this morning did it appear it would actually come to fruition as Kiel was committed to LSU and ready to attend classes in Baton Rouge starting today. Throw in some "never say die" relentless recruiting from Brian Kelly and his staff and now it is official: Gunner is Irish.
Here is the official press release from Notre Dame...
NOTRE DAME, Ind. - The University of Notre Dame football team added four players to its roster Tuesday, head coach Brian Kelly announced.
The Irish added one transfer student and three early-enrollee freshmen to the football squad.
Running back Amir Carlisle (Santa Clara, Calif./Kings Academy/USC) transferred to Notre Dame after attending the first semester of his freshman year at the University of Southern California.
Defensive lineman Sheldon Day (Indianapolis, Ind./Warren Central), quarterback Gunner Kiel (Columbus, Ind./Columbus East) and defensive back Tee Shepard (Fresno, Calif./Washington Union) graduated from their respective high schools last December.
The four players signed their scholarship forms and were enrolled at the University Tuesday, the first day of the 2012 spring semester at Notre Dame.
Carlisle played in eight games for the Trojans in 2011. He totaled 19 rushes for 118 yards (6.2 yards per carry) and posted seven receptions for 41 yards with one touchdown. His best game for USC came at Colorado when Carlisle led the Trojans with 90 yards on 10 carries and caught two passes for 31 yards, including a 19-yard TD reception.
As a senior at Kings Academy, Carlisle was named a 2010 high school All-American by Parade and SuperPrep after gaining 2,110 rushing yards (averaged 10.0 yards per carry) and 28 TDs. He also caught 12 passes for 231 yards (19.3 average) with three TDs. In his high school career, Carlisle rushed for 5,108 yards (11.0 yards per carry) with 73 rushing TDs and posted 26 career 100-yard rushing games in 28 high school games.
"I'm really excited to be here at Notre Dame. I had great respect for the school and football program when I went through the recruiting process a year ago and I'm proud to be enrolled here. I know this will be a great fit for me and I can't wait to get started."
Day was a second-team selection on the SI.com High School All-America team. The Indianapolis Star Super Team Player of the Year for 2011 was also runner-up for 2011 Indiana Mr. Football award chosen by Indiana Football Coaches Association. Day made 55 tackles including 12 for loss, nine sacks, 12 quarterback pressures and recovered two fumbles as a senior. He helped Warren Central to 11-1 record in 2011, with the only loss occurring in the sectional final to eventual Indiana 5A champion Carmel.
"I'm excited to get here and get started on my classwork and to start the conditioning program with Coach (Paul) Longo," Day said. "I really liked meeting the guys during my recruiting process and I'm excited to start workouts with them this winter."
Many internet scouting services rated Kiel the top quarterback recruit in the nation this year. The 2011 Indiana Mr. Football passed for 2,517 yards and 28 TDs as a senior and rushed for 482 yards and 11 TDs. He helped lead Columbus East High School to the Indiana state 4A semifinals as a senior and was named the Gatorade Indiana Player of the Year. Kiel passed for 7,175 yards in his high school career.
"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. "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 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. I couldn't be happier to be a member of the Fighting Irish football team. I'm excited about the future of the program."
Shepard was rated the third-best cornerback in his class by Scout.com and the number-36 player nationally by MaxPreps and Tom Lemming. Shepard was forced to sit out his senior season after transferring from Central East High School in Fresno. He made 10 interceptions in his high school career and played in the Semper Fidelis All-American Bowl in Phoenix.
"I'm really happy to part of the Notre Dame football family," Shepard said. "This is a special place and I'm excited to finally be here. Getting a jump start on my training and in my classes can only help me for the future."
Obviously this is huge recruiting coup for Notre Dame. Kiel will get the chance to compete with Tommy Rees, Andrew Hendrix and Everett Golson in the spring for the #1 starter job (Golson should win the job from what I'm hearing) in what was clearly Notre Dame's biggest deficiency by position in 2011. Notre Dame led the nation in turnovers last year due to poor QB play especially in the red zone.
Getting a transfer from arch rival USC is also unheard of. RB Amir Carlisle will have to sit a year in 2012 due to NCAA transfer rules but will have 3 years of eligibility left in Notre Dame starting in 2013. With Cierre Wood the only proven tailback on scholarship stealing a Carlisle away from the Trojans is huge. It not only helps the Irish but it obviously hurts the Trojans who were very high on Carlisle and his running abilities.
Sheldon Day and Tee Shepard are both elite defensive players. Day will get a year to work with Longo in the weight room and is not really expected to contribute in 2012 with the amount of depth and talent Notre Dame has on the defensive line. Shepard on the other hand will get the chance to start right away. In fact he might be the most important recruit in this class. With Robert Blanton and Gary Gray both leaving for the NFL Shepard will have the opportunity to compete with Bennett Jackson and Lo Wood for a starting cornerback position. USC has been trying for months to keep Shepard in-state and he is the type of athlete that Notre Dame usually loses battles with especially when the Trojans want a guy in their own backyard.
Now Kelly will wait to hear if the Armstead brothers, Arik and Armond, will also be enrolling early. It appears to be down to an Auburn vs ND for their services. Armond is a transfer from USC who as a two year starter for the Trojans on their defensive line could not play last year due to some mysterious medical issue that their doctors would not grant him permission to play. He is eligible to play right away since he already graduated and has one year left of college eligibility left. Arik, a high school early graduate, appeared to be set on early enrolling at Cal until yesterday when defensive line coach Tosh Lupoi suddenly left to take a pay raise at Washington. By Thursday we should find out if the Armstead brothers will be joining Gunner at Notre Dame or playing in the SEC at Auburn.