Brace yourself for the following bit of news: Gunner Kiel, one of the top recruits in the country and the No. 2 quarterback prospect in the Class of 2012 according to ESPN.com, has reportedly committed to Indiana over suitors like Alabama, Missouri, Oklahoma and Notre Dame.
And no, this is not April Fools' Day.
What a coup for first-year Hoosiers coach Kevin Wilson, who might have just secured the top recruit in IU football history. Of course, Wilson has an in with Kiel: he's from nearby Columbus, Ind., and his brother, Dusty, is a sophomore quarterback who's competing for the Indiana starting job this fall.
Still, location and family ties can only get you so far, especially when you're a program of IU's stature going up against some of the elite football schools in the country. No one would have been surprised to see Kiel bolt his home state to play in the SEC or another top-flight Big Ten team (or to Notre Dame, where his uncle, Blair, played quarterback). And since this is only a verbal commitment, schools are likely to continue recruiting Kiel all fall to see if they can change his mind.
But Kiel's pledge highlights the respect Wilson has earned as an offensive coach and tutor of quarterbacks, a reputation he earned through his work at Oklahoma and Northwestern. Skill players will want to play for him. And perhaps Kiel can help start a domino effect that will lead to other well-regarded prospects taking a look toward Bloomington. He can be a mindset-changing type of recruit.
One player won't lift the Hoosiers into the upper half of the Big Ten. The program has had prolific offenses before but has rarely fielded comparable defenses in recent seasons. Defense is still the area where Wilson and his staff will have to recruit and develop the most.
But this is unquestionably outstanding news for long-suffering Indiana fans.