Touted QB Gunner Kiel commits to LSU

Two months after reopening his commitment, standout ESPNU 150 quarterback Gunner Kiel ended speculation on Tuesday with the decision to play football for LSU.

Kiel (Columbus, Ind./Columbus East), ranked second among quarterbacks and 20th nationally, settled on the Tigers after spending the last month deciding between them, Notre Dame and Vanderbilt. The Tigers were not a factor in his recruitment when he originally committed to Indiana in the summer but LSU made a big impression on Kiel since late October.

"When I went to Louisiana, it was just awesome," Kiel told the website MyIndianaFootball.com. "Friday I woke up and told my parents 'I'm ready to commit. I want to go to LSU and this is the best place for me.'"

The Tigers' quarterback situation opens up after this season when Jordan Jefferson and Jarrett Lee both graduate. Left on the roster are unproven backups Zach Mettenberger, a Georgia transfer, and Class of 2011 quarterbacks Jerrard Randall and Stephen Rivers.

Over the last month, Kiel made official visits to his three finalists and planned a decision last week and then again before Christmas Day. He unofficially visited LSU for its game against Arkansas in the regular-season finale and then officially visited Baton Rouge the following week.

Kiel is an early enrollee candidate, and LSU begins its spring semester on Jan. 17 with freshman orientation a week earlier.

"I got to know the guys really well -- they're a special group and really nice guys," Kiel said. "They came out of their way to introduce themselves and talk to me, which meant a lot. Baton Rouge is a special place. It was the perfect fit for me, and I can't wait to enroll and be a part of the team and university."

Indiana and its new coach Kevin Wilson planned on making the in-state quarterback the centerpiece of the rebuilding process in Bloomington and shockingly secured a commitment from the 6-foot-3, 215-pound prospect ranked tops in the Midwest.

Kiel committed during the summer but the relationship between the staff and family deteriorated and Kiel decommitted on Oct. 20. The day Kiel decommitted, his father, Kip, said Indiana's poor record was a factor but that also "a lot of things are concerning." He didn't elaborate on what the other factors were.

Kiel passed for 2,517 yards and 28 touchdowns with only four interceptions as a senior, and he added almost 500 yards and 11 touchdowns on the ground.

Kiel led Columbus East to the state semifinals and a 12-2 record. Among his numerous postseason accolades, Kiel was named the Gatorade State Player of the Year in Indiana.

Jared Shanker covers Midwest recruiting. He can be reached at jshankerespn@gmail.com.