Gunner Kiel’s physical tools will be analyzed over and over again as people attempt to project how the nation’s top prep quarterback will fit in at Notre Dame, but the 6-foot-4, 220-pounder’s former coach, Columbus East (Ind.) High School head coach Bob Gaddis, believes Kiel’s attitude will surprise many.
“I think the thing he’ll bring to the table is not only is he a very talented young man, but he’s got a great work ethic,” Gaddis said.
“The thing I know he’s excited about is that he wants to learn. He’s not going to come in and think he knows it all. He’s real excited to come in and learn and contribute to the team and do whatever he can. People are going to be really happy to find out he’s a tremendous worker, very dedicated and that he’s a real team player.”
But Gaddis also believes that Kiel, who enrolled at Notre Dame earlier this month, will also be a good fit athletically for Brian Kelly’s spread offense.
“I think he’ll fit in very well with it,” said Gaddis. “He comes from a spread program, that’s all he’s ever done. Some of the aspects are going to be the same. Obviously they recruited him because they think he fits. I think the transition as far as what they want him to do will be good. I think there’s obviously going to be a learning curve, but he’ll handle that well.”
Kiel shocked the college football world by ultimately selecting Notre Dame at the last minute after first committing to Indiana and LSU.
Gaddis wasn’t certain of all of the details that went in to Kiel’s ultimate decision, but knows the decision was Kiel’s in the end.
“When he reopened up the recruiting process, there were about five or six schools in there and Notre Dame was one of them,” said Gaddis. “That list trimmed down to three, maybe four schools and Notre Dame was in there. He never said anything negative about them through that whole process. I know he went back there again and try to evaluate it.
“How he ended up there, I think Gunner is probably the only who knows why he made that final decision. He would only make that decision if he thought it felt right. I’m sure he understood what other people would think, but he’s probably got enough character to make his judgment based on what he thinks.”
Gaddis isn’t as worried about how Kiel will handle all of the attention as much as the way outsiders will deal with it.
“I think he’ll deal with it fine,” said Gaddis. “I just hope everybody else deals with it.
“He’s really a very humble young man, he really is. He’s handled everything from the first offer that he got when he was a sophomore to his final senior season with us with really good humility and really understood the value of being a good teammate. He’ll handle the pressure real well.”
Kiel is the last person who wanted all of the attention he received, according to Gaddis.
“I hope they give him a chance,” he said. “It is unbelievable what these young men go through when they’re 16 and 17 years old, it’s hard to get it right. He just hopes he got it right.”
Still, Kiel knows there are plenty of pressures that come with being a quarterback at Notre Dame regardless of who you are.
“I don’t know if he understands it, but I think he expects the pressure,” Gaddis said. “I don’t know that anybody who hasn’t had that helmet on with the expectations of being the Notre Dame quarterback could probably comment on it. I know he should expect what comes with it and I know that he’ll look forward to trying to fulfill his potential.”