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Notre Dame announces Carlisle, Day, Kiel and Shepard join Irish

Jan 17, 2012, 1:42 PM EDT

Gunner Kiel2

Any questions about quarterback Gunner Kiel choosing Notre Dame have been officially answered, as the university publicly announced the addition of four student-athletes to the program this afternoon. Kiel is joined by fellow early-enrollees Sheldon Day, a defensive tackle from Indianapolis and cornerback Tee Shepard of Sacramento, along with USC transfer running back Amir Carlisle. All four began classes today, the beginning of spring semester.

The announcement of Kiel joining Notre Dame ends a whirlwind 24 hours, with the internet ablaze with updates on the blue-chip quarterback. (Kiel has been trending nationally on Twitter since yesterday.) Since Douglas Farmer of The Observer broke the news in the school’s student newspaper, many have questioned why Kiel made the switch. He did his best to explain the process in a statement released by the school.

“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.”

Kiel will jump into a three-man battle for the starting quarterback job, challenging Tommy Rees, Andrew Hendrix, and Everett Golson during spring practice.

No stranger to recruiting headlines himself, Tee Shepard seems like a forgotten man after the past day of excitement. But make no mistake, Shepard is likely the most important defensive recruit on the Irish board, and the cornerback’s early enrollment will give him an opportunity to make up for a lost senior season thanks to California transfer rules. Long committed to the Irish with his cousin, star wide receiver Deontay Greenberry, Shepard considered USC in late December before coming back in the fold for the Irish.

“I’m really happy to part of the Notre Dame football family,” Shepard said in a statement. “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.”

Shepard will immediately battle for playing time with the secondary needing to replace both Gary Gray and Robert Blanton. His commitment also likely solidifies Greenberry’s, as the cousins have long talked about playing together in college.

Sliding into South Bend quietly is Sheldon Day, a highly-touted defensive lineman that in past seasons would’ve been the premiere recruit of the class. Coming from Indianapolis powerhouse Warren Central, Day was the Indianapolis Star’s Player of the Year and finished second to Kiel for Mr. Football in Indiana. At six-foot-two, 286-pounds, Day doesn’t have the prototypical size of guys like Louis Nix, Aaron Lynch and Stephon Tuitt, but he had offers from programs like Auburn, Florida, LSU and Michigan, and adds another intriguing piece of talent to the defensive line, even if he might not press for playing time immediately.

“I’m excited to get here and get started on my classwork and to start the conditioning program with Coach Longo,” Day said in a statement. “I really liked meeting the guys during my recruiting process and I’m excited to start workouts with them this winter.”

Finally, the Irish also welcome in running back Amir Carlisle after transferring from USC, giving the Irish their second transfer in as many seasons after finishing as runners-up in the recruiting battle (Jordan Prestwood came to Notre Dame after enrolling at Florida State). Carlisle was a Parade All-American out of high school and ran for 6.2 yards a carry for the Trojans last season on 19 carries and scored on a touchdown pass as well in a season cut short by injuries.

“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,” Carlisle said in a statement. “I know this will be a great fit for me and I can’t wait to get started.”

Carlisle’s transfer came out of the blue and was a surprise to the Trojan coaching staff, who had high hopes for the sophomore running back and had ushered out plenty of players from the roster this offseason as they get down to a mandated 75 roster spots thanks to their NCAA rules violation. The move was likely prompted by the move of Carlisle’s father Duane to Purdue, where he’s taken over the sports performance program. Carlisle will sit out the 2012 season and have three seasons of eligibility remaining.

  1. jerseyshorendfan1 - Jan 17, 2012 at 1:53 PM

    Any news on the Armstead brothers? Also, are we sure that Greenberry is a lock? Was he not contemplating early enrollment like Tee? Anyway great news all around.

    • borromini - Jan 17, 2012 at 3:03 PM

      Greenberry never planned on enrolling early. But Tee already on campus should mean that Deontay shows up in June.

    • dmacirish - Jan 17, 2012 at 5:41 PM

      kind of wondering the same thing about the Armstead brothers. After all of this I sort of feel greedy (notice the sort of) asking for more but I understood from the previous post that they were to be deciding last night and that they were enrolled at three schools. Is there a day when they need to be on campus?

  2. ndgiants11 - Jan 17, 2012 at 1:54 PM

    1. The thing I love about Brian Kelly and Co. is that they really don’t care what style of quarterback they put under – or behind – center. They don’t seem to care if they have a QB who runs for 200 yards a game and throws for 150 or a QB or throws for 400 yards a game and doesn’t run at all. Put simply, as long as the quarterback can move the chains successfully and limit turnovers, the coaching staff is willing to work with either style.

    2. In the long-run this is a huge commitment for this coaching staff. Every time I think about Brian Kelly’s first two years, I shake my head and wonder what this team would have looked like if it had stability at the quarterback position. With a vastly improved defense and a great running game for most of this year – probably until Gray went down – you’d have to wonder how many games this team could have won without all those red zone turnovers.

    3. Obviously Kiel’s commitment adds a completely new wrinkle to the QB competition and the battle for starter will most likely be the top story headed into spring practice for the second straight year. Despite having 4 quarterbacks on the depth chart, I really don’t see a clear-cut favorite and will not be surprised if we have to watch some more growing pains at the QB position throughout next year, as all of the candidates outside of Rees have little to no experience and an extremely daunting schedule up ahead.

    • dickasman - Jan 17, 2012 at 2:11 PM

      Guys I hate to say this but I see Kiel being redshirted UNLESS, Hendrix or Golson absolutely flounders out of control.

      • joeschu - Jan 17, 2012 at 2:45 PM

        I know this will get me in deeper with the “never give an inch” crowd, but I agree completely. Look at this year’s schedule. Let’s give him a year of conditioning, weights and tearing it up on the scout team before throwing him to the wolves. The only way you peel that red shirt off is if neither Hendrix nor EG can survive. Even then, you could go back to “low ceiling” for one more year before ripping the red shirt off of Kiel.

        All that said… Gunner did say “4 years” not 5 😉

      • bernhtp - Jan 17, 2012 at 3:04 PM

        A red shirts for a top five-star recruit is typically a misnomer since it is most often difficult to keep them for a full four years, let alone five. If Kiel is who we think/hope he is, no thought will be given to a fifth year and he will play this year if at/near the top of the depth chart.

      • joewyoming - Jan 17, 2012 at 4:46 PM

        Don’t “Hate to say this”… a healthy first-year redshirt is important for a young player’s development. Weis’s inability to use the redshirt was a big part of his downfall. Next year’ll be a little rough, barring Hendrix or Golson really come out and Wow… but the most important thing about Kiel is that he develop into a stud – not that he play next year.

      • nudeman - Jan 17, 2012 at 5:15 PM

        I don’t agree. I’d bet that he and Kelly had that conversation and while Kelly can’t guarantee him playing time, I’d bet he promised him every chance to win the starting job; and if he doesn’t win it, I still think BK plans to get him on the field.

        Barkley started his freshman year. Kiel is even more highly rated. Why can’t he be expected to play?

    • nudeman - Jan 17, 2012 at 5:12 PM

      I agree completely ndgiants

      I’m not a fan of “what if” stuff, as in “what if we had a solid QB?”. But there is no denying that this has been their achilles heel, much to the dissatisfaction of the TR defenders. On another site ( I wrote a guest piece on the near term future of ND. As in the next 2-3 years. I wrote it right after the Bowl loss and rumors of Shepard and Greenberry decommitting swirled. I was more than a tad annoyed, and found it very hard to be optimistic solely because of the QB position.

      Kiel coming to ND changes everything. EVERYTHING.

      Not only does it solidify the QB position, it raises the possibility that another great WR on the fence commits. Even if not, Greenberry will be a great add; might not immediately pick up all the slack of MF, but looking good. The future looks a hole lot brighter today than 48 hours ago.

      • dickasman - Jan 17, 2012 at 5:50 PM


        Let’s hope that Kelly uses his talents whatever that may be. Not sure if Kelly will force him to fake the run option on every play when everybody knows he ain’t runnin….Here’s to BK dropping the run option from the Kiel playbook…

      • cameronemclaughlin - Jan 17, 2012 at 7:26 PM

        Here’s to BK ignoring dickasman and using the read option as he sees fit. Kiel runs it pretty well in this video, and ran for 482 yards and 12 TDs his senior year.

      • cameronemclaughlin - Jan 17, 2012 at 7:27 PM

      • ndgiants11 - Jan 17, 2012 at 8:30 PM

        Let me first start by saying that I’m neither a Rees supporter, nor a Rees hater: for the most part I’m indifferent to each and every quarterback on this roster, and will trust that Brian Kelly will make the best decision on who should start. (After all, his football knowledge goes well beyond mine.)

        Having said that: my only complaint about TR is that for a lot of the season TR didn’t stand for Tommy Rees, but rather “Turnovers in the Red zone.” On November 4th, Matt Fortuna over at ESPN posted that through 8 games Notre Dame had five red zone turnovers, ranking them tied for last in the country. I couldn’t find any finalized numbers online that said how many turnovers Notre Dame had in the red zone this year, but I did some some math, and here’s what I came up with:

        According to, Notre Dame’s Red Zone Conversion rate was 77.08% this year – good enough to place them at 88th out of 120 FBS schools.

        Attempts: 48
        Scores: 37
        TDs: 32
        FGs: 5

        ESPN’s stat page for David Ruffer says he missed 2 FGs inside the red zone, and interestingly says Notre Dame’s 4th down conversion rate was 100% this year. (7 for 7)

        So assuming all these numbers are accurate, Notre Dame would have finished the year with 9 turnovers in the red zone. (Could have easily been 10 if Michael Floyd didn’t make such a ridiculous catch in the endzone against FSU.)

        Obviously these turnovers in the red zone weren’t always the result of Tommy making a poor decision – we don’t need to recount the two painful fumbles inside the five that were not his fault, though one them was a result of the quarterback playing at the time. Which brings me back to our original point: instability at the QB position seems to have been the “achilles heel” for Notre Dame throughout the past two seasons.

      • nudeman - Jan 17, 2012 at 8:58 PM


        “Obviously these turnovers in the red zone weren’t always the result of Tommy making a poor decision”

        Not “always”

        But “usually”

      • irishpubcrawl - Jan 21, 2012 at 3:49 AM

        by gunners soph yr he’s goin to be showing up to games wearing a tux and cleats, putting up 250 in the air and 50+ on the ground in a very balanced irish offense.

  3. kiopta1 - Jan 17, 2012 at 2:01 PM

    Great day and hope it continues. I feel that the qb race is between Hendrix and gholson…maybe Kiel if he is a fast study. Rees is a backup at best to me.

  4. twebb2 - Jan 17, 2012 at 2:17 PM


    Wow, as if you didn’t already have six months of articles that would just write themselves about this fall’s starting QB battle, now there’s even _more_ drama… :)

  5. runners00 - Jan 17, 2012 at 2:19 PM


    First, welcome to the fastest four years of your life (at least to this point in your life). Enjoy them — on the football field and off the football field. Learn as much as you can in all phases of your education. ND is a great school and something that we know you won’t take for granted.

    Second, great news to have Gunner Kiel. Your recruiting process has been a challenge but we welcome you to the program and look forward to seeing you improve and succeed under the Kelly system. It’s great that you’re in South Bend (as an aside it’s quite a surprise — in a good way — to have the nation’s top QB recruit at Notre Dame).

    It’s great news to read about Tee Shepherd. We know you’ll do well on the defensive side of the football and look forward to seeing you start in the near future.

    You can tell that things are moving in the right direction when a big guy like Sheldon Day arrives and he’s below the headline. We’re excited you’re here and look forward to seeing you get to the quarterback.

    Finally, we forgive Amir Carlisle for playing for Southern Cal. People make mistakes — just chalk it up to being 18. More seriously, enjoy Notre Dame. It’s a magical place where great things happen to good people like you. Take advantage of it!

    Let’s go Irish!

  6. twebb2 - Jan 17, 2012 at 2:19 PM

    There’s also a report that Nick Montana has been released from Washington and will attend a two year college. I wonder if he would have started this year at ND…

    • dickasman - Jan 17, 2012 at 2:21 PM

      From what I saw of him, I saw little bit, Montana did not impress me much but would def. welcome him w open arms.

    • dickasman - Jan 17, 2012 at 2:24 PM

      This should also be a huge lesson to these kids that pick schools for the opportunity to play football over the institution itself.

      Sure, I understand that they have the competitive spirit and they want playing time. No problem. You’re given the opportunity to battle for the starting job and you lose. So you transfer? If the kids really want to ensure their playing time, they should go to school with substandard football team so they can start right away. Oh wait, Washington is substandard, aren’t they?

      • dickasman - Jan 17, 2012 at 6:39 PM,0,3448791.story

        Guys, here’s a solid example of guy picking institution over his playing time. I can guarantee you that this does not happen at Alabama or LSU.

    • timmyboy12 - Jan 17, 2012 at 8:48 PM

      Are you thinking of NATE Montana, former Irish QB, or NICK Montana, former Huskies QB?

      • nudeman - Jan 17, 2012 at 8:56 PM

        He’s talking about Nick who’s at U Washington
        Article says he’s considering going to a JuCo in TX

        Nate was a backup at U Montana this year. Assume he’s still there.

    • 1historian - Jan 17, 2012 at 9:13 PM


  7. oldestguard - Jan 17, 2012 at 2:28 PM

    Ditto on your great post, Runners.

    Awesome start with 4 great recruits filling some needed positions.

    Will be a real treat watching Kiel develop and excell over the next 4 years.

    Kelly and company are the real deal on the recruiting front….dogged persistence and no quit.

    We got room for more….

  8. gtizzo - Jan 17, 2012 at 2:34 PM

    Keith have you slept yet? Have you at least had a nap or two? I was reading about this since late last night and an update in your previous article was real late. Go get some rest or at least try, with Irish recruiting the next big story could break at any second. Great article and nice job on the overall coverage!

  9. rcali - Jan 17, 2012 at 3:48 PM

    Sweet. We now have four unqualified guys to take the snap from center. 8-5 again. Nothing like a freshman QB in the mix.

    • nudeman - Jan 17, 2012 at 5:17 PM

      Better than 1 unqualified junior.

    • dickasman - Jan 17, 2012 at 5:52 PM

      LOL R Kelly…

    • jimbasil - Jan 17, 2012 at 6:53 PM

      …And that’s your analysis of the day? — Absolute flippin’ genius. There’s one or two in every bunch.

    • c4evr - Jan 18, 2012 at 6:42 PM

      4 unqualified guys?? Or is it that we have 4 guys who are each qualified to play a down in each series… I think that’s Kelly’s master plan. Start with Hendrix on first down who scrambles and gains 8 yds. Then go with Rees who throws a backwards pass which, after review, is determined to be a fumble and we lose 15 yds. Then Kelly brings in Golson after screaming obscenities at Rees all the way to the sideline. Golson throws the pass away under pressure opening the door for Kiel to come in and punt for us like his Uncle did.

  10. akirish - Jan 17, 2012 at 8:02 PM

    RCali? Wow. Your coach just ripped the top rated and most highly recruited QB from Les Miles and powerhouse LSU’s paws. He is being added to a QB competition in which the two players likely to end up 3 and 4 on the depth chart have 2 seasons in the system, one of whom has extensive game experience. What Kiel brings is well known, and Golson was one of the most prolific and productive QB’s ever at the HS level. A real fan of any major college program would be stoked to have those two studs. I’m pretty sure Stanford and SC fans weren’t down on Barkley and Luck because they were 18 y/o and couldn’t manage to magically arrive on campus as battle tested juniors. Would you rather ND not get Kiel? Get a grip and get on board.

  11. ndnphx - Jan 17, 2012 at 8:24 PM

    I don’t usually get excited about recruit hype unless and until I see them contributing on the field, but this Kiel thing sure feels like a game-changer already. Especially with ESPN running the news across the bottom of the screen across their networks all day. Just the fact that ND reached into the jaws of the SEC and pulled out another blue-chip should say something to those who don’t think we’re relevant anymore.

    I hope the staff closes this recruiting cycle strong and we are all popping champagne corks on signing day. After last year, and now this, I wouldn’t bet against it…

    • c4evr - Jan 18, 2012 at 6:48 PM

      With Kiel flipping around like a fish out of water, I’d hardly call it ‘reaching into the jaws of the SEC’ – more like the warmed over leftovers of the Big 10. Face it, it’s hard to get excited about a guy who, had the tables been turned, you same bloggers would have said he wasn’t a Notre Dame kind of player had he left at the last second. It’s hard to talk out of both sides of your mouth welcoming one last second defector while laying waste to another for jumping ship. My take is anybody that shows that much indecision and lack of focus is more likely to have a Mitch Mustain kind of career. Hope I’m wrong, though.

  12. leftcoastirishfan - Jan 17, 2012 at 8:28 PM

    Ah Keith, Tee is from Fresno. Shaq Thompson is from Sacramento. Is there some other insider info you’d like to share????

  13. bernhtp - Jan 17, 2012 at 9:24 PM

    Kiel, like Clausen in 2007, comes in as the country’s #1 QB. Gunner comes into a more competitive situation than Jimmy did – returning starter and two talented heirs – and Weiss gave the hook to Demetrius Jones as fast as Kelly to Crist. Gunner also comes onto a much, much better team.

    Prediction: I doubt that Gunner gets the start in Ireland – it will be Hendrix or Golson – but will likely work his way up the depth chart to #2 by the end of the year. I think he will be an injury or significant falter from the starting position by late season. As I said before, top five star recruits are rarely red shirted given than you usually only get them three years (e.g., Clausen) rather than four, let alone five. Kiel will be used if he is ready, but I doubt he will be ready at/near the start of the season. He will see the field in 2012 and may be the starter by the end.

  14. gtizzo - Jan 17, 2012 at 9:52 PM

    Ok I have been reading the posts and I have a few comments:

    !) The first two games of the 2011 schedule is where the season really derailed. Although the schedule in 2012 is difficult, it does start off a little easier. Navy is about as close to a “tune-up” game as you get at Notre Dame. Given it will be played in a different country…travel is going to be tough…but still a game that is in ND’s favor. The front seven defensively are solid, Navy not a pass happy team so the secondary shouldn’t be test to much. The second game is a home game against Purdue. This game will be more difficult, but consider the running game in the 2011 match up. The Irish were getting the corner on running plays with Jonas Grey, yes Grey is gone, but you can’ tell me some other back isn’t just as fast. The point of all this? Whom ever the QB is, BK should be able to work out some kinks before ND gets into the Michigan, Michigan State and the rest of the schedule.
    2) This is more a question then a comment. I have done a little homework and from what I can gather there are two versions of a spread offense. The first is the Michigan under Rich Rod, Florida under Meyer, an athlete at QB who is a dual threat. The second is seen in the Big 12, Programs like Texas Tech under Mike Leach, I think Mizzou ran it when Chase Daniel was there, OU when they had Bradford. The second is spread the field, but is more pass heavy then the first. It requires an accurate QB and backs to do more of the running. I didn’t watch much Cincy football under Brain Kelly, but doesn’t his version of the spread fit more with the Big 12 then Michigan under Rich Rod or Florida under Meyer?
    3) Gunner Kiel is Irish which is great! Rumors are that William Mahone is next in the cross hairs of Meyer at Ohio State. Mostly because Mahone is from Ohio, that needs to be the top concern. Starting QB can wait till after NSD.

  15. leftcoastirishfan - Jan 17, 2012 at 11:25 PM

    Gtizzo, good analysis
    I believe ND plays Navy and Purdue before the MU game. 8 quarters to get the DBs and the QBs adjusted to the speed change.
    Don’t worry about Mahoney he’s all Irish. Take that to the NSD

  16. ct111 - Jan 18, 2012 at 12:22 AM

    This just came in, Arik Armstread chose…

  17. bernhtp - Jan 18, 2012 at 11:44 AM

    The delay on Armstead may be a good thing. I hear that there are issues for Notre Dame to resolve and that the Armsteads would like to go to Notre Dame. I don’t know what the issues are, but I would guess they they would revolve around the elder and his medical problem along with academic transfer/graduation issues. The delay may be giving time to resolve these. If the destination were elsewhere, my guess is that an announcement would already have been made.

  18. larrynamesauthor - Jan 19, 2012 at 11:57 AM

    Gentlemen, a lot of greater posts on here. Good to be among such knowledgeable people.

    I am also optimistic about the future of the Irish with Brian Kelly at the wheel. However, our guys will never win a national championship under Coach Kelly until he either gets rid of Bob Diaco or Diaco changes his defensive scheme and his approach to defense. Please remember the old expression about defense winning championships. The cover 2 Diaco employs will get burned consistently by good passing teams who have the patience to take the short pass. And when he goes into the cover 3 like he did against Michigan in the 4th quarter, it gets even worse. Cover 2 and cover 3 are PREVENT defenses meant to prevent the big play from beating you. This is fine when you’re playing a totally inferior team like Maryland this past year or Western Michigan in 2010, but against USC or Stanford, they don’t work.

    We can have all the offense in the world, but without an attacking defense like LSU and Alabama or even Florida State have, no championships in South Bend.

    • nudeman - Jan 19, 2012 at 12:11 PM

      I don’t break down tape for a living; just watch games like a regular fan, so take this with a grain of salt.

      He seems to play COver 2/3 situationally, and at least in part because ND had mediocre cornerbacks. Hopefully that problem is going away.

      Diaco had two fatal mistakes this year, each of which cost them a game.
      The final drive against UM was inexcusable; as was the 2nd half against FSU.
      Coaches have lost their jobs for less..

      IMO, the results are mixed, with the positives slightly outweighing the negatives.

      I will say this though: He is one great recruiter.

  19. ihatemistate - Jan 23, 2012 at 5:50 PM

    I hope he likes getting screamed at and humiliated every Saturday.

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