A day after Davonte Neal decided to head home to the University of Arizona, quarterback Gunner Kiel has decided to transfer to Cincinnati. ESPN’s Joe Schad reports that Kiel selected Brian Kelly’s former program after considering Ball State, Miami (Ohio), Kansas State and Mississippi.
Schad spoke to Kiel, who provided his rationale: “Cincinnati was the best fit for me because the relationship I have with [quarterbacks] Coach Hinshaw is like nothing else,” Kiel told Schad. “He is a great overall person and is someone I know I can get coached by. “The group of guys I’m going to be around is second to none. I love where they are heading and the future is bright.”
For those curious, Darin Hinshaw is a recent hire to the Bearcats staff, joining new coach Tommy Tuberville for the first time. Hinshaw was at Tennessee the past three seasons before Butch Jones took over for Derek Dooley, first spending time coaching both quarterbacks and wide receivers. He accepted the role of passing game coordinator at Cincinnati. The Bearcats offensive coordinator is Eddie Gran, a long time Tuberville lieutenant at Auburn, who is coordinating an offense for the first time in his 20+ years of coaching, after serving as a running backs and special teams coach the past decade at Auburn and Florida State.
The move to Cincinnati ends an interesting few weeks of hypothesizing about Kiel’s decision. In Cincinnati, he finds a program clearly a step above the MAC level, though not necessarily for long, with the implosion of the Big East. Still, with Tuberville at the helm and one of the conference’s most successful programs of late, Kiel has the opportunity to play at a high profile school, even if their lot in life is still to be determined.
Kiel also has the benefit of an opportunistic depth chart. With two senior quarterbacks on the Bearcats’ roster, Kiel will sit out and then step into a wide open race for playing time, in an offensive system that on paper seems to match the 6-foot-4 quarterback’s skillset.
To that point, the jury is still out on what exactly Cincinnati is getting. A five-star recruit who was among the top prospects in his signing class according to various recruiting services, opinions still vary on Kiel’s potential, with some coaches questioning his ability to reporters. Still, Kiel impressed the Irish coaching staff during his redshirt season, and had crafted out an opportunity for Kiel to compete with returning starter Everett Golson and No. 2 Tommy Rees, before he decided to depart. (It bears mentioning that the last time Cincinnati accepted the transfer of a Notre Dame quarterback, it didn’t work out too well for the Bearcats with Demetrius Jones.
A source on Cincinnati’s coaching staff confirmed Kiel’s decision to a reporter at the Cincinnati Enquirer.
“He called us and said he’s coming. He wants to get it started as soon as possible,” the source told the paper.