was destined to be a football player – specifically a quarterback.
After all, his uncle, Blair Kiel, was an outstanding quarterback in high school and at the University of Notre Dame. His father, Kip, succeeded Blair as a prep quarterback. His older brothers, Drew and Dusty, both preceded him as quarterbacks. All of them played at
Columbus East (Ind.)
However, Gunner has surpassed all of his family members this year by being ranked as the No. 1 quarterback and No. 2 overall player in the country
by MaxPreps/CBS recruiting analyst Tom Lemming.
"It's definitely very special to me," he told MaxPreps.
"Gunner has been around (football) forever," East coach Bob Gaddis said. "He'd go to the 7-on-7 tournaments, all those things in the summer. He was learning how to be a quarterback for a long time. He learned from his older brothers and by watching. We put the (current) spread offense in for Drew.
"I'm not going to go on record and say who is the best of the bunch. They all were All-State and led us to conference championships. Gunner obviously is a great player and does a very good job. Did we know he was going to be very good at a young age? Yes. The ball always came out of his hand with a lot of zip and he probably was going to end up being the tallest."
Gunner believes he began developing his great arm strength as early as age 4.
"I was a little, crazy kid," he said. "We played games in our basement. We called it ‘Chucky.' I would throw dodge balls and little balls. I'd come up firing at my brothers. I always looked at my brothers and did what they did."
He credits his father with helping him develop his leadership qualities.
When Gunner reached East High, he inherited the same practice pants worn by both of his older brothers.
"They're just really comfortable and we all are the same size," he pointed out.
Standing 6-foot-4 and weighing a solid 215 pounds, Gunner lived up to his billing as a sophomore by passing for 2,500 yards and 25 touchdowns. He was even better as a junior, completing 161 of 238 passes for 2,742 yards and 36 touchdowns. He also ran for 621 yards and another seven touchdowns.
Despite breaking in three new wide receivers and four new offensive linemen this year, he has guided the Olympians to four wins in their first five games.
His biggest game was 402 yards and two passing touchdowns in the Olympians' only loss, 45-40 to North (Columbus, Ind.) before a national television audience.
Gunner insists his high ranking does not present extra pressure.
"There's going to be pressure wherever you play. I'm pretty level headed," he said. "I expect a lot from my players. I just want to win as many games as I can and, hopefully, make the playoffs."
Next fall Gunner will head for nearby Indiana University, a summer choice that surprised many recruiters.
"We had calls from all over America," Gaddis noted. "They came through and made contact with us. The family was very diligent. They went to those universities and paid for any visits. He made a very informed decision.
"I wasn't surprised. Indiana always was in the hunt. A lot has to do with his brother (Dusty) being there. Their facilities are nice and they have a new staff."Watch more videos of Columbus East football