The group of quarterbacks in the class of 2009, which featured the likes of Matt Barkley
, Garrett Gilbert
and Aaron Murray
, was impressive to say the least.
The 2010 and 2011 quarterback crops were less than stellar, a problem often attributed to the rise of the dual-threat signal-caller as well as the proliferation of the spread offense in high school.
Quarterbacks have made a strong return in the class of 2012, highlighted by Columbus East (Ind.)
standout Gunner Kiel
, the nation's top player at the position.
The 6-foot-4, 216-pound Kiel posted sterling numbers as a junior, completing 139 of 209 passes for 2,645 yards and 36 touchdowns, leading East to a 9-2 record and earning all-state honorable mention. He has an incredibly bright future, according to Tom Lemming.
"He seems to have everything," Lemming said. "He's got great size, has the arm and all the intangibles to become a great college quarterback."
Lemming also likes the foot speed of Kiel, who rushed for more than 700 yards last season. On film, Kiel demonstrates an excellent pocket presence and is clearly a pass-first quarterback. However, he uses his foot speed when the pocket collapses to gain valuable yards on the ground.
Throwing the ball, he uses his frame well to execute a quick release and deliver powerful throws. He lines up mostly in the shotgun, but should be able to transition behind center if he plays in a pro-style offense at the next level.
Schools that utilize both offensive systems are recruiting Kiel, who has a great pedigree. His brother Dusty is battling for the starting quarterback job at Indiana while his other sibling Drew plays the position at Illinois State.
Kiel's uncle, Blair, played quarterback at Notre Dame in the early 1980s before a short career in the NFL. The Fighting Irish are among Kiel's many suitors.
Kiel recently told MaxPreps that Oklahoma, Indiana, Missouri and Alabama were among the teams recruiting him most heavily. Oklahoma and Missouri boast pass-happy, spread offenses while Nick Saban and the Crimson Tide run a more traditional pro set offense. Alabama actually played host to Kiel yesterday, as he made his way to Tuscaloosa for an unofficial visit.
Seeing his brother get recruited has made Kiel a savvy veteran of the process already.
"My brothers paved the way for me," Kiel said. "Whenever they went to one days and junior days, I went with them. I couldn't be in a better position with those two showing me around."
With Kiel in the process of making visits and getting a feel for different programs, his recruitment appears to be rather wide open. Given his relationship with his brothers, don't be surprised to see Kiel land somewhere relatively close to home.
"My family is really close, and they (Dusty and Drew) have all played really close to home," he said.Check back tomorrow when we unveil the nation's top running back in the class of 2012 according to Tom Lemming. The 2012 Top 100 will be released on Wednesday, April 5.