Looking beyond Kiel

Gunner Kiel has officially ended his recruitment process, according to a release from Notre Dame.

UND.com, the official site of University of Notre Dame athletics, released a statement on Tuesday morning that included the names of three early-enrollees and one transfer student that joined the program for the spring semester.

Five-star quarterback Gunner Kiel, who committed to LSU on Dec. 27, was on the list, putting an end to speculation that ran rampant after Kiel failed to show up in Baton Rouge on Jan. 14, the day he was scheduled to move into his West Campus apartment with the Tigers' other four early-enrollees.

Included in the release was a statement from Kiel.

"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."

Moving on.

Minus Kiel, the LSU class sits at 19 commitments, with the maximum number of signees capped at 25.

On Jan. 5, Patterson four-star linebacker prospect Lorenzo  Phillips said “I am going to commit to LSU either before my visit on Jan. 20 or while I am there. It will definitely be this month.”

On Monday, former Redemptorist running back Jeremy Hill said he planned to meet with LSU administration and coaches this week to finalize his admittance into the university.

Hill said he plans to sign as part of the 2012 class, meaning that if Phillips and Hill follow through as planned, the Tigers would be up to 21 commitments.

With four potential spots remaining, the Tigers will likely press for a quarterback prospect, and two players to watch are Jameis Winston and Jeremy Liggins.

With Kiel out of the picture, Winston could give the Tigers a closer look, though Alabama, Florida State or the MLB Draft all appear to be more likely outcomes at this stage.

Liggins, 6-foot-4, 270-pound, dual-threat quarterback out of Oxford, Miss., could be the most likely option. The nation’s No. 19-ranked quarterback prospect is scheduled to make an official visit to Baton Rouge this weekend, and Liggins will round out his recruitment process with a trip to Alabama on Jan. 27. Liggins has offers from his top four schools of LSU, Alabama, Ole Miss and Mississippi State.

Phillips and Liggins aren’t the only big names slated to be in Baton Rouge this weekend.

Five-star prospect Mario Edwards, the nation’s No. 1-ranked defensive end, will also be in Baton Rouge on an official visit, a trip that comes in the wake of sophomore Michael Brockers, one of LSU’s top lineman, announcing that he will forgo his junior season and enter the NFL Draft.

Missouri City, Texas, standout and Texas A&M commitment Corey Thompson, a four-star prospect and the nation’s No. 15-ranked outside linebacker, is also scheduled to be on campus for his official visit.

LSU commitment Torshiro Davis, who took official visits to Texas and Nebraska, will end his string of campus trips with a stop in Baton Rouge, one of a number of commitments that will be in town and lend a hand to the staff as they recruit the uncommitted prospects in attendance.

Tracy Howard also plans to visit LSU in the final two weekends before National Signing Day on Feb. 1, though Howard, a five-star cornerback prospect out of Miramar, Fla., will be in Gainesville to visit Florida the weekend he’s not in Baton Rouge. On Jan. 8, Howard told Scout.com’s Chad Simmons that the Tigers and Gators are his two finalists.

Another name to watch is Hutchinston (Kansas) Junior College wide receiver Cordarrelle Patterson. The Tigers could get make a late play with the 6-foot-4, 202-pound, five-star prospect by landing a visit in the final two weekends.

On Sunday, following a trip to Ole Miss, Patterson told Scout.com’s Yancy Porter “I will probably go to LSU” when asked about his final official visit. Auburn, Georgia, Ole Miss and Tennessee received Patterson’s other official visits.

As for the drama of the day, the silver lining is that with Zach Mettenberger up to bat, Kiel would likely not have played until 2013 at the earliest. That means the staff has time to both look elsewhere and continue to develop freshmen Stephen Rivers and Jerrard Randall.

It should be noted that after being on the staff for less than a year, LSU quarterbacks coach Steve Kragthorpe was able to convince Kiel (at least for a time) to buck distance as a concern and commit to the Tigers.

There’s a good chance Kragthorpe will get the Tigers in the mix for another top quarterback prospect in 2013, especially with a better head start on the recruiting game – which can get stickiest when grabbing quarterbacks before all the dominos fall.

Point being, it doesn’t appear that the sky is falling in Baton Rouge (if fans didn’t pick up on that by the 13-1 record, SEC Championship and berth to the BCS National Championship – not to mention top-3 ranking the team is sure to start the season with next September).

Despite the roughest eight days a fan could image, all is well.

So with 16 days until National Signing Day, know the ride is almost over.

Then again, with three new scholarship offers for the 2013 class handed out by Miles over the weekend, also understand the rat race that is the recruiting game won’t slow down a bit.  

Tiger Blitz Top Stories