Feb. 1, 2012
NOTRE DAME, Ind. (AP) – Quarterback Gunner Kiel topped Notre Dame’s 2012 recruiting class of 16 freshmen announced Wednesday along with a high-profile transfer – running back Amir Carlisle, who left USC after a single season to join the Irish.
Kiel, from Columbus, Ind., initially committed to Indiana, then to LSU and changed his mind again and decided to go to Notre Dame. He is already enrolled in classes and will compete with Tommy Rees, Andrew Hendrix and Everett Golson to run coach Brian Kelly’s spread offense.
Kiel’s change of heart – not once but twice – landed him where he felt best as a student and a player, Kelly said.
“He was very comfortable within the realm of our offense, in being confident that he could come in and run our offense,” Kelly said. “I carry the expectations that he made a decision to come to Notre Dame because he feels comfortable in the system that we run here.”
Defensive Back Tee Shepard
Kelly said he expects all the incoming freshmen to be ready to go, because he’s not recruiting players to take a redshirt season. That will hold especially true for early enrollees like Kiel, defensive lineman Sheldon Day from Indianapolis and defensive back Tee Shepard of Fresno, Calif. Carlisle is also already taking classes.
“We clearly tell our freshmen, ‘You better be ready to compete,'” Kelly said. “So I don’t think we set the bar any different for Gunner Kiel than we do for any of our other freshmen as it relates to coming in and competing, or I don’t want you here.”
The highly-regarded Kiel, whose uncle, Blair Kiel, started 29 games for the Irish from 1980-83, is the marquee catch of this class. One of Notre Dame’s problems during a second straight 8-5 season last year was the number of turnovers at quarterback.
Kiel passed for 2,517 yards and 27 TDs and ran for almost 500 more with 11 TDs in leading Columbus East High to a 12-2 record and the state semifinals.
Defensive Back Elijah Shumate
The secondary will lose safety Harrison Smith and cornerbacks Gary Gray and Robert Blanton, so the Irish signed five defensive backs headed by the highly-regarded Shepard. Also signed were Nick Baratti of Tomball, Texas, C.J. Prosise of Petersburg, Va., Elijah Shumate of East Orange, N.J., and John Turner of Indianapolis.
Besides Day, the Irish also got 6-6, 298-pound Jarron Jones from Rochester, N.Y., on the defensive front and linebacker Romeo Okwara from Charlotte., N.C. Offensive linemen Mark Harrell, also from Charlotte, and Ronnie Stanley of Las Vegas were also signed.
Running Back Amir Carlisle
The Irish will have running back Cierre Wood back next season, along with Theo Riddick and sophomore George Atkinson III. Still, they signed Will Mahone of Austintown, Ohio, and KeiVarae Russell of Everett, Wash.
Carlisle will have to sit out a season. As a freshman at USC, he battled ankle and knee injuries and carried 19 times for 118 yards.
Notre Dame also used a scholarship for a special teams player – long snapper Scott Daly of Downers Grove, Ill.
Kelly said recruiting has changed greatly because of social media.
“There are so many different outlets, social media is one of them. Just that kind of flow of information makes it a little more difficult in the recruiting process, but you have to be prepared for that,” Kelly said.