If you’ve known me for any amount of time you know I’ve been a huge fan of Gunner Kiel since the day he arrived in Clifton. His efforts of the field made some of the Tuberville years not only barrable but down right exciting. It’s hard to believe its already been 7 years since he wore the red and black so it’s high time we take look on his impact on the program and some of the most memorable moments from #11.
The 6’4″ 215 lb QB hails from Columbus, IN where he played for Columbus East High School. Gunner Kiel was a two year starter for the Olympians. His list of accomplishments and recognitions is quite ridiculous. He threw for 4,831 yards and 61 TDs. His senior year alone he threw for 2,517 yards and 28 touchdowns, while also rushing for 482 yards and 11 TDs. He led East HS to 12-2 record and Indiana Class 4A state semifinals in 2011.
As a recruit he was:
– rated 24th on 247Sports list of top national prospects
– listed the top QB in the country and number-one player in Indiana by 247Sports
– rated number-two player nationally and top-ranked quarterback by MaxPreps and Tom Lemming
– rated 20th on Rivals.com Rivals250 list
– #1 QB in the nation and top player from Indiana by Rivals.com
– ranked the top QB in the nation and 38th-best prospect in the country by Scout.com
– #52 player nationally on 2012 ESPNU 150 list
– ESPNU #3 best QB in the country, second-best player in the Midwest and top player in Indiana
– listed 10th player nationally on SuperPrep Elite 50 team
– rated #1 quarterback nationally and SuperPrep Midwest Offensive Player of the Year
– named top player in Indiana on Detroit Free-Press Best of the Midwest team
– 2011 Indiana Mr. Football Award
– Gatorade Indiana Player of the Year for 2011
– Indiana Football Coaches Association Top 50 all-state team for 2011, as one of three quarterbacks selected
That’s not even the complete list. Needless to say the guy had the hype. After some indecisiveness on his commitment, he landed at Notre Dame. Kiel would transfer to UC in the spring of 2013 after he spent the 2012 season redshirted as a true freshman for the Irish.
Gunner Kiel burst onto the scene as the starter when he torched Toledo in his first appearance as a Bearcat. That day he threw for 418 yards and 6 touchdowns. The Bearcats would take the W 58-34 and Kiel would cement himself into the record books. In his collegiate debut against Toledo he completed 25 of 37 passes for 418 yards and six touchdowns, hitting nine different receivers. In the process he set an American Athletic Conference record and tied a UC record with his six TD passes. Kiel also surpassed the most passing touchdowns (six) for a quarterback in his NCAA FBS debut, surpassing the previous mark held by Florida’s John Reaves, who threw five against Houston on Sept. 20, 1969.
That game set the tone for what was to come in the 2014 season. He and the Bearcats dominated Miami (OH) the next week, Kiel throwing 271 yards and 4 TDs. That set up a highly anticipated matchup between the Bearcats and the Buckeyes in Columbus.
The Bearcats would lose to the Buckeyes, 50-28, but that didn’t stop Gunner Kiel and WR Chris Moore from having a day. Kiel would finish the day with 352 yards and 4 TDs. Again, the game put him in the record books as the first player in UC’s 127-season history to throw for 4 or more TDs in three straight games. Here’s Dan Hoard on the call:
After sustaining a rib injury in the Ohio State game Kiel would battle back and post an impressive game later in the season against ECU. On a blistering cold night at Paul Brown Stadium, a 47-yard last second field goal by Andrew Gantz would give the Bearcats the win behind a 436 yards passing and 4 TDs performance by Kiel.
The UC Bearcats would end the regular season on a 7 game winning streak before capping off a 9-4 (7-1) season with a 33-17 loss to Virginia Tech in the Military Bowl.
That 2014 season was special. Kiel finished 233 of 390 for 3,254 yards, 31 TDs and 13 interceptions. He tied UC’s single-season record for passing TDs with Ben Mauk (2007/31) and was just the fifth UC quarterback all time to throw for 3,000 or more yards in a single season.
The 2015 season kicked off with a 233 yard, 2 TD performance against Alabama A&M but a dirty hit from a Miami Redhawks player in the battle for the Victory Bell a week later knocked Kiel out of the game and left him with lingering issues that were made worse after a dirty hit from a Memphis player the very next week.
He returned to beat UConn 37-13 behind a 26 of 35 passes for 327 yards and 2 TD performance. His game of the season though could arguably have been his 15-15 319-yard game against UCF. That 15-15 performance was the most completions without an incompletion by any FBS quarterback in the last 20 years. He again came to play against #18 Houston where he threw for 4 TD passes and an impressive career best 523 yards in the 33-30 loss. The Bearcats would finish the season 7-6 (4-4) with a Hawaii Bowl loss to San Diego State 42-7.
With his lingering injuries Kiel’s senior year failed to meet expectations. After some genius football decision making by HC Tommy Tuberville (huge eyeroll) Kiel landed 3rd down the depth chart for the 2016 season. The season was a disappointment in all regards as the team went 4-8. Kiel only saw action in 5 games that season, the highlight being a 31-19 victory against ECU where he put up 348 passing yards and 4 TDs.
Kiel ended his Bearcats career with 6,835 passing yards, 56 passing TDs, and 3 rushing TDs. He completed 505-833 passes for a 61% CMP% and a career QB rating of 140.
Gunner Kiel made the Bearcats better and fun to watch during his time in the red and black. Like many Bearcats faithful I wish his career would have ended on more of an upswing but it was fun while it lasted.
Cheers to #11 Gunner Kiel!