For the past few months, it looked like Notre Dame would not sign a quarterback in its 2012 recruiting class.
Gunner Kiel arrives with the usual fanfare that accompanies a Notre Dame quarterback recruit.
Then, at the 11th hour and 59th minute last week, when Indiana native Gunner Kiel was all but packed as an early enrollee at LSU, he pulled the ultimate audible and enrolled at Notre Dame instead.
In 1980 his uncle, Blair Kiel, was one of three quarterback recruits to enroll at Notre Dame. Thirty-one years later, nephew Gunner became the 50th Irish quarterback recruit since that time. Here is a look at what has transpired with those previous 49:
2 Seasons since 1980 that Notre Dame didn’t sign a high school quarterback to a scholarship. That happened in 2001 and 2009. The Irish didn’t sign one in 2001 after inking four in 2000 (Jared Clark, Abram Elam, Carlyle Holiday and Matt LoVecchio), and none in 2009 after landing five-star prospects in both 2007 (Jimmy Clausen) and 2008 (Dayne Crist).
3 Who also ended up playing baseball, including Pat Pesavento (1984), Paul Failla (1991) and Evan Sharpley (2005). Upon arriving at Notre Dame in 1986 and discovering six scholarship QBs on his spring roster, head coach Lou Holtz was asked if any can play another position. “I think one can play shortstop,” Holtz deadpanned. Pesavento went on to become a star Irish infielder.
5 Parade All-Americans selected this year at quarterback, with Kiel surprisingly not one of them. Back in his senior year of high school in 1979, uncle Blair Kiel was No. 3 on the Parade list while fellow incoming Notre Dame quarterback recruit Scott Grooms was No. 1. In between was Michigan QB recruit Steve Smith.
6 Irish QBs since 1980 — including Kiel this year — were either ranked as No. 1 nationally as a pocket passer by at least one service or won a national player of the year award: They included Scott Grooms (No. 1 QB by Parade in 1980), Kent Graham (Atlanta Touchdown Club in 1986), Rick Mirer (USA Today first team in 1988) and Ron Powlus and Jimmy Clausen, who were national players of the year in 1992 and 2006, respectively.
7 Of the 49 QB recruits from 1980 actually (about 15 percent) ended up starting in an NFL game, which goes to show just how difficult it is to reach the next level even if you are a typically heralded Notre Dame quarterback. One of the seven included Ken Karcher (1981), who transferred to Tulane in 1983 — and his starts were on a replacement team for the Denver Broncos during the 1987 NFL strike.
The only three Notre Dame quarterback recruits since 1990 to play in NFL regular season games as QBs are Jarious Jackson (five as a backup), Brady Quinn and Jimmy Clausen.
8 Notre Dame quarterbacks who recorded at least one start as true freshmen since freshman eligibility was permitted by the NCAA in 1972: Kiel (9 in 1980), Steve Beuerlein (8 in 1983), Kent Graham (1 in 1987), Failla (1 in 1991), Matt LoVecchio (8 in 2000), Quinn (9 in 2003), Clausen (9 in 2007) and Tommy Rees (4 in 2010).
13 Switched position among the 49. The most popular position switch for Irish quarterbacks during that time has been wide receiver, including Steve Belles (1985), Bobby Carpenter (1987, and he would transfer to Syracuse), Arnaz Battle (1998), Carlyle Holiday (2000) and most recently Luke Massa (2010).
21 Transfers among the 49. This includes, most recently, Dayne Crist (Kansas), even though he did earn his Notre Dame degree in December. In other words, about two of every five QB recruits, or 40 percent, end up leaving the school.
24 Of the 49 started a game at quarterback for Notre Dame. This includes two-game starter Gary Godsey in 2000. Godsey was originally recruited to play tight end for the Irish in 1999, but when top quarterback target C.J. Leak left Notre Dame at the altar on signing day that year, Godsey was a temporary stop-gap measure the next season after an injury to starter Arnaz Battle.
1,831 Yards passing by Quinn in 2003, the most by an Irish freshman quarterback in one season. Also in the freshman 1,000-yard club were Clausen (1,254), LoVecchio (1,118), Rees (1,106) and Beuerlein (1,061).