Gunner Kiel will start for the Cincinnati Bearcats when they face East Carolina on Saturday.
According to sources close to the program, Cincinnati quarterback Gunner Kiel will earn his first start of 2016 this Saturday night, when the Bearcats host East Carolina.
From the moment Gunner Kiel was recruited out of Columbus East (Ind.) High School, he’s been a lightning rod for attention. After originally verbally committing to Indiana and LSU, Kiel eventually signed with Notre Dame in 2012, but would never play a down for the Irish. He’d go on to transfer to Cincinnati, looking for a second chance to showcase his passing skills.
Kiel was a two-year starter for Tommy Tuberville, throwing 50 touchdown passes in 2014 and 2015 combined. But he wasn’t the same player after being viciously knocked unconscious last Sept. 24 by Memphis defensive back Chauncey Lanier. While Kiel returned to the field a month later, something was missing, and he’d end up skipping the Hawaii Bowl for personal reasons.
Kiel’s winding journey will add another chapter in Week 8. After attempting just 11 throws and spending the bulk of his senior season buried on the depth chart behind underclassmen Hayden Moore and Ross Trail, Kiel is once again getting a chance to rebound.
Cincinnati has dropped two straight games and three of the last four, saddled with a floundering offense that’s thrown more picks than touchdown passes. The Bearcats are pining for a spark that helps change the course of the season before it’s too late. Enter Kiel, who has the arm talent and experience to maximize the playmaking ability of receivers Devin Gray, Nate Cole and Kahlil Lewis.
The clock is ticking on a career that began with so much pomp and hype almost five years ago. Kiel has battled his way back, on and off the field, and he’s getting one more shot to lead the offense and rekindle interest within the NFL scouting community.