We're getting into the time of year that many of the highest-regarded quarterback recruits announce their college choices. What follows is something of a frenzy, as other touted QBs scramble to try to secure their own spots, with teams' vacancies filling up fast. It's known in recruiting circles as "The Domino Effect" and, as I detailed in my book, things tend to get pretty hectic.
A handful of promising 2012 quarterback prospects have already committed -- among them Zach Kline to the California Golden Bears, Connor Brewer to the Texas Longhorns, Trevor Knight to the Texas A&M Aggies and Skyler Mornhinweg to the Stanford Cardinal -- but many big fish remain available. For this week's list, we're giving you a fully loaded top 5, featuring the top recruiting battles for 2012 quarterbacks:
1. Gunner Kiel, Columbus East High School (Indiana)
Kiel has a great first name for a QB. He also has a strong pedigree. His uncle, Blair Kiel, was a quarterback for Notre Dame and in the NFL, and his older brothers also are QBs -- Drew played at Illinois State and Dustin is with the Indiana Hoosiers. The younger Kiel's arm has wowed scouts.
Kiel's recruitment hasn't gotten crazy, but the 6-foot-4, 215-pounder joked that "it's getting there." Kiel said he is determined not to rush his thought process. "I want to make a decision whenever I'm ready," he said Tuesday night. "I'm trying to get to know these situations to find the perfect fit for me."
Kiel said he isn't one to surf around the web in hopes of getting a feel for what other QBs and colleges may be up to. "I don't really follow it," he said. "I'm just letting the cards play out and go with the flow."
Of course, it helps that he's probably on top of a bunch of schools' wish lists and may get the right of first refusal. Among the many programs in the mix are Notre Dame, Oklahoma, Alabama, Indiana, Michigan, Tennessee, Iowa, Wisconsin and Missouri.
There's been a lot of speculation that Kiel is leaning to Notre Dame (he said he rooted for the Irish growing up but added that he was always "a fairweather fan" and changed allegiances often depending on which team was hot). He said his next move is to fly to Oklahoma to check out the Sooners' program on Thursday.
Kiel figures to have an impact on other QBs in his class. According to the South Bend Tribune, one of them could be Maty Mauk, the younger brother of former Cincinnati Bearcats passer Ben Mauk, who played for Brian Kelly at UC. "I met with Maty Mauk recently and I definitely believe he's leaning to Notre Dame," Chicago-based recruiting analyst Tom Lemming said. "I think he would have committed to Notre Dame already had his mother not insisted on him visiting other schools.
"Gunner Kiel recently had a great visit to Notre Dame, enough so that I think at this early stage the Irish are either the favorites or even with the other favorites. If [the Irish] take Mauk early, they could lose Kiel."
It'll be interesting to see how that plays out.
For Bruce's full list, including the teams to beat for each of these QB prospects and news from around college football, become an ESPN Insider today.