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March 19, 2013Notre Dame's spring quarterback competition is officially down a man.
On Tuesday afternoon during his opening press conference before the start of spring practice tomorrow, Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly confirmed the departure of former five-star quarterback Gunner Kiel.
On March 7, Irish Illustrated reported that Kiel had decided to leave the program, informing Kelly of his plans to transfer.
There had been speculation that time away from Notre Dame during the University's spring break might trigger a reconsideration from Kiel. It appears that never happened.
"He is no longer part of the program," Kelly said. "We worked on his release last Friday in terms of compliance.
"I don't know that I'm surprised. We had kind of created an opportunity for him to compete in the spring. Maybe a little surprised from that standpoint."
Kiel's roster deletion doesn't change much for the Irish depth chart in the short term with Everett Golson entrenched as the starter after guiding the Irish to the BCS National Championship Game. If Kiel made a spring move it would have been on the back-up job. That remains the domain of Tommy Rees and Andrew Hendrix.
Four-star quarterback Malik Zaire enrolled with Notre Dame during the spring semester and will occupy the fourth slot, which is where Kiel practiced when he did the same a year ago.
Kiel's freshman season was predictably un-noteworthy after he finished fourth in the quarterback derby during fall camp. He never made a serious move on Golson or Rees and spent the fall split between the scout team and picking up bits from the varsity offense.
Kiel's role was so secondary that he even got bumped off the team plane during road games when the school wanted to send an extra administrator.
The upcoming transfer continues Kiel's tumultuous relationship with college football dating back to his recruitment. He committed to Indiana before his senior year at Columbus East High School, backed off that pledge in October, committed to LSU in December, then covertly enrolled at Notre Dame in January.
When Kiel picks his next landing spot it will mean he's been associated with four different college football programs over the last year-and-a-half.
During his senior year Kiel led Columbus East, to a 12-2 record. He passed for 2,517 yards and 28 touchdowns and rushed for 482 yards and 11 scores. The performance won him Mr. Football in the state of Indiana, edging out Irish defensive end Sheldon Day.
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