Previewing the Buckeyes Game – Take 2 – Gunner Kiel Will Be Better Than Braxton Miller

Photo Credit: Kelly Wilkinson / The Star
Photo Credit: Kelly Wilkinson / The Star

Potential is overrated.  I suppose it always has been.  Even so, it’s very human to speculate on what could be, based largely upon past performance.

Accordingly, it is with some trepidation that I say the following:

…Based on potential and promise alone, I believe that Gunner Kiel will be the best quarterback to ever play at the University of Cincinnati.

…More still, I believe that Gunner Kiel may will end up being a better college quarterback than Braxton Miller.

As has been discussed, the University of Cincinnati plays tOSU Buckeyes on September 27th at 411 Woody Hayes Drive, Columbus, Ohio.  And Gunner Kiel will have his first opportunity to make good on his potential in front of the gathered masses inside Ohio Stadium.  Cincinnati opens up against Toledo and Miami (OH), before playing the Buckeyes.  As such, the Buckeyes’ defense will be the first talented defense Kiel will see.  And Kiel will be playing in front of 100,000+ rabid Buckeye fans, all desperately wanting the tOSU to stomp the Bearcats into oblivion. To preview the game, I thought it might be worthwhile to discuss the quarterback position.

A. 5-Star Recruit – Gunner Kiel

If you look at his raw high school numbers, you can see why the college football nation was so excited by Gunner Kiel’s prospects.  As far as athleticism is concerned, he runs a serviceable 4.7 second 40-yard-dash.  In his senior season of high school, he completed 127-of-240 passes for 2,517 yards, 28 touchdowns and four interceptions. In addition, Kiel rushed for 482 yards and 11 touchdowns that same year.  During his high school career, he completed a remarkable 412-of-678 passes for 7,348 yards, 89 touchdowns and 24 interceptions.

In light of his proven track record, he was listed as a Rivals 5-Star pro-style quarterback recruit.  Moreover, he was ranked #1 in his class of quarterbacks, a class that included last year’s Heisman Trophy winner – Jameis Winston.  Clearly, the potential is through the roof.

Kiel’s mechanics are textbook. He holds the ball up high and has a smooth, overhand delivery.  The ball typically comes out of his hand with good zip, and his hips routinely turn to his target as he throws. Kiel’s arm strength is very good. In high school, he demonstrated the ability to fit the ball into tight spaces.  So much so, that a lot of people compared him to Andy Dalton (now of Cincinnati Bengal acclaim), who had a great college career at TCU.

Coming out of high school, Kiel was also compared by scouts to Andrew Luck. Kiel has 4.7 speed, which is not lightning quick, but athletic enough.  Andrew Luck doesn’t have Cam Newton speed, but he’s not immobile like Peyton Manning, either. In high school, Kiel showed that he was mobile in the pocket, and could pick up 15-20 yards on a scramble when the team needed it.  Kiel is listed as the same size as Tim Tebow was in high school (6’3, 215). Tebow, by the way, was ranked 22nd overall in his 2006 recruiting class, while Kiel was ranked 18th.

The one knock on Kiel is his inability to pick a college.  As a fan of the University of Cincinnati, I don’t quite mind that (it worked out for us!) – Kiel ended up in Clifton after a rather circuitous recruiting experience.  So, while he may have been indecisive off the field, he has proven himself to be quite decisive on the field.

Courtesy of OSU Athletics Dept.
Courtesy of OSU Athletics Dept.

B. 4-Star Recruit – Braxton Miller

Few people know that Braxton Miller was actually recruited by Brian Kelly to play for UC.  After Miller’s high school freshman season (in which he completed 93-of-152 passes for 1,048 yards and 9 touchdowns), Kelly offered him a spot with the Bearcats.  Miller declined and eventually became a highly-recruited quarterback.

Unlike Kiel so far, Miller has proven himself to be worth all of the recruiting fuss.  In his 2011 campaign, Miller completed 85-of-157 passes for 1,159 yards.  During the 2012 season, he completed 148-of-254 passes for 2,039 yards.  In last year’s season, Miller completed 162-of-255 passes for 2,094 yards.  Oh, and he’s pretty good at making things happen with his feet.

Braxton Miller is a proven commodity, a seasoned leader. 

Last year, Miller nearly led the Buckeyes to the national championship game.  He likely enters this season as a Heisman Trophy frontrunner, and his game has been compared by many to Troy Smith.  I think everyone in the country would concede that Braxton Miller is a really good college quarterback. 

C. Even with All of That, I Still Believe Kiel Will Be Better Than Miller.  Much Better.

I’ve seen the Braxton Miller highlight tapes.  I’ve watched him turn trash plays into treasures.  I’ve seen him evade defensive lineman and throw the ball on a rope to a receiver 40 yards downfield.  I’ve seen his ceiling, and it’s really high.  But, Miller will only be a really good college quarterback. 

Kiel, on the other hand, has Peyton Manning potential.  If he makes good on his potential, he will be a legendary college quarterback and a Hall of Fame NFL quarterback.  Cincinnati has never seen a ceiling this high on one of its quarterbacks.  Go Bearcats.

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