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July 29, 2011

Roundtable: Kiel decision reviewed

MORE ROUNDTABLES: July 8 | July 1 | June 24 | June 17

Rivals.com football recruiting analysts weigh in on topics in a roundtable format.

Did QB Gunner Kiel make the right decision by choosing Indiana as his future school earlier this week?

Mike Farrell: He made the right choice because it's where he wants to be. Quarterbacks can make the NFL from any program and he has a great teacher and motivator in Kevin Wilson. He may not be in BCS bowls and might miss out on some of that media attention, but that's not what he's about anyhow. He wants to be close to his family and help IU become more than a basketball school.

Chris Nee: Down the stretch I thought Kiel would opt for Indiana or Alabama. Is Indiana the right decision over Alabama as the two schools are today? No. During his career, that is to be determined. Kiel's commitment has the possibility of helping to create a new excitement around the Hoosiers' program and he could be a trendsetter for prospects buying into head coach Kevin Wilson and his staff. His decision isn't a bad one; it is just taken with a measurement of risk and shows his willingness to tread his own course.

Keith Niebuhr: I'm all about a player going where he is happiest. So while IU isn't exactly a football power, if that's where Gunner thinks he belongs, then I say, yes, he made the right decision. For anyone else to criticize him over this selection is ridiculous. It's his life. And life isn't all about football. If I were an athlete picking a school, I'd choose the one where I'd be most comfortable if athletics were taken away. Maybe that's what Gunner was thinking.

Brian Perroni: Different people pick colleges for all kinds of various reasons so it is hard to say a player made a bad choice. Indiana does not have the national prestige and history that Alabama and Oklahoma have, but the Hoosiers have a new head coach in Wilson, who had some prolific offenses at Oklahoma. I remember thinking that Andrew Luck would have a hard time winning many games when he chose Stanford out of high school but the Cardinal turned things around in a very short time. Indiana could do the same and I'm guessing Kiel is banking on that being the case.

How far will North Carolina get set back by the timing to fire coach Butch Davis this week?

Mike Farrell: It will set them back quite a bit. Losing a big name head coach such as Davis hurts recruiting and UNC will struggle to get another big name to take over with all the problems there now. I think the NCAA could hammer the Heels as well, which would set them back even further. UNC, another basketball school, looks as if it could remain that for quite some time.

Chris Nee: Depends on their season. If the Tar Heels struggle under Everett Withers and the staff as it will be for the season, I expect a lot of prospects to look elsewhere. If Withers and company put together eight wins or better, a lot of kids will likely stick it out and make their ultimate determination of whether or not to be a Tar Heel based on the next coach that is hired.

Keith Niebuhr: This has the potential to be a significant setback. While UNC never struck gold on the field under Davis, the program seemed to be building toward something. Say what you want about Davis on Saturdays, but the fact is he put a lot of guys in the NFL. And that has been a huge selling point in Chapel Hill. Davis gave UNC football an identity.

Brian Perroni: It certainly was a surprise to see Davis let go only a few days after the ACC Media Days wrapped. It will definitely hurt North Carolina in recruiting in the short term but this timing is better than a postseason change. When coaches are let go after the season it does not give the new staff much time at all to win recruits back prior to signing day. The Tar Heels will have a full season to convince prospects that playing for the school is not just about playing for the head coach.

There's been a lot of big commitments lately. What's another surprising one to you outside Kiel?

Mike Farrell: Justin Shanks to Florida State surprised me a bit. A couple of months ago he was all Alabama and recently he was thinking of staying in state to play at Auburn as well. The job coach Dameyune Craig did for FSU and continues to do is amazing. To go into Alabama and pull out a stud DT that both in-state powers wanted is impressive.

Chris Nee: Derrick Henry to Georgia at Dawg Night. There had been a lot of speculation in the weeks leading up to that decision that he would pledge to Florida during Friday Night Lights. His decision to join Mark Richt and company in Athens was unexpected by those following his recruitment and even his coaches, who deal with him on a daily basis. Henry had been favoring Florida since the staff change in Gainesville because of its preference for bigger backs and use of the pro-style offense.

Keith Niebuhr: I'll go with athlete Sheldon Dawson, who committed to the hometown school, Memphis, in a shocker. The state's 10th-rated player, Dawson chose the Tigers over numerous other offers (including Arkansas, Mississippi State, Ole Miss, Tennessee and Texas Tech). There's a lot of talent in Memphis, and Dawson thinks if other locals follow him they can turn around the Tigers.

Brian Perroni: Though SMU went into California last year and landed four-star defensive end Davon Moreland, it did not seem like it would become a regular occurrence for the Conference USA program. However, the Mustangs did it again this year by gaining the commitment of wide receiver Gabriel Marks, the No. 166 overall prospect in the country.

If you could watch August practices for any high school team in the country, who would it be?

Mike Farrell: I'd like to be at Don Bosco Prep in New Jersey every day. It has four US Army All-Americans in Darius Hamilton, Yuri Wright, Elijah Shumate and Leonte Carroo and a ton of top underclassmen. I hope to be there at least once in August.

Chris Nee: Seffner (Fla.) Armwood. That team is loaded with Division I talent on both sides of the ball and there are some incredible position battles such as defensive tackle Sheldon Lewinson versus offensive guard Cody Waldrop, defensive end/outside linebacker Eric Striker against offensive tackle Kevin McCoy and junior quarterback Darryl Richardson throwing against a secondary that includes underrated safety Jarvis McCall and super junior Leon McQuay III. There is a reason a lot of people think Armwood may be the top team in the Sunshine State.

Keith Niebuhr: For me, it's Stone Mountain (Ga.) Stephenson. This team has many players committed to FBS programs, but many wonder how all the pieces will fit together. Can the egos mesh? Will everyone be on the same page? Will all the skill players touch the ball enough to stay happy? Practice will be where this team does or doesn't develop the chemistry it needs to be a championship contender.

Brian Perroni: The state of New Jersey does not get much talk on the national scene but Ramsey (N.J.) Don Bosco Prep has as much talent as probably any school in the country. Led by five-star defensive end Darius Hamilton, the team has four prospects playing in January's U.S. Army All-American Bowl.



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