It was a valiant effort, but James Franklin and Vanderbilt ultimately failed in their quest to add the highest profile recruit the school has ever seen. Indiana five-star quarterback Gunner Kiel chose LSU today over finalists Vandy and Notre Dame.
Kiel should have the chance to make an immediate impact at LSU, where the team's quarterback situation is unsettled. Part-time starter Jordan Jefferson will be graduating in 2012 and next year's starting spot is up for grabs. The highly-touted freshman would have had a path of stronger resistance in Nashville, where Jordan Rodgers emerged as Vanderbilt's best quarterback since Jay Cutler. Rodgers will be a senior in 2012.
Rodgers isn't the only accomplished athlete that will be earning snaps behind center next season. Austyn Carta-Samuels, the Mountain West Conference's Freshman of the Year in 2009, will be eligible for the Commodores after transferring from Wyoming. Redshirt freshman Josh Grady, a touted recruit in his own right, will also compete for playing time.
It's a tough loss for Vanderbilt, but it's hard to be too disappointed in the outcome. While Kiel won't be coming to Nashville, three Sports Illustrated All-Americans will make up the greatest recruiting class in Commodore history. The fact that Vandy earned consideration amongst traditional powers like LSU and Notre Dame is an amazing story in its own right. Franklin and his crew have put in a monumental amount of work in their year on Natchez Trace. Their impact has been immediate. Though they'll miss out on adding the team's first ever five-star recruit in 2011, odds are pretty good that Gunner Kiel won't be the last elite prospect to consider playing at Dudley Field.