Earlier this month, a two-quarterback battle was shaping up at Missouri this fall between sophomore James Franklin and Tyler Gabbert, younger brother of Blaine, the Tigers' starting QB the last two years. That all changed in the last week with the surprise decision by the younger Gabbert to leave the program. For those Missouri Tiger fans who saw nothing good coming from redshirt freshman quarterback Tyler Gabbert's surprise decision a week or so ago to leave the team and the university to, as they say, "pursue other opportunities," there may yet be a silver lining to your gray cloud of despair.
According to the website PowerMizzou.com, the top-ranked quarterback recruit of the 2012 class, Gunner Kiel from Columbus, Ind., paid an unofficial visit to the Missouri campus earlier this week. Kiel is rated by both Rivals.com and Scout.com as the top high school quarterback in the country.
A week ago, Mizzou coach Gary Pinkel and his staff may not have been actively seeking a high-profile quarterback to bring in with the 2012 Tiger recruiting class. That's not to say that Missouri wouldn't always be interested in reeling in a top-rated quarterback to its football program. But with the young brother of Blaine, the ninth overall draft selection in the recent NFL Draft, expected to battle junior James Franklin as the team's starting quarterback this fall, the urgency wasn't as great.
Kiel reportedly has been on MU's recruiting radar for a couple of years, but the highly-touted QB has been on the radar of just about every other major program, as well. Among the teams believed to be high on Kiel's radar are Oklahoma, out of the Big 12, Alabama and Michigan. Whether the Tigers have a legitimate chance to land a quarterback as highly rated as Kiel is a subject for future discussion, but the notion that Kiel is believed to be interested enough to personally check out Missouri is definitely a positive sign. One thing we do know for certain is, the best of the best among the quarterback recruits won't be on the market long.
Missouri also has been looking at a young man named Maty Mauk from Kenton, Ohio, another high school quarterback candidate believed to have strong skills. Mauk has made two visits to Missouri and he has told people that MU is one of his favorites to this point. He also likes Cincinnati and Illinois, and Notre Dame is reported to have voiced interest in the Kenton, Ohio, high-school star.
The success brought to the Missouri program by its past two starting quarterbacks, Chase Daniel and Blaine Gabbert, has done much to elevate the Tigers' prospects and attractiveness in recruiting top talent at the quarterback position.
The younger Gabbert's departure from Columbia - and, incidentally, it's not yet known where he may be headed to continue his college career - left Mizzou with only two quarterbacks on scholarship on the active roster (Franklin and redshirt shophomore Ashton Glasser) and a third from the 2011 recruiting class, Corbin Berkstresser from Lee's Summit High School in Kansas City, who arrived on campus this past Monday.
Getting back to the central point of this piece, it's entirely conceivable - in fact likely, in my opinion - that Tyler Gabbert's decision to leave Missouri will result in a win-win outcome for both parties. How can you find fault in that?