A day after a horrifying hit sent Gunner Kiel to the hospital, it was unclear Friday whether the University of Cincinnati quarterback would be cleared to play in next Thursday’s nationally televised game against the visiting Miami (Florida) Hurricanes.
The Cincinnati Sports Information Department issued a statement indicating that Kiel’s X-rays were negative, he remains under evaluation by the University of Cincinnati medical staff and his status for next week’s game is undetermined.
Kiel, who was the nation’s top-recruited quarterback his fall 2011 senior season at Columbus East High School, was going into a slide at the end of a third-down run in the first quarter against Memphis on Thursday when cornerback Chauncey Lanier hit the quarterback hard with his shoulder on the way down, with Kiel’s helmet then appearing to bounce hard of the playing surface. After Kiel fell motionless on the turf, he was carted off the field and transported to Methodist University Hospital in Memphis.
Members of his family accompanied him to the hospital, including his older brother, Drew.
“He is doing fine,” said Drew Kiel, who noted that Gunner — a 6-4, 215-pound junior — was released from the hospital Thursday night and flew back to Cincinnati with his team. “He cleared all the X-rays, a CAT scan and an MRI.
“I think the hit just scared him more than anything. The impact from the turf caused a whiplash effect, and his whole body went numb for a second. You could see that when he tried to get up, his arm went limp.”
Gunner Kiel has been knocked out of Cincinnati’s past two games on questionable hits.
Against Miami of Ohio, he was hit late by Bryson Albright, who was penalized for roughing the quarterback. Cincinnati coach Tommy Tuberville said his quarterback injured his neck on the hit but did not sustain a concussion.
Then on Thursday, Lanier initially was thrown out of the game for targeting, but the ruling was overturned by officials in the replay booth, who said Lanier made contact with his shoulder, not his helmet.
Megan Morgan, an associate commissioner of communications for the American Athletic Conference, said the play would not be further reviewed.
“In these situations, the replay officials are the final arbiter,” Morgan said. “There is no appeal process.”
Drew Kiel said he is not sure whether Cincinnati will clear his brother to play against Miami, but he noted, “His spinal cord is fine, his brain is fine.
“These are unfortunate circumstances. Gunner will continue to battle. This is part of the game.”
Drew Kiel wouldn’t speculate whether his brother would play against the Hurricanes. He did note that Miami will have to prepare now for two quarterbacks, Gunner Kiel and freshman Hayden Moore, who threw for a school-record 557 yards after replacing Kiel against Memphis.
Tuberville hinted Thursday night that Moore would start against Miami.
“We’ve just got to get (Kiel) 100 percent,” The Associated Press reported Tuberville as saying. “We’ll go with Hayden right now and let Gunner refuel. I’m not going to say 100 percent but (Moore) played good enough to start. We just don’t want to put Gunner in a situation where something might make it worse. He could be the starter next week. I don’t know.”
The Cincinnati Bearcats host the Miami Hurricanes at 7:30 p.m. Thursday in a nationally televised game on ESPN. It is unclear of Cincinnati quarterback Gunner Kiel, injured in each of the past two games, will be ready to play.