Notebook: 2016 OL Tommy Kraemer gives commitment to Notre Dame

Tyler James
South Bend Tribune

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SOUTH BEND — Commitments often come shortly after big games.

On Saturday, Notre Dame locked up a commitment before its game even started.

Offensive lineman Tommy Kraemer, a junior at Cincinnati Elder, announced his pledge to the Irish football program on Twitter a little less than an hour before Notre Dame and Stanford kicked off.

“Proud to announce my commitment to the University of Notre Dame,” Kraemer wrote.

The 6-foot-5, 308-pound prospect made his second game visit to Notre Dame this season. The four-star recruit also attended the 31-0 defeat of Michigan in September.

"Kraemer is a tackle in high school but could play tackle or guard,” said CBS Sports Network recruiting analyst Tom Lemming. “He is a premier prospect. He has natural knee bend with good body control. He can redirect quickly. I've given him four-plus stars.”

Rivals ranks Kraemer as the No. 3 offensive tackle in the 2016 class and the No. 20 recruit regardless of position. 247Sports slates him as the No. 8 offensive tackle and No. 37 overall.

Kraemer, like offensive linemen Jerry Tillery (2015) and Steve Elmer (2013) in their recruiting classes, becomes the first Notre Dame verbal commitment in the 2016 class. The Irish have turned up the recruiting success along the offensive line since position coach Harry Hiestand joined the staff in 2012. The position group has routinely been Notre Dame’s strongest in each of the last three recruiting classes.

“They're doing a great job in his third year coaching the offensive line,” Lemming said. “They really want to get (2016 offensive lineman) Liam Eichenberg out of Cleveland St. Ignatius. Then they would get two of the top three in the Midwest.”

Kraemer held more than a dozen scholarship offers and chose Notre Dame out of a top five that included Ohio State, Northwestern, Duke and Boston College.

“He's a major talent,” Lemming said, “and a major catch for Notre Dame to get going on the 2016 class."

Kraemer’s commitment marked a good start for a recruiting weekend with a talented visitors list that rivaled the one on hand for the Michigan game four weeks earlier. Notre Dame hosted five 2015 targets on official visits this weekend: safeties Frank Buncom IV and Calvin Brewton, wide receiver Equanimeous St. Brown, defensive end Mekhi Brown and quarterback Brandon Wimbush.

Unexpected visitors

A pair of in-state 2015 recruits with commitments elsewhere showed up Saturday for Notre Dame’s game against Stanford.

Linebacker Darrin Kirkland Jr., a Michigan commit, and quarterback Tommy Stevens, an Indiana commit, watched the Irish beat the Cardinal 17-14 in the stands of Notre Dame Stadium. Ben Koyack’s game-winning touchdown happened right in front of Kirkland, Stevens and the 30-plus other recruits visiting Notre Dame.

Neither Kirkland nor Stevens hold offers from the Irish, but Saturday’s visit indicates the Notre Dame coaching staff is keeping a close eye on the two.

Kirkland, a 6-2, 228-pound senior at Indianapolis Lawrence Central, has been committed to Michigan since May. The four-star recruit is considered one of the top prospects in Indiana. 247Sports slates Kirkland as the No. 6 inside linebacker and the No. 208 recruit regardless of position in the 2015 class. Rivals ranks him as the No. 7 insider linebacker and No. 167 overall.

Notre Dame does not hold a commitment from an inside linebacker prospect in the 2015 class. The Irish could choose to pursue Kirkland if they lose out on four-star linebacker Te’von Coney in a battle with Florida.

Stevens, a 6-3, 196-pound senior at Indianapolis Decatur Central, has been committed to the Hoosiers since June. The three-star prospect has completed 78 of 129 passes for 1,277 yards and 14 touchdowns through seven games as a senior. He has also rushed for 651 yards and six touchdowns.

Rivals ranks Stevens as the No. 15 dual-threat quarterback in the 2015 class. 247Sports slates him No. 16 at the position.

The Irish have had little luck with quarterback recruiting since losing the commitment of Blake Barnett in June. This weekend may have started some momentum at the position with the visit from Stevens and the official visit from Penn State quarterback commit Brandon Wimbush, a four-star prospect.

tjames@ndinsider.com | 574-235-6214 | Twitter: @TJamesNDI

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Cincinnati Elder offensive lineman Tommy Kraemer, a 2016 prospect, verbally committed to Notre Dame on Saturday. (Photo courtesy of Cincinnati Enquirer)