Notre Dame OL commit Tommy Kraemer rises to top of talent pool

Bob Wieneke
South Bend Tribune

The fact that recent Notre Dame offensive line commit Tommy Kraemer also plays basketball isn’t a rarity, considering he’s a big man and that basketball helps with his footwork, builds stamina, etc.

Swimming, however, isn’t a sport you often associate with football players. Yes, current Irish safety Max Redfield took up swimming prior to enrolling at ND to improve his cardio, but Kraemer is an offensive lineman, and he competes for a club team. Six-foot-5, 305-pound four-star offensive tackles typically aren’t someone you see every day, particularly those who swim the 50- and 100-yard freestyles.

“You do not,” Doug Ramsey, Kraemer’s football coach at Cincinnati Elder High School, said. “I give him a hard time about it all the time, about sinking, and what kind of swimsuit he wears. That concerns me a little bit.”

Kraemer may receive some good-natured ribbing about his pastime in the pool, but it no doubt helped him float to the position he’s currently in, and that’s a highly-coveted recruit who Rivals.com ranks as the top junior in Ohio, the No. 3 offensive tackle in his class and the 20th-best prospect overall in the recruiting class of 2016.

“He’s very physical. He’s got a nasty streak. He can pass protect,” Ramsey said. “He’s just a really good athlete.”

One who on Saturday, about an hour before Notre Dame’s late comeback victory over Stanford, announced on Twitter that he would join the Irish, picking them from among a final five that also included Ohio State, Boston College, Northwestern and Duke.

Ramsey said Kraemer’s stock began to build after last season, Kraemer’s first on the Elder varsity. The Elder coaches, however, have had their eyes on Kraemer for quite some time. Kraemer’s father, who played at Vanderbilt, is Elder’s offensive line coach, and Ramsey remembers the younger Kraemer hanging around practices and serving as a ballboy.

But because of his size, Kraemer wasn’t allowed to play in youth leagues, and there was a little part of Ramsey that wondered if Kraemer would ever develop.

“He was just such a nice kid, you just always wondered, when he gets on the field will he be able to turn it on?” Ramsey said. “But he’s got that streak and he’s a very competitive person.”

It’s a high level of competition at Elder that Ramsey believes has helped Kraemer, and other Elder players, develop. Elder enters Friday’s game against powerful Moeller (the school at which Irish 2015 defensive line commit Elijah Taylor plays) at 3-2, but it’s been a schedule loaded with healthy competition.

Elder beat Notre Dame commit Shaun Crawford’s Lakewood (Ohio) St. Edward’s, with losses coming to traditional powers McDonogh (a Baltimore-area school), and a double-overtime loss to Cincinnati St. Xavier last Friday.

“When you talk about Tommy and the people that he’s already played against, just this year, there’s kids that are going to school all over the place,” Ramsey said. “So our guys are always prepared; they’ve played against great people.”

There are also great players that have traveled the path from Elder to Notre Dame, namely former Irish tight end Kyle Rudolph, who is now with the Minnesota Vikings. In fact, Kraemer recently tapped into Rudolph as he neared a decision.

“I know in the last couple of weeks, Tommy’s talked to Kyle a couple times about it,” Ramsey said, “and I think Kyle said, ‘Tommy, this is the right place. It’s a great situation for you; it’s what you want. Just go ahead and do it and you’re going to love being there.’”

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