2017 TE Cole Kmet trusted his gut for Notre Dame commitment

Tyler James
South Bend Tribune

Somewhere deep in the pit of Cole Kmet’s stomach sat the answer to his question.

The query: which school should I commit to? The answer: Notre Dame.

Kmet, a junior tight end from Arlington Heights (Ill.) St. Viator, shared his decision with his parents and the Notre Dame coaching staff last Thursday. The next day he made his verbal commitment public.

“Everything just felt right at the moment,” Kmet said. “I had been talking with my parents for the past couple days about it and weighing my options. It was more of a gut feeling knowing Notre Dame is the place for me.”

The 6-foot-5, 230-pound prospect chose Notre Dame over Ohio State, the defending national champions. Kmet couldn’t pinpoint what separated the two schools in his mind. He just knew.

“It wasn’t really something specific, it was just more of a feeling that Notre Dame was right for me,” Kmet said.

The total package of Notre Dame sold him on a future with the Irish.

“Obviously their football program is great,” Kmet said. “How they use the tight end is awesome. On the academic side of things, they have good academics and one of the top business schools in the nation that I’m planning on going into. Those are the things that I really looked at.”

Kmet received guidance from his father, Frank Kmet, who went through the recruiting process himself. After winning the 1987 Class 6A state championship for Hersey High in Illinois, Frank Kmet signed with Purdue. After three losing seasons with the Boilermakers, Frank Kmet was less than thrilled with the path his career had taken.

“There hasn’t been one yet,” Frank Kmet said as a senior when he was asked about the high point of his college experience for a 1991 story in the Chicago Tribune. “It’s been pretty down. But I’ve gotten to play in the Big 10, and I’ve had a chance to go to school free.”

With Notre Dame and Ohio State as his top choices, Cole Kmet made sure to set himself up for plenty of victories in his college career.

“My dad was a big help,” Kmet said. “He gave me some advice. But he also left it up to me to make a choice. He guided me throughout the whole way. He didn’t want me to make the mistakes he made.”

The addition of the younger Kmet gives Notre Dame an embarrassment of riches at tight end in the 2017 class. Notre Dame already received a commitment from Brock Wright, the top-rated tight end in the country, in June. With Kmet, tight ends coach Scott Booker has two top 10 tight ends in the 2017 class ready to play for him in the future.

247Sports slates Kmet as a four-star recruit and the No. 4 tight end in the 2017 class. Rivals rates him as a three-star prospect and No. 10 at the position.

Kmet said he talks to Wright a lot and is excited to play with him. Watching Notre Dame use multiple tight end sets this season allowed Kmet to imagine both of them carving out roles in the same offense.

“It’s sweet because we’re two different types of tight ends,” Kmet said. “We both have our different types of styles, and we’ll mesh really well once we get into the offense together.”

Kmet could be the lightning to Wright’s thunder. Kmet, who leads his team with 20 catches for 243 yards and four touchdowns through six games of his junior season, regularly lines up as a wide receiver. Wright, at 6-5, 240, plays in a run-heavy offense and can serve as a punishing blocker.

Both hope to develop into complete players like the long list of NFL-bound tight ends Notre Dame has groomed in the past decade. The Irish have used all five scholarship tight ends this season.

“That was really important to me because they’re using two or three tight ends at a time,” Kmet said. “I’m really trying to develop my blocking skills. I can do everything once I get into the offense.”

Notre Dame impressed Kmet when he visited for the season-opening rout of Texas in September.

“That was my first time being there for a game,” Kmet said. “I just got the feel for the whole game atmosphere — the student section is awesome — and how the players prepare for the game. It was really cool.”

He will return on Saturday for the first time as an Irish commit.

Notre Dame tight end commit Cole Kmet finished his junior season on Friday (Photo courtesy of Daily Herald/Mark Welsh)