Notebook: Notre Dame commit Tommy Kraemer ready to splash

Tyler James
South Bend Tribune

The next few months Tommy Kraemer will be practicing his swim move.

No, the Notre Dame offensive line commit isn’t considering a position switch. He’s spending the winter sports season on the Cincinnati Elder swim team.

The 6-foot-5, 310-pound Kraemer will be found in a swimming pool not long after he returns home from Saturday’s U.S. Army All-American Bowl. Just be sure to stay out of his wake.

Instead of playing basketball this winter, Kraemer chose to swim to keep in shape with a lesser chance at injury. He specializes in short-distance freestyle races.

But Kraemer is undoubtedly a better athlete on land. Especially when he’s asked to move defensive linemen out of the way. He did plenty of that in the week leading up to Saturday’s game. His performance earned him the starting right tackle spot for the East.

“I wanted to prove, mainly to myself, that I’m one of the top guys, and I can compete with anyone on the field,” Kraemer said. “I definitely proved to myself this week that I can.”

Defensive ends Brian Burns and Jeffrey Simmons, both coveted four-star recruits, challenged Kraemer throughout the week. The speed of Burns and strength of Simmons provided Kraemer a look at what’s ahead at the college level.

“These guys are going to be probably the same or maybe even better than what I’m going to see in college,” Kraemer said. “It’s a really good adjustment.”

Jones runs hard

Carries can be hard to come by in all-star games.

With multiple running backs and a slew of a talented quarterbacks and receivers on the East team, Notre Dame commit Tony Jones Jr. kept his expectations low for Saturday’s game. Earlier in the week, he forecasted five or six carries to come his way.

Jones was right. After starting the game for the East team, Jones tallied six carries for 18 yards. His best run came on the final play of the first quarter. He started right and cut back inside for a 12-yard gain.

The 6-0, 210-pound Jones is a physical running back who excels between the tackles. The week in San Antonio offered a better glimpse at his skills than other camps he’s attended with the top recruits in the country.

“This week it felt like I had to prove myself competing,” Jones said. “At The Opening we had to run 40s and shuttles and stuff. That’s not my game. Pads bring out my element more than others. This whole week is making people’s eyes pop saying I’m a good back now, saying I’m a one-of-a-kind back right now.”

Running behind Kraemer gave Jones a chance to preview what could come at Notre Dame. Seeing the talent of his future teammate has only reassured his decision to play for the Irish.

“Tommy’s a big guy but there’s a lot of Tommys at Notre Dame,” Jones said. “I feel comfortable.”

Like Kraemer, Jones will transition to another sport when he returns to Bradenton (Fla.) IMG Academy. Jones, an outfielder, has been practicing baseball with his team since late November. He also plans to play baseball for the Irish.

Recruiting others

Both Kraemer and Jones said they spent time trying to help Notre Dame recruit some of its top recruiting targets at the Army Bowl. They listed wide receivers Javon McKinley and Demetris Robertson and linebacker Caleb Kelly as their top priorities during the week.

“I have a good feeling about two of them,” Jones Jr. said.

McKinley announced his commitment to Notre Dame during the game. Time will tell if one of the other recruits will join him.

Notable numbers

• Robertson finished with the longest play of the day for an East team that struggled in a 37-9 loss. His 60-yard kickoff return showed his speed and explosiveness. He added a 24-yard kickoff return and a three-yard rush in defeat.

• Notre Dame target Jordan Fuller recorded two tackles at cornerback for the East defense. Irish linebacker target Caleb Kelly made one tackle for the West.

• Five-star quarterback Jacob Eason, whose father, Tony, played at Notre Dame and who will start classes at Georgia next week, completed six of his 13 passes for 71 yards. He threw one interception, fumbled once and was sacked once.

• Notre Dame long snapper commit John Shannon successfully snapped on four punts and one extra point for the East. | 574-235-6214 | Twitter: @TJamesNDI

Notre Dame offensive line commit Tommy Kraemer started at right tackle for the East team in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl. (Photo courtesy of U.S. Army All-American Bowl)