TE Cole Kmet, OL Liam Eichenberg plan to return to Notre Dame next season

Tyler James
South Bend Tribune

Plans can change, but as of Tuesday night, both junior tight end Cole Kmet and senior left tackle Liam Eichenberg plan to return to Notre Dame’s football program next season.

Both Irish players were asked about their futures by reporters during media availability Tuesday night inside the Guglielmino Athletics Complex. Both responded with answers that should make the Notre Dame coaching staff smile.

“I plan on coming back and playing baseball in the spring, and then being here for my senior season,” Kmet said.

Said Eichenberg: “I plan on coming back for a fifth year.”

The expressed decision by Kmet will likely be bigger news in 2020 NFL Draft circles. Just last week, The Athletic’s NFL Draft analyst Dane Brugler ranked Kmet as the No. 46 overall prospect for next year’s draft. Only Washington’s Hunter Bryant, also a junior, was ranked higher overall at tight end at No. 41.

The 6-foot-6, 250-pound Kmet has impressed in his first season as a full-time starter for the Irish. After missing the first two games with a broken collarbone, Kmet caught 29 passes for 327 yards and five touchdowns in seven games so far this season. Kmet ranks sixth among FBS tight ends in receptions per game with 4.1.

Because Kmet’s draft stock has risen so much, Kmet was asked multiple times to verify that he didn’t misspeak.

“It’s my plan right now,” Kmet said when asked if he already had made that decision.

Could the plan change?

“I don’t really see that changing right now,” Kmet said.

Kmet, a pitcher, had his sophomore baseball season cut short with elbow soreness in his throwing (left) arm.

He pitched 18 2/3 innings in eight games, compiling a 2.89 ERA with 27 strikeouts and three walks.

Kmet’s younger brother, Casey, will be a freshman catcher and infielder on Notre Dame’s baseball team in the spring.

The 6-6, 305-pound Eichenberg was ranked as the No. 4 offensive tackle prospect for the 2020 NFL Draft by Brugler heading into the 2019 season. But Eichenberg, who has started the last 22 games at left tackle, wasn’t included in Brugler’s Top 100 last week, which featured 10 offensive tackles.

Eichenberg will be eligible for a fifth year because he redshirted with the Irish as a freshman in 2016.

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Tight end Cole Kmet, a junior, said he plans to return to Notre Dame next season.
Notre Dame left tackle Liam Eichenberg (74) expects a physical challenge from Navy’s defense on Saturday.