Daelin Hayes was not the only freshman to receive some praise from Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly this weekend. True freshman Tommy Kraemer was described as being “light years” ahead of any freshman offensive line under Kelly at Notre Dame. Despite the high praise though, his path to playing time this fall doesn’t appear to be as clear as his defensive counter part.
“As a true freshman, he is light years ahead of any true freshman that we’ve had. By far,” Kelly said on Saturday. “He’s the only true freshman I’ve had here at Notre Dame we would even consider keeping with us and that includes all these guys that are starting for us right now.”
While Kraemer might be light years ahead of his predecessors at this early stage in his career, it doesn’t like he will be joining them in the starting line up any time soon. “We’re going to keep moving him (between) guard and tackle. It’s a long year and we’re going to continue to work with him,” Kelly said. “He’s making progress and we can see him coming along each and every day.”
Some – including myself – thought Kraemer had a chance to come in and win the starting right guard position, but that battle is now down to Tristen Hoge and Colin McGovern. In the meantime, Kraemer has been working with the second team at right tackle while still getting some work inside.
Playing true freshman offensive linemen under Brian Kelly has been rare. In fact, only one true freshman – Steve Elmer – has played along the offensive line in the six years Kelly has coached at Notre Dame. That includes Ronnie Stanley, Nick Martin, Zack Marin, and Chris Watt – all of whom are currently collecting NFL paychecks.
Steve Elmer worked his way onto the field as a true freshman in 2013 in part because of injuries. Elmer, like Kraemer, was recruited as a tackle but played guard as a frosh when injuries struck the Irish OL.
It appears as though Kraemer’s path to the field might require a similar situation whether it be an injury or inconsistent play from whoever wins the RG spot between Hoge and McGovern.
Even though he won’t be starting, Kraemer is set to travel with the team as a part of the active roster. “Here’s a guy that’s still going to be with us and we’ll still entertain the opportunity to maybe some day this year to be on the field playing for us.”
While true freshmen playing along the offensive line are rare, true freshmen linemen receiving praise from Kelly are not. “He’s one of the best I’ve seen in 25 years. He’s that good,” said Brian Kelly of now junior Alex Bars two years ago. Bars eventually redshirted that fall and played in a reserve role last year before injuries cut his season short.
Only time will tell if Kraemer eventually ends up redshirtting like Bars did following Kelly’s comments or if Kraemer forces his way onto the field like Elmer did in 2013.