BEAVERTON, Ore. – Tommy Kraemer closed out The Opening on Friday as a cheerleader.
The Notre Dame commitment never had a chance to take center stage in the finals of the lineman challenge.
As an Ohio high school athlete, Kraemer must abide by the rules and regulations of the Ohio High School Athletic Association, which prohibits contact football during the off-season. That meant no pads during the past two days at Nike headquarters.
“It’s always disappointing when you can’t do all the drills out there,” he said. “Those are the rules and I can’t break them.”
Despite his inability to participate in the contact portion of the event, Kraemer will leave Beaverton eager for the start of his senior season at Elder High School in Cincinnati. He plans to take home the coaching he received from former NFL All-Pro LeCharles Bentley and the rest of The Opening coaches with a focus on fine-tuning his skills before two-a-days start on Aug. 1.
He held his own in the non-contact one-on-ones and further identified his strengths and weaknesses.
“I think I did pretty well; better than I expected,” he said. “Coming out, I knew these guys were going to be quick and physical and I thought I handled myself pretty well. I know what I have to work on and LeCharles gave me a couple things. I’ll work on them and have a good senior year.”
For Kraemer, The Opening gave him a taste of college ball in high school.
He competed against some of the top defensive linemen in the country, something he’ll do on a regular basis in South Bend.
“In high school you’re the big dog and you really don’t have to try as hard as you do out here,” he said. “Out here, you have to give it 110-percent every time. It definitely showed me how it needs to be every rep. It was a good experience.”
Kraemer spent much of the week bonding with fellow Irish commitment Parker Boudreaux and sharing his reasons for pledging to the Irish with many of Notre Dame’s other recruiting targets.
“We were talking about the future and talking about what we’re going to do at Notre Dame together and just life. It was fun,” Kraemer said. “We were talking to Caleb Kelly and some of those guys, but mostly we hung out with all the other linemen. They are great dudes. It was fun getting to know those guys.”
The competition was a highlight of the event but Kraemer’s favorite part of the week was a Q&A session with the coaching staff, which consisted of current and former NFL players.
“Probably one of the best things we did was yesterday after the athletic part of it when we went in the meeting room and the big offensive lineman for the Redskins and our two coaches and LeCharles,” he said. “We were watching film and then we could ask them questions about life and the money part of the NFL and college. A lot of it wasn’t even about football. It was about life and how to handle yourself. I thought that was the most important thing for me.”
Overall, The Opening was everything Kraemer expected it to be and more.
Now he’s ready to return to Cincinnati to kick off his senior season.
“It was a great experience,” he said. “When you go against the best you get a lot better. I’m going to be going into high school in a couple of weeks just ready to get after it.”