SAN ANTONIO – Tommy Kraemer got some revenge on the first day of practice for the U.S. Army All-American Bowl. The Notre Dame commitment may have earned a starting right tackle job too thanks to his work against four-star defensive end Jonathan Cooper, an Ohio State commitment.
Cooper lined up at weakside defensive end during team drills but didn’t have much impact and was driven out of the play time after time by Kraemer. Cooper’s only positive play came when Kraemer had sealed off the inside but quarterback Jawon Pass stepped up into the pocket. That allowed Cooper to simply disengage and bat the ball out of the quarterback’s hands.
Kraemer, a four-star prospect and the nation’s No. 3 tackle, started his morning taking snaps at center. He was then stationed at right guard for some drills and eventually made his way to right tackle. That’s a perfect spot for him as he’s agile enough to handle the speed rush, something he couldn’t do against Cooper out of pads last summer at The Opening. The 6-foot-5, 315-pound athlete also showed he’s strong enough to push his blocks in all directions.
On one rep, Kraemer flattened Georgia commit Julian Rochester, then helped the future SEC defensive lineman up off the ground.
Kraemer’s big day highlighted the opening practice for the three Notre Dame commitments representing the East.
Long snapper John Shannon spent most of the morning and afternoon sessions mingling with the kickers and punters while Tony Jones Jr., ran through non-contact drills with the running backs. It’s hard to gauge what impact they’ll have in the game but Shannon’s snaps were flawless.
Jones appeared to be working as the second-team running back, but the first practice is unlikely to set the rotation.
On game day, be on the lookout for a trick play involving the running backs.
The uncommitted Demetris Robertson, who took an official visit to Notre Dame in September and nearly returned last month, was the star of the day.
He kicked off his All-American Bowl appearance by winning the wide receiver 40-yard dash, then made a diving catch that ended with him tumbling into the end zone.
Robertson, who hopes to return to South Bend before signing day, was nearly unstoppable in passing drills and beat some of the top defensive backs on the field, including Irish target Jordan Fuller.
Austin Mack, an Ohio State commit, was a close second to Robertson. He made play after play after play. He did have a drop but certainly made up for it with some of his highlight reel catches.
Robertson and Mack were the best of the East’s wide outs. A distant third was Isaac Nauta, but he’s a tight end. He’s a bit stockier than the East’s other tight end Jake Hausmann (Ohio State), but he’s quick getting into his routes and catches the ball as well as any other receiver on the field not named Robertson or Mack.
The East’s quarterback derby appears to be favoring Georgia commit Jacob Eason, who was consistently better than both Feleipe Franks (Florida) and Jawon Pass (Louisville). Both Franks and Pass had a few nice plays of their own but Eason has the best touch and made fewer mistakes.