‘He’ll kick you while you’re down’

SAN ANTONIO – Tommy Kraemer has made his mark during the buildup to the U.S. Army All-American Bowl. The ‘aw-shucks’ offensive tackle has a mean streak too. It’s showing here.

SAN ANTONIO – Tommy Kraemer hoped to establish himself as one of the best offensive linemen at U.S. Army All-American Bowl.

By almost all accounts the Irish commitment has exceeded his own expectations.

“Tommy is a big dude who moves real well and he’s very smart,” said East offensive line coach Paul Horne, the longtime offensive coordinator/offensive line coach at Naples High in Florida. “He’s awesome as far as coachability goes and he’s got a little nasty streak that is behind that nice, ‘aw-shucks,’ kind of country boy, ‘oh I’m having fun out here.’ He’ll kick you while you’re down. That’s good. I like that about having a little attitude in an offensive lineman.”

Kraemer was named to Scout.com’s top performers list following practice on both Monday and Tuesday. After an off day on Wednesday he returned to the practice field ready to continue his dominance.

His only flaw was a wardrobe malfunction that led to him wearing an old gold Army game practice jersey rather than the black ones worn by the other offensive players.

“The laundry company lost all my clothes,” Kraemer said. “I had to do a new jersey today. It was just my football stuff so it was all good.”

Kraemer started out the week taking snaps at center and guard before solidifying his spot as the East’s starting right tackle.

Now he’s ready to represent the East and his Cincinnati Elder teammates on national TV on Saturday.

“It was a real good week this week coming out here and competing against the best,” he said. “It was a lot of fun getting after it. Coming into this week I wanted to prove that I could compete with the best and be one of the top guys and I think I did that this week.”

Scout.com recruiting analyst Allen Trieu agreed.

“Tommy Kraemer has been very impressive this week,” Trieu said. “I think he's been the best offensive lineman on the East team. He's been blocking the best in the country and done it well consistently. He's looked good in run blocking and pass blocking drills and his name came up a lot when I asked other East players who has impressed them this week.”

Kraemer has competed against several of the nation’s top defensive linemen including Janarius Robinson (Florida State), Jonathon Cooper (Ohio State) and Jeffery Simmons (uncommitted) and has had little trouble keeping them away from the quarterback.

According to Kraemer, Simmons proved difficult to handle during in practice.

“Jeffery Simmons probably challenged me the most,” Kraemer said. “He’s a real good bull rusher and he’s quick. It took me a while to adjust to it but I eventually did.”

Kraemer also shut down Cooper, who had beaten Kraemer in the one-on-one finals of The Opening Regional camp in Columbus this summer. Kraemer had trouble handling Cooper’s speed off the edge but that disadvantage disappeared once the two put on pads.

“When you’re in pads you can hit earlier at the line and jam them and lock out,” Kraemer said. “Once I get my hands on people they’re done so the speed wasn’t that big of a deal.”

It isn’t just Kraemer’s physical abilities that led to his rise as the East’s top lineman. He also has mastered the playbook.

“He’s been pretty spot on about knowing his plays and assignments, which is very impressive to me having picked it up in three practices,” Horne said. “He’s a guy I know I can count on to know what’s going on signal-wise and getting everybody straight up front to make sure we’re all on the same page.”

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