When Notre Dame landed a verbal commitment from tight end prospect Brock Wright (Cypress, Texas) last summer and fellow tight end Cole Kmet (Arlington Heights, Ill.) about 100 days later, the Irish sealed up their recruiting of the position for the 2017 recruiting cycle.
Actually, once Kmet joined the small contingent of verbal commits for the following recruiting campaign, it curtailed Notre Dame’s tight end recruiting for the ’16 cycle as well.
That seemed like the prudent thing to do at the time. The eventual decision by Tyler Luatua to leave Notre Dame after two seasons put the Irish in a short-term bind heading into ’16 with just three scholarship tight ends returning.
Rather than make a hurried attempt to land a tight end to complete the ’16 recruiting campaign – one that likely would have been a cut below the top-rated tight ends because of the late entry into the competition – Notre Dame stuck with the plan with the possibility of moving a current player from another position to tight end this spring to provide a much-needed fourth body.
Provided the Irish can remain healthy at tight end in ’16 – which they couldn’t do last year – there’s nothing to second-guess with the decision to stand pat at tight end. Even with some adversity at the position, it was the right thing to do as opposed to filling a roster spot with a player that ultimately couldn’t help long-term, let alone short-term.
In Wright and Kmet, the Irish have, according to Scout.com, the top two tight end prospects in the Class of ’17. Between now and February of 2017, Notre Dame will add names to the overall commitment list, most of which will be four-star prospects, just like Wright and Kmet. They’ll remain the centerpiece or one of the centerpieces of the entire class.
Here is our analysis of the two prospects, who appear to be on similar paths but staggered in terms of physical maturity and overall football development.
BROCK WRIGHT (6-5, 240, Cy-Fair High School, Cypress, Texas)
A physically-mature, complete tight end prospect who is the top player in the four-man class so far. A well-rounded, dual tight end with the skills to be an integral part of the passing game as well as an accomplished if not a ready-made blocking tight end (although he just might be ready from the outset after another year of high school football).
An accomplished pass-catching tight end as well. Good explosion and aggressiveness out of a three-point stance. More than enough athleticism to play the position at a high level as a pass receiver.
Good pad level coming out of a set position. Nice release with the fundamental technique of swimming out of a defender’s jam. Good concentration looking the football into his hands. Tops everything off with nimble feet and the agility to make twisting, turning grabs look easy.
COLE KMET (6-6, 240, St. Viator High School, Arlington Heights, Ill.)
Kmet’s timetable was a bit behind Wright’s, but he followed a similar path that inevitably led him to a comfortable if not easy choice of Notre Dame over Ohio State.
Probably more in the 6-foot-4 to 6-foot-5 range (as opposed to the 6-foot-6 listing) with a frame to easily develop into a legit 240-to-250-pounder.
A raw prospect in terms of arriving at Notre Dame in the summer of ’17 as a ready-made player, unless he makes significant strides over the next 16 months. Take the following analysis with a grain of salt because he has a long way to go but has the physical tools to develop as he gains overall strength.
Needs to polish up virtually every aspect of his game. Wouldn’t say he’s a wide receiver in a tight end’s body because he hasn’t yet developed a consistent suddenness to his game, although there are impressive flashes, particularly when he’s physically challenged in game situations.
Shows some high-point ability in the end zone in game situations, but needs to consistently take advantage of an expansive catch radius. Must tighten up his route-running by squaring off his cuts, although his frame accentuates the difficulty of defending a receiver with his length on turn-out routes. Offers alignment flexibility, although at the present time, more as a detached than attached Y receiver.
As a blocker, he needs more strength to be effective, but would improve before the strength arrives if he became a better knee-bender and did a better job of getting underneath the pads of defenders. Blocks high at times, which impacts his leverage/balance.
Notre Dame has one outstanding prospect at tight end and one quality prospect at the position. The outstanding prospect – Wright – should arrive at Notre Dame following his senior season at Cy-Fair High School as a ready-made prospect.
Wright plays a physically-mature game of football from all aspects. He obviously has been well coached because he is about as fundamentally-sound of a tight end – both as a receiver and a blocker – as you’re going to find at a position that almost always requires considerably more bulk/strength upon arrival from the prep level.
This is an A to A+ tight end prospect.
In comparing Wright the high school junior and Kmet the high school junior, the former was a year of development ahead of the latter during the fall season.
That’s a gap that Kmet has a chance to narrow if he uses his physical gifts to his advantage. But he needs to play with the physical maturity and fervor that Wright exudes, and that comes with strength. Kmet doesn’t have the explosiveness of Wright, but he has a great frame with long arms and appears to be the type of personality that will fit well at Notre Dame, which is an important variable.
Notre Dame landed two quality verbal commitments at tight end last summer/fall. One is ahead of the other. Both have the makings of productive tight ends on the collegiate level, although the timetables could be staggered upon their arrival. If Wright is an early-entry – which he is considering – the gap will be a little greater.