NO. 7: OT-TOMMY KRAEMER/LIAM EICHENBERG (RS-Fr.)
• The Journey: It’s been a short journey for the red-shirt freshmen who preserved a year of eligibility, although Kraemer – Scout’s No. 3-rated offensive tackle in the Class of 2016 – and Eichenberg – the No. 7 offensive tackle – were among the first two in the 23-man class to verbally pledge to the Irish.
In fact, Kraemer, from Cincinnati (Elder High School), was the first to choose the Irish that year and Eichenberg, from Cleveland (St. Ignatius High School), was the sixth. Both hopped on board the Harry Hiestand bandwagon early as so many top-rated offensive linemen have since his arrival to Notre Dame.
Both worked at tackle during their freshman seasons with the Irish. Kelly singled out Eichenberg late in the season as someone who was really impressing on the practice field, giving the frontline defensive players all they could handle as a member of the prep team.
• The Spring: There has been no indication from Brian Kelly or his staff as to which of the two has emerged as a frontrunner. Based upon the media’s practice observations, Kraemer and Eichenberg have alternated with the first and second teams, depending upon the day.
Eichenberg (6-6, 294) is a better overall fit for the tackle position, but Kraemer (6-5½, 313) is the bigger body. From a pass-blocking standpoint, Eichenberg is more nimble of foot while Kraemer is more of a power blocker, which is why he could play guard if the Irish chose to go in that direction.
Odds are, however, that whichever of the two wins the job – Irish Illustrated believes Hiestand may be leaning toward Kraemer at right tackle – the other will be the starter at the opposite tackle position in 2018. Eichenberg is the better fit for the left side long-term.
• The Quote: “Each of them is a little bit different. Kraemer is at times a little bit more physical, and Eichenberg (is) a little bit longer, which translates into pass (protection). Both of them are really good players.” -- Kelly
“He’s a stud. We’re just not going to play him this year. He’s a special player.” – Kelly on Eichenberg last October.
“Whatever he tells me. I just say ‘yes’ and ‘no’ and ‘thank you for being here.’” – Kelly in October on what position Eichenberg would play.