With his parents being UCLA alums, the commitment of Danville (Calif.) Monte Vista tight end Erik Krommenhoek to USC makes for an interesting storyline off the field, but it overshadows his impact for the Trojans on the field.
Krommenhoek’s value to USC as a traditional tight end goes beyond family ties and allegiances. At 6-foot-6, 245-pounds, Krommenhoek’s commitment to USC is all about fit.
With spread offenses so prolific in high school football, true pro-style tight ends have become a dying breed on the recruiting trial. Krommenhoek is one of the few ready-made tight ends in a deep class for the position.
The Trojans currently have four scholarship tight ends on the roster, including two players that transferred into the program. One of those players, senior Taylor McNamara, will graduate after the season. Last year, USC signed Exton (Pa.) four-star tight end Cary Angeline, but failed to secure the commitment of a second tight end in the 2016 class.
Normally, a pro-style, run-first oriented offense would carry six tight ends on scholarship. Thus, USC is expected to sign another tight end to accompany Krommenheok in the class of 2017.
In the 2017 class, USC has offered scholarships to nine prospects projected to play tight end. Krommenheok ran a SPARQ 5.04 40-yard dash at the Northern California Region Opening in May and posted a 29-inch vertical leap.
These numbers are on par with many of the other tight ends in his weight group. Sacramento (Calif.) Inderkum four-star tight end Josh Falo running a 4.97 at 227-pounds for comparison.
USC will use multiple two tight end set formations under Clay Helton as head coach, so Krommenhoek’s ability to play opposite or along side another tight end will be key to the Trojans' offense. This maybe where Krommenhoek excels the most.
With his size and above average ball skills, Krommenhoek is big and strong enough to seal the edge as a run blocker, yet he is quick enough to be a short-to-intermediate threat in the passing game. In other words, Krommenhoek has the physical attributes to be a pivot point for the Trojans’ desire for offensive balance.
For years USC has signaled run or pass based on personnel groupings. Players like Krommenhoek, Tyler Petite and Cary Angeline make it harder for defenses to read play call tendencies because each can run block and pass catch effectively well. Of the group, Krommenhoek is certainly the most physically capable of run and pass blocking coming out of high school.
Ironically, Krommenhoek spent the first two years of his high school career playing quarterback, so his blocking prowess is not to imply that he does not still having upside as a tight end. What it does mean is that he can make an early impact in the Trojans line up because he does not pose as an obvious liability as a blocker.
While every school wants to sign a uber-athlete Vernon Davis type tight end who can stretch the field, blocking is often what limits skill players early on in their college careers.
Expert Opinion with Scout Recruiting Director Brandon Huffman
Having seen Erik Krommenhoek play in-person multiple times at various venues over the past two years, Huffman just recently filmed the big tight end at the UCLA Elite Camp last week.
“He runs well and he catches well at a legit 6-foot-5, 245-pounds,” said Huffman. “He’s a real physical guy and played at the same high school Zach Ertz played in.
“He’s not quite the receiver Zach was at this stage, better he is already a better blocker. He’s going to be tough for a linebacker to cover from a physical standpoint, but he’s not going to blow you away with his speed.
“He ran a 4.7, low 4.8 at UCLA, so he has to work on getting separation and gaining more ground in the open field. He has to be more elusive to be that No. 1 guy — as elusive as a 6-foot-5, 245-pound tight end can be.”
With Lancaster (Calif.) tight end Moses Robinson-Carr committing to Oregon just an hour after Krommenhoek, who USC recruits going forward is still vital
“I think USC will focus on a pure receiving tight end now,” said Huffman. “Maybe that’s Josh Falo.
“I don’t know if Robinson-Carr would even be classified as a receiving tight end. Unless your going for a power line-up to run the ball, that’s what Robinson-Carr, Jimmy Jaggers and Krommenhoek all bring to the table.
“Falo is more of a pass catching tight end, and maybe Randal Grimes as a big receiver compliments USC in that regard as well.”
But make no mistake about it, Huffman makes a distinct difference between labeling Krommenhoek a run-blocking tight end and a traditional tight end.
“Krommenhoek played quarterback at first, so he didn’t play tight end until the middle of his sophomore year,” said Huffman. “Athletically, he’s still capable of being your featured tight end. He just needs to learn the position more.
“If you’re running a spear offense and need him as a Y every other lay, I don’t think he’s that guy. But if you’re running a pro-style offense, where your tight end moves around and is your third or fourth receivers, I definitely think Krommenhoek can be an impact guy.
"He's a traditional tight end in that he's the guy schools use to recruit at that position before spread offenses became the craze. Traditional isn't to say he can't catch the ball and make an impact in that part of the offense for USC."