I suppose this should be getting old by now and therefore I should have less reason to be excited, but it's something I'm never going to get tired of. If Notre Dame lands a blue chip player, even at a position where they have landed as many as any team in the nation, I'm always going to be excited about it.
It's not every day that Notre Dame lands a 5 star offensive tackle. They landed one on Saturday with the addition of Tommy Kraemer. I don't think I need to apologize for being pumped about landing one of the best players in the nation regardless of his position.
I broke down Kraemer about a month ago and the biggest thing that stood out to me as to why he's a 5 star talent does not just have to do with outstanding size (6'5" 310 as a junior in high school) or the fact that he has such light feet for a player his size. It's that his strength has not even come close to matching up with his size yet and he was still fairly dominant at such a young age.
In addition to that, he does things naturally that other players seem to struggle with. He has great length and he uses those long arms with a solid punch in pass protection. His technique is ridiculously advanced as well and you can tell he has been well coached. To me though, the most impressive thing Kraemer does is sustain and finish his blocks.
That's what separates a 5 star offensive lineman from his peers in my opinion. Kraemer consistently does this and it's awesome to watch.
Because he still has to physically mature quite a bit in terms of his strength, you don't see him driving as many players ten yards down the field and dumping them on their butt. He certainly gets his fair share of pancake blocks, but they aren't quite the same that some would expect. He does an outstanding job of turning his opponents shoulders and using leverage to win the play. Leverage is not just about pad level, which he can still work to improve on, but also about him getting his feet, hands, and hips in the right position to take the defender where he wants him to go.
Below is a play from Kraemer's sophomore season that demonstrates what I'm talking about.
Kraemer plays right tackle for his high school. The plays is designed to be run inside of him with the guard on the opposite side coming around and leading through the hole along with fullback with the running back following.
If you focus on Kraemer you can see him fit his block, turn his defender's shoulders, and finish the play by putting the player on his back.
This is a common occurrence for Kraemer and it's just as effective as driving a player ten yards down the field. The result of the play wasn't the greatest because of the pulling guard being too slow to get around and through the hole, but Kraemer executed his job in the play design pretty much perfectly.
As a comparison, I wanted to show another example of a similar kind of block. This one is from former Notre Dame offensive tackle Zack Martin against Stanford last season.
It's not the kind of block that is going to make the highlight reel (not many do). It just shows the best blocks are not always the ones that involve double teaming a defender into oblivion. It's efficient execution of a block where Martin takes the defender where he wants to take him and then finishes the play.
I don't see Kraemer developing into the same type of player that Martin was for Notre Dame. Martin had exceptional feet that allowed him to play left tackle and I see Kraemer as much more of mauling right tackle or possibly kicking inside to guard. Kraemer has good feet, but he's not the athlete that Martin or Ronnie Stanley is.
247Sports' Steve Wiltfong has said Notre Dame's 2016 recruiting class could be in the mix for the top recruiting class in the nation based on the players the Irish are currently in on and adding Kraemer is an outstanding way to start it off.
Kraemer is a player that consistently finishes his blocks and also has some nasty to his game, just like 2015 offensive line commit Tristen Hoge. (And just a reminder that what I showed you from Kraemer was as a sophomore. Hoge's film was as a senior. Chew on that for a second and think about how much better Kraemer is going to be as a senior. Yup, it's going to be scary.)
Maybe one day I will get tired of the Irish landing big time offensive line recruits, but that day isn't coming any time soon. As long as they keep landing players like Kraemer, it's doubtful that day will ever come.