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Kraemer shows trust in the process, his teammates ahead of Virginia matchup

| Friday, September 27, 2019

It didn’t come immediately for Tommy Kraemer, and it didn’t always come consistently.

But as he prepares for Virginia this weekend, the senior offensive lineman has found his rhythm in the Notre Dame offense. 

A native of Cincinnati, Ohio, the highly-touted five-star recruit picked the Irish over a number of programs, including Michigan, Ohio State and Georgia. An example of hard work paying off, Kraemer spent his freshman season — along with classmates quarterback Ian Book, offensive lineman Liam Eichenberg and running back Tony Jones Jr. — on the scout team. As those teammates have risen in the lineup throughout their careers at Notre Dame, they’ve gone as a unit, each capitalizing on their opportunity to cement themselves as go-to guys for head coach Brian Kelly.

However, it didn’t come easily. Following a season on scout team, Kraemer seemed poised for a breakout season, starting in 12 of 13 games his sophomore season. He was part of an offensive line that set numerous program records in terms of rushing yards and ultimately won the Joe Moore Award, given to the “most outstanding offensive line unit” in college football. 

Then junior season descended and much of the progress Kraemer made seemed to have come to a standstill as he was taken out of the starting lineup against Wake Forest, Navy and Northwestern. Despite that, Kraemer has come back stronger than ever, earning himself a preseason First-Team All-American nod from CBS sports back in August. So far, he’s proved he’s worth that wager, as the Irish are currently ranked 24th in points-per-game with an average just under 40, and despite a 17-point performance against the Bulldogs.

Ann Curtis | The Observer
Irish senior offensive lineman Tommy Kraemer blocks his man during Notre Dame’s 23-17 loss to Georgia on Sept. 21.

While the Irish may have suffered a setback in the hunt for the College Football Playoff (CFP) this past Saturday against Georgia, Kraemer is confident this team has all the tools to compete for a championship.

“Keep doing what we’re doing everyday. We don’t have to be superheroes, we don’t have to do everything,” he said. “… Trust our technique, trust our fundamentals, just play physical.”

He also said the captains and senior leadership called a meeting this week in preparation for Saturday’s matchup with Virginia. 

“Captains decided to call this meeting to make sure that everyone was ready to lock in and ready to attack this week,” he said. “… We showed that we’re tough and physical and really ready to bring that on to Virginia this week.”

While to some the No. 18 Cavaliers might be viewed as a trap game, Kraemer and the offensive line are expecting a hard-fought battle and know they’ll have to show up to help Book in the pocket. 

“They’re a very good defense. They throw a lot of stuff at you,” he said. “They’re physical, they play hard. It’s going to be a great challenge 4-up-4. “

Kraemer’s career has been defined by patience and confidence in the process. With the loss in Athens, Notre Dame no longer controls their own destiny to making the CFP and Kraemer will be expected to step up with that same patience and trust throughout the remainder of this regular season.

“As an offense we all love each other, we’re brothers. Same thing with the defense,” he said “… It’s just the love for each other that’s special.”

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