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The Journal Gazette

Thursday, August 10, 2017 5:20 am

Kraemer, Kmet have Irish buzzing

CHRIS GOFF | The Journal Gazette

SOUTH BEND — Notre Dame had another practice Wednesday, Day 9 of training camp, so it's a good time for an early look at whose stock has gone up and which players are down.

Risers

Tommy Kraemer, right tackle: At the start of camp, Irish coach Brian Kelly tried to sell everyone that it's an open competition at right tackle. There is no incumbent starter and no one with credentials to demand he start, so Kelly was doing the right thing. However, on Wednesday, Kelly gave up the charade of trying to extend the competition as long as he can. After Kelly's latest comments, we all know how this will turn out, and that's with Tommy Kraemer as the starting right tackle.

"Well, Tommy's still in there as the starter, but I think we still have a guy that is a young player," Kelly said. "He's not a finished product at all, but he's explosive. Big, strong player that we know we're going to get ready."

Another dead giveaway is the revelation that Liam Eichenberg, allegedly one of three candidates taking an equal amount of practice reps, is now working at left tackle in hopes of backing up Mike McGlinchey.

"We want to keep Liam on the left side if we can and settle him into a position," Kelly said. "We've got Robert Hainsey who can shoot over there (to right tackle) and play. Robert becomes kind of our guy that, if he needs to get into the game, he has the strength."

Julian Love, cornerback: Love has put himself in position to be a starter at corner, but the second-year defensive back will also play some safety. That could allow Love to direct traffic in the secondary and use his natural cover skills to improve the defense on passing downs.

"Yeah, he'll play some safety," Kelly said. "He'll play back there in certain situations, third down, maybe, some different packages that we're putting together. We've had some cross-training with Julian at the safety position."

Cole Kmet, tight end: Keep an eye on the freshman. Kmet will have to earn his playing time in a deep position group, but if he keeps making plays in practice, the Irish will get him on the field.

"The latest guy that's entered into the mix there is Cole Kmet," Kelly said. "He's had a strong two or three days."

Fallers

Darnell Ewell, defensive tackle: If Notre Dame's top five defensive linemen are Daelin Hayes, Jay Hayes, Jonathan Bonner, Jerry Tillery and Andrew Trumbetti, Kelly listed off Khalid Kareem, Micah Dew-Treadway, Kurt Hinish and Myron Tagovailoa-Amosa as next in line. No mention of Ewell, a mega-talented four-star recruit.

Kevin Stepherson, wide receiver: No player wants to find himself in Kelly's doghouse, but Stepherson has done just that. He needs to start regaining Kelly's trust to even get meaningful reps.

Jordan Genmark-Heath, safety: Sidelined with a hamstring ailment, the 2017 signee was cleared to practice Wednesday, but his absence has opened the door for Isaiah Robertson as the third safety. Genmark-Heath needs to get back in a hurry with a respectable showing because otherwise he's likely to redshirt.

"We're trying to get a clearer evaluation on Genmark-Heath," Kelly said. "Isaiah is the swing guy right now. We want to see Genmark-Heath, and it's going to take us another week to make that full evaluation."