By Cam Smith, USA TODAY High School Sports | October 5, 2016 5:13 pm
Cole Kmet is one of the nation’s top tight ends in the part of the country where tight ends tend to thrive. He’s the four-star figurehead of St. Viator’s football program in Arlington Heights, Ill., just outside Chicago. He’s a Notre Dame commit, and he’s just about everything that a U.S. Army All-American is expected to be.
That made his jersey presentation as part of the U.S. Army All-American Selection Tour presented by American Family Insurance a truly authentic and grateful experience, for all involved.
“It was really special to be honored like that in front of my family and my teammates,” Kmet told USA TODAY. “Being invited was awesome and it was great to be honored in front of all the people I care about.
“The fact that the game is represented by the Army, being able to represent the Army and everything it stands for in our country is really special.”
Kmet is the first St. Viator player to receive an invitation to the Army All-American Bowl. While St. Viator has won state titles in boys and girls soccer, and golf, it has yet to take the state by storm on the football field.
— Martin Jennings (@ViatorAthletics) October 5, 2016
That’s not the case with Kmet, who has risen to become the nation’s No. 3-ranked tight end and a top-100 overall prospect despite a lack of exposure relative to many of the athletes rated near or above him. Luckily for Kmet, the 6-foot-4, 220-pounder has plenty of friends around to keep him grounded, and who have helped inspire the kind of work ethic that includes a serious commitment to blocking on the edge, one of his favorite skills.
“I’ve made so many friends at St. Viator who have helped me to stay humble,” Kmet said. They and the school have taught me to keep working hard and your dreams will come true.”
As for the U.S. Army All-American Bowl, Kmet is most looking forward to seeing how he stacks up against the nation’s top prep football players. That will be a good proving ground before he heads to Notre Dame, which, “just felt good and right,” during the recruiting process. He’s confident with the coaching staff and the blend between top football and academics that he will receive in South Bend, and he might even be able to have an impact with another sport on campus, too.
“I’m a big baseball player and am going to play baseball this year, too,” Kmet said. “I’m a pitcher and outfielder, and I hope to play that at Notre Dame.”