Meet the new Gronk. Same as the old Gronk?
Well, not really.
Lake Barrington native Cole Kmet was selected by the Chicago Bears in the second round (No. 43 overall) of the NFL Draft Friday night. He first made headlines on the football field and baseball diamond at Saint Viator High School before becoming a go-to target as a tight end for Brian Kelly’s offense at Notre Dame.
His star potential was noticed by several college coaches in his prep career at the Arlington Heights school. But there was an amusing moment during a 2016 7-on-7 tournament that gave his head coach, Dave Archibald, a reason to think that the upcoming senior could have NFL potential.
“Our offense was on the sidelines during one of the games and this assistant coach from another school comes over,” Archibald said. He goes up to Kmet and says, ‘Man…what do they call you, Gronk?’ Cole answered, ‘No…my friends call me Cole.’”
Call it an ‘aw-shucks’ moment. Call it a moment of unintentional comedy. But to have Kmet earn the comparison to former Patriots —and now, current Buccaneers— tight end Rob Gronkowski at an early age gave Archibald all the reason to think he had someone special on his team. It was his leadership skills, though, that cemented Kmet’s legacy in the East Suburban Catholic Conference— and beyond.
“He works hard, he is coachable and cares about everyone around him and always put the team first, Archibald said. “He will represent the franchise and the McCaskey family with the utmost integrity. The Bears made the right pick.”
Kmet racked up 773 receiving yards on 48 catches with four touchdowns his senior year at Saint Viator. He was the No. 3-ranked player in Illinois according to several publications including Rivals.com, ESPN.com, and 247Sports.
In South Bend, Kmet played all 13 games on the gridiron as a freshman while also spending time as a relief pitcher on the Fighting Irish baseball team.
After contributing 15 catches for 162 yards as a sophomore, he broke out his junior season. Kmet tallied 43 receptions for 515 receiving yards and six trips to the end zone.