Elder senior offensive lineman Tommy Kraemer will wear No. 78 at Notre Dame this upcoming football season in part as a tribute to the late Matt James.
Kraemer, a U.S. Army All-American Bowl selection and Gatorade Ohio Player of the Year this past season, selected No. 78 out of the available numbers.
James, a U.S. Army All-American offensive lineman who wore No. 78 at St. Xavier, was also a Notre Dame signee. James died April 2, 2010 after he fell from a fifth-floor hotel balcony in Panama City, Florida.
Although Kraemer was in the seventh grade at the time, he understands the impact James had on the field.
“Out of the numbers available, I picked 78,” Kraemer told WCPO.com. “The thought of the James family definitely ran through my head and I thought it would be a special way to honor that great family.”
Craig James, Elder’s assistant athletic director and defensive coordinator, is a cousin of Matt’s father, Jerry James.
“Matthew is still such a huge part of our lives,” Craig James said. “Anyone wearing 78 is cool.”
Kraemer tweeted that he wants to pick up right where former Notre Dame offensive lineman Ronnie Stanley left off with the number with the Fighting Irish. Stanley was selected No. 6 by the Baltimore Ravens in the first round of the NFL Draft in April.
“Do it justice,” Stanley tweeted at Kraemer in response Thursday night.
I'll be wearing number 78 next season! I'll pick up right where you left off!! @ronnie_stanley #78
— Tommy Kraemer (@Big_TK78) May 13, 2016
Stanley was a sophomore right tackle in 2013 when he allowed former St. Xavier quarterback Luke Massa to wear No. 78 on Senior Day at Notre Dame. Stanley wore No. 69 instead in that game against BYU.
Kraemer amassed 156 pancake blocks and anchored a team offense that racked up 5,064 yards of total offense and averaged 390.3 yards per game last season for Elder (9-4).
Kraemer was Division I first-team all-state and all-Greater Catholic League South division. He won the Anthony Munoz Foundation Offensive Lineman of the Year award in January.
Kraemer graduates from Elder May 31. He reports to South Bend June 11.
Notre Dame opens the season at Texas Sept. 4.