It’s pretty surprising how little fanfare Cole Kmet got when the Chicago Bears drafted him 43rd overall last April. He was a great story. A native of the Chicago suburbs. A diehard Bears fan growing up. He goes to Notre Dame and then ends up getting drafted by his hometown team. Yet many experts kind of shrugged their shoulders about it.

Why? Probably because Kmet only had one season of decent production for the Irish. When that sort of thing happens, it freaks them out. They start to think something is wrong with him. The thing is though? From a pure talent perspective, Kmet is a beast. He’s big, strong, and fast. He can also catch the football. Under normal circumstances, he would’ve been a top 10 pick.

Under the circumstances, he had at Notre Dame? He probably should’ve been a 5th round pick. Not enough people understand what he juggled in college. It’s one thing for a guy to handle playing a sport and getting good grades in college. It’s quite another to get good grades and play two sports. Irish offensive coordinator Chip Long told J.J. Stankevitz of NBC Sports Chicago how absurd that is.

“His potential hasn’t even been tapped,” Long said. “I think that’s the good thing. You’re getting a first-round talent in the second round and a guy who I think his football is still way ahead of him just with his youth and whatnot. Being able to devote all that time to one aspect. Schooling was obviously a very big ordeal, and baseball. Now he strictly gets to focus on football and training, and it’s just — I can’t wait to see how far he progresses.”

Cole Kmet has a chance to be special with a narrowed focus

Think about it like this. Here’s what Kmet did in 2019. He appeared in 18 innings for the Notre Dame baseball team. He had a 2.89 earned run average with 15 hits allowed in 72 batters faced. Then for football, he made 43 catches for 515 yards and six touchdowns. All of this while recovering from an elbow injury and posting passing grades at a notoriously tough academic school.

Remember that Notre Dame has an admission rate of 18%. This is less than Boston University which has some of the hardest academics in the country. So graduating from that school isn’t a cakewalk. Kmet managed to do it while playing two sports and being hurt in the process. That takes an incredible amount of talent and will power.

If he’d focused solely on football? Odds are the Bears would’ve never had a shot at him back in April.