When Cole Kmet answered a FaceTime call from Bears coach Matt Nagy Friday night, the celebration that erupted in the Kmet family's Arlington Heights home was one of pure exhilaration.
With his parents, siblings and girlfriend shrieking with excitement, the Notre Dame tight end could barely control his emotions after learning that his hometown team was selecting him with the 43rd pick in the second round of the NFL Draft.
"I mean, this is amazing," Kmet said during a conference call with the media. "It's a dream come true for me and obviously I'm really excited."
An avid Bears fan who grew up in Lake Barrington, Kmet starred in football and baseball at St. Viator High School in Arlington Heights. His father, Frank, was a lineman on the Bears practice squad in 1993 who also hails from the Chicago area, attending Hersey High School in Arlington Heights.
The new Bears tight end was a three-year contributor at Notre Dame. He emerged as a playmaker last season, establishing career highs in all receiving categories with 60 receptions, 691 yards and six touchdowns despite missing the first three games with a broken collarbone.
Asked what he does best, Kmet said: "I think my versatility, just from being able to go from the backfield to in-line to split out wide, that's pretty unique. And I'm an aggressive player. I don't go down on first contact. I like to run through guys and stuff and I'm going to play fast and physical, and I refuse to go down."
Like many young tight ends, the 6-6, 262-pounder tries to pattern his game after Rob Gronkowski.
"A guy I've always looked to was 'Gronk' and his physical style and play and being able to use his size at 6-6," Kmet said. "It's something that's unique and it's something I feel like I can do. His style of play is something I've tried to model after and that's kind of what I'm trying to emulate to be."
As not only a top draft prospect but a fan of the Bears, Kmet was aware that the team was planning to address the tight end position this offseason.
"I know they've been looking for a tight end to fit in the room," Kmet said. "And I know they just signed Jimmy [Graham] … I know that coach Nagy likes to use tight ends in his offense, and he's looking for tight ends that can go in and compete and be able to execute his offense, so I know it was a need and I'm really excited to get in there and get going."
While Kmet is ecstatic about joining the Bears, he insists that he won't feel any extra pressure playing for his hometown team.
"I'm not going to really worry about that stuff," he said. "I know that Bears fans want a winner. I know that because I am one (a fan)."
Kmet revealed that he met with the Bears informally at the NFL Combine and was supposed to make a pre-draft visit to Halas Hall—but it was cancelled due to the coronavirus. Instead, the team interviewed him via video conferencing.
"We were able to set up a Zoom call and I met with pretty much the whole organization at that point," Kmet said, "with coach Nagy and all the other coaches and talked some ball. I stayed in contact with some of the scouts over there, and I knew that they really liked me, so I knew on draft day it was definitely a possibility."
When that possibility turned into a reality Friday night, it was a surreal moment for the 21-year-old and his family.
"My whole family, we grew up Bears fans," Kmet said. "So this is just unreal for us. It's a huge dream come true."