When Jacob Tamme was pretending to be other great players when he was in his backyard playing sports, he was never a NBA or NFL player. No, Tamme was always pretending to be a University of Kentucky star — someone like Tim Couch, Craig Yeast, Tony Delk, Jeff Sheppard or Jamal Mashburn.
“Those were the guys I idolized. I switched my favorite UK player every year,” said Tamme, a former all-SEC tight end at UK. “Now to think that kids playing in their backyards the last 15 years may have been pretending to be me is really a cool thought.”
The Boyle County native will be inducted in the University of Kentucky Athletics Hall of Fame Sept. 21-22 along with basketball player Anthony Davis, golfer Russ Cochran, tennis player Eric Quigley, basketball player Victoria Dunlap and tennis coach Dennis Emery.
Tamme played on four straight state championship teams at Boyle County. At UK, he finished his UK career in 2007 with 133 catches for 1,417 yards (most ever by a UK tight end) and 11 touchdowns. He had 56 catches for 619 yards and six scores as a senior when he earned All-America honors. He went on to play nine years in the NFL with Indianapolis, Denver and Atlanta and each team reached the Super Bowl.
“It’s such an honor so relatively soon after having finished my career to be awarded an accolade like this. It’s just special for so many reasons,” Tamme said about the Hall of Fame selection. “I had not spent a lot of time thinking about it really. It did surprise me a little bit when I found out.”
"It’s such an honor so relatively soon after having finished my career to be awarded an accolade like this."
Tamme cannot pick out a “favorite” memory from his UK days. He thinks back to the 2006 win over Georgia where fans stormed the field and he cried as he celebrated with them. There were the dramatic wins in 2007 over Louisville and LSU, the eventual national champion.
“I go back and forth on a favorite moment. A lot of times I say Georgia because we knew what that game meant. It was the first time for us to get over a big hurdle like that. We knew we could play better than we had and that win was the first time the fan base really started believing in us,” Tamme said. “I had been part of that fan base growing up and and knew all about the football team’s struggle. I wanted the fans to believe in us and I knew beating Georgia started something pretty special.
“We knocked off Louisville, a top 10 team (in 2007). No one thought we could beat them and then we beat a team (LSU) in overtime that won the national championship in dramatic fashion. Fans were all over the field. I’ll never forget that. Three crowd rushes makes for a pretty neat deal.”
Not that he didn’t have some moments that “stung” when he played and they still do.
None hurt more than the four-overtime, 52-50 loss to Tennessee in 2007 when the Cats missed a 35-yard field goal in the first overtime that would have won the game.
“Beating Tennessee had been one of my dreams since I was a kid,” Tamme said. “I wanted that win so bad. Personally, it was devastating to me. It took everything I had to recoup and get ready for the bowl game. It was heartbreaking but at least we won the bowl game (against Florida State) to end on a high note.”