Jacob Tamme was driving to Gatlinburg with his family for a weekend getaway when he received a phone call from Mitch Barnhart.
“I certainly wasn’t expecting to hear that,” Tamme said. “It was a special moment, a special call, for all kinds of reasons.”
That special call confirmed the former Kentucky tight end would be a member of the 2018 UK Athletics Hall of Fame Class. Tamme has received many honors for playing football — two First Team All-SEC selections and two Music City Bowl trophies to name just a few — but all pale in comparison to this.
“I’m probably not going into Canton, but even if I were…for me, the way I grew up and what UK Athletics means to me, going into this one, I don’t know if it could be any better.”
In an interview with Kentucky Roll Call, Tamme’s humility could be heard through the airwaves. The Danville native never thought his football career could take him this far. He just hopes it will inspire others to do the same.
“For this Kentucky boy who grew up dreaming to play for the Cats, to think that I made a mark there worthy of a recognition like this is very, very special,” he said.
“It’s something to be proud of and I hope it’s something that gives encouragement to small-town Kentucky kids all over the state to go chase that dream and work. Some talent, some grit and some determination can take you a long way.”
Tamme admitted he didn’t really think about playing football professionally until later in life. He simply remained focused on school and helping his team succeed. The rest took care of itself. After the 2006 season, a lightbulb when off when Tamme was selected First Team All-SEC tight end.
“I thought to myself, ‘You know what, First Team All-SEC tight ends usually have a chance at going to the NFL.'”
After another excellent season, Tamme earned the esteemed All-SEC title again before the Indianapolis Colts drafted him in the fourth round of the NFL Draft. Initially a special teams player, that grit and determination made him one of Peyton Manning’s favorite targets. Tamme played in three Super Bowls in nine NFL seasons before retiring and returning to Boyle County to become a cattle farmer.
One Kentucky Wildcat may soon following Tamme’s footsteps. C.J. Conrad is currently projected as the top tight end in next year’s NFL Draft. If Conrad remains healthy, Tamme believes he has all of the tools to succeed.
“I think if he stays healthy it certainly could be a fun year for him,” said Tamme. “He’s a good all-around tight end. I think he does a good job when they ask him in the run game. He does a good job of catching the football. The main thing for him is staying healthy, where he can move at 100 percent all the time, get open on those man-to-man routes and find holes, get in the right spots.”
In the 15-minute interview, Tamme also explained how UK’s offense can get more receptions to the tight end, why his father-in-law’s absence is a good luck charm and he answered the question, “Who is the best Kentucky football player to ever wear No. 18?”
Listen to the entire interview with Tamme below: