Redshirt year makes Tamme better player

November 11, 2003|LARRY VAUGHT

LEXINGTON - Because Jacob Tamme usually works with the scout team against Kentucky's first-team defense, starting quarterback Jared Lorenzen doesn't get to watch the freshman receiver often.

"I work with him occasionally and sometimes I get to watch him," said Lorenzen. "I worked with him a lot more in the summer when we weren't sure if he would be redshirted or not. That boy had Velcro on his hands. I heard a lot of hype about him coming out of high school, and he can catch. I am really looking forward to seeing him the next couple of years."

The former Boyle County standout is being redshirted this year so he'll have four years of eligibility left.

"It's fun to go against the first-team defense," Tamme said. "You learn a lot doing that. It's the fastest speed you can go against. Whenever you do something good against them, you know you are doing something pretty good because they are playing well in the games.


"The redshirt year has made me a better player. (Assistant) Coach (Joker) Phillips has helped me and the older guys have, too, with things like looking at defenses, my footwork, and things like that. I have definitely improved going against that first-team defense. I am getting 50 or 60 snaps every practice against an SEC (Southeastern Conference) defense. If I was playing, I might be getting seven games against an SEC starting defense. That's why this is working out to my benefit."

Tamme wasn't sure where he would play when he signed with Kentucky. He knew it could be wide receiver, defensive back or even tight end. With UK's lack of depth at tight end, some have speculated that he might be moved there next year, especially if he adds weight to his 6-5 frame. However, Kentucky coach Rich Brooks likes Tamme right where he is.

"He's going to be a really good player for us," Brooks said. "Receiver is his best spot right now, but that could change depending on how much he grows. But he runs well enough to play receiver. He runs great routes, he has terrific hands and he's a tough guy. He's going to be a very good player.

"I am not going to worry about where he might play in the future. I am just going to worry about him developing his skills. All I know is that right now he's a difficult guy to cover in practice because of his height."

Tamme isn't worried about where he'll play. He just wants to play.

"Everybody keeps joking around that if I get bigger, I might end up at tight end," Tamme said. "I don't care. If I get big enough to play tight end, then tight end it is. It really doesn't matter to me. I'll play defense. I just want to get on the field. I've gained 10 pounds since I've been here. Who knows what might happen by spring?"

He's still not totally ruled out trying to play for the UK baseball team, an option Brooks said he could explore when he signed with the Wildcats. Tamme, an all-state baseball player at Boyle, had several Division I baseball offers.

"Everything is going so fast right now that I really haven't sat down and even thought about that yet," Tamme said.

He has had to learn what it is like to watch a game from the stands, something he seldom did while playing football, basketball and baseball at Boyle.

"The weirdest thing about being redshirted is just watching the game from the stands," Tamme said. "You go through practice and then you watch from the stands. It's something everybody that gets redshirted goes through. But being on the sidelines in uniform for a couple of games early this season was pretty cool. I can't wait until next year when hopefully I'll be there all the time."

Brooks has no doubts Tamme will be in uniform next season.

"I don't think there is any question he will help us next year," Brooks said. "He needs to improve his strength level and understanding of the offense. But as far as running routes and catching, he's doing a good job. He's a tall, lanky guy. He comes out of his pass breaks well for a tall guy. He could be a big target we need."

That's why Lorenzen would want Tamme playing an inside receiver, not tight end, if he was going to be playing quarterback at Kentucky next year.

"He's good at finding holes across the middle. He'll admit he's not a 4.3 (second) guy in the 40 (yard dash)," Lorenzen said. "He won't outrun many people, but he gets across the middle and he makes plays. That's what you want out of somebody big and tall. When you get to the end zone, you can just throw it up and let him make a play. I think that's the best way to utilize him the best and I'll be surprised if he's not a very, very good player here the next few years."

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