Tamme: Competition will make UK's receivers better

August 20, 2004|LARRY VAUGHT

After playing on four straight championship teams at Boyle County and then having to wait for a second scholarship offer from the University of Kentucky, Jacob Tamme knows what pressure means.

Yet even though he's playing at the position considered to have more talent than any other spot at Kentucky, the redshirt freshman receiver insists he feels no extra pressure as he tries to earn playing time.

"There is always pressure at this level, but it is pressure you want to have and pressure you like," Tamme said. "We have eight guys we can throw in the first group. One day one guy will make a huge play, the next day it will be someone else. That makes everyone better."

Tamme says receivers coach Joker Phillips recently told his players that he had as much competition at receiver as he's ever had in his coaching career.


"We have a real talented group and a lot of guys who can do different things," Tamme said. "I just have to play to my strong suits."

Tamme's strength is no secret. If the ball is close to him, he usually catches it. Kentucky coach Rich Brooks also likes Tamme's height.

"I think my strongest suit is just catching the ball," said Tamme, who had 97 catches for 1,866 yards and 32 touchdowns at Boyle. "I feel like I am real consistent as far as catching the ball and that is big in games to make sure we get yardage. My height obviously helps, too. Now that we also have Worm (Lonnell Dewalt), we have two pretty big guys who can go up and get the ball."

Injured thumb earlier this week

Tamme injured his thumb earlier this week, but did not miss practice despite having it heavily taped.

"Whatever it takes to catch the ball, I'll do it. I'll probably be coming across the middle and catching the ball in traffic a lot," Tamme said. "But whatever they want, that's fine with me."

Tamme, who was named most valuable player in the 2001 and 2002 state championship games, hopes another skill he learned at Boyle will help earn him additional playing time.

"I am one of those guys that has to block. I will go in motion and be like another tight end at times," Tamme said. "Down on the goal line, we'll do that a lot. That is another thing that can get me on the field if I go in there and make big blocks.

"The coaching staff at Boyle County gets you ready for that kind of stuff. It is a real physical environment at Boyle and that gets you ready for coach Phillips' style of blocking because he likes tough receivers."

Tamme also continues to like Shane Boyd, UK's starting quarterback who is being counted on to provide needed playmaking ability both with his passing and running.

"He is a worker. He is a guy you want to get behind and let him drive the bus," Tamme said. "Every time we run, he wins. If he runs the ball during team (drills), he runs an extra 30 yards. Usually he runs several gassers (sprints) after practice. He's always just running his butt off.

"He's improved so much. I am excited about what I think he'll do. He gets to be the man now, and we all believe in him."

Running ahead: Kentucky running backs coach Ron Caragher likes what he's seen from his top four players - tailbacks Arliss Beach and Draak Davis, fullback Rock Johnson, and fullback-tailback Alexis Bwenge.

"They all came back a little stronger, a little faster and quicker," Caragher said. "We also have experience, something we didn't have last year."

Brooks predicted that Davis' weight gain would help him this season. The head coach has praised Davis, a junior college transfer last year, for breaking tackles in practice he could not break last season.

"He just looks like a new player," Brooks said.

Carragher thinks Bwenge's versatility is also important in Kentucky's offense.

"He's mainly taking snaps at fullback, but when we use him at tailback, he's doing fine," Caragher said. "He's very bright and picks things up quickly. He's really going to be important to us."

Kentucky hopes to add freshman Rafael Little to the mix next week. He's been held out of contact work so far because of knee surgery he had in June.

Surprising Booker: Walk-on Karl Booker was moved from receiver to cornerback in spring practice and he's made a big impression on defensive coordinator Mike Archer the last two weeks. He leads the team in interceptions and is making a big push for playing time at a spot where UK lacks depth.

"What he does best is catch the ball. If he gets a chance to pick one off, he does it," Archer said. "He's responded every time he's been tested. I like that."

Archer says Booker still has to learn the fine points of playing cornerback, but that he's improving daily.

"He's rough around the edges, but he's an intelligent, coachable kid. He's shown me he can play if we need him. That decision has already been made."

Student record: Kentucky students set a record for most student tickets purchased in a season earlier this week. Last year UK students bought 2,387 tickets, the most ever at the time. This year Kentucky has already sold 2,410 student season tickets.

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