Colts Rookie Tight End Tamme Looks to Excels Off Field and On
INDIANAPOLIS – To Jacob Tamme, the idea was a natural.
Tamme, a tight end from the University of Kentucky selected by the Colts in the fourth round of the 2008 NFL Draft, long had been involved with off-field projects and charity work.
He had volunteered through his church and high school.
He kept donating time when he arrived at UK.
So, when Kentucky cornerback Antoine Huffman – who had been coordinating the team's charitable works programs – graduated, he suggested to Tamme he take over.
"I said, 'Sure,''' Tamme said during a recent interview for this story, the third of a nine-part series on the Colts' 2008 draft class that will run on Colts.com in the coming days.
"It's just a belief system, but I also think there are a lot of people in college who believe the same way. When you have an opunity to put on a jersey and walk into a hospital room or whatever, you kind of have an automatic influence. While you have that opportunity, you need to take advantage of it. We've had a lot of people here at UK who really cared about it. And a lot of guys who have gone out and given their time.
"There are a lot of people here at Kentucky who help coordinate things and set things up, but more than anything, I think it's just a belief system."
Tamme (6-feet-5, 240 pounds) did as much on the field at UK as he did off.
A three-year starter, he began his career at Kentucky as a wide receiver, then moved to tight end as a sophomore. He finished his career as the all-time leading receiver among tight ends in school history with 133 receptions for 1,417 yards and 11 touchdowns.
He caught 53 passes for 619 yards and six touchdowns this past season.
"We thought he had very special receiving skills," Colts President Bill Polian said shortly after the team made Tamme the 28th selection of the fourth round of the draft, the 127th selection overall.
"He's an outstanding pass receiver in the mold of (Colts starting tight end) Dallas Clark. . . . He's taller and a little thinner, but an outstanding, acrobatic, big-play receiver. We see him playing an active role as a move guy, an H-back, whatever you want to call him."
The Colts long have used two tight-end formations as extensively as any team in the NFL, and Polian said he believes Tamme blocks well enough to play in two-tight end sets with Clark.
The comparison to Clark was one made by analysts and observers throughout the pre-draft process, and Tamme said he watched and studied Clark at times in college. He said although he followed Indianapolis at times, watching much NFL was difficult because UK practiced on Sundays.
"It's hard to follow anybody," Tamme said. "A few weekends a year I'd get to watch them, but not a ton."
But Tamme said he did study Clark before his senior season, when he studied several tight ends around the NFL.
"We had some film in our system of some NFL games," Tamme said. "I went through and picked out some tight ends I wanted to watch. He was one of those guys. We kind of use the tight end a little bit at Kentucky the way it's used in Indy. I tried to see a little bit about how he does, and what he does."
Just how much he actually learned, and how much he was able to apply to his own play, Tamme said is difficult to gauge.
"You just watch film of those guys, and guys like Dallas in particular, and you try to pick up something little – the way they come of the ball, a technique thing," he said. "I wouldn't say there's anything specifically I used, but I wanted to see how he plays."
While Tamme studied NFL tight ends, he said he never seriously thought much about playing in the league until late in his collegiate career.
"In college, I've always dreamed of playing professional football," he said, "but I'm kind of a one-step-at-a-time guy, so I didn't really worry about it too much. I didn't think about it a lot. I was concerned with turning our program around at Kentucky.
"Now that I have this opportunity, now it's time to focus on this and kind of move on to the next chapter. I was not a guy who really thought about it too much.
"I just try to take one thing at a time and work my butt off."
And now that he has the opportunity, Tamme said he is ready as he can be. He played in an up-tempo system in college that utilized the tight end extensively, and while he said that won't translate directly to the Colts' system, he said, "I feel real prepared."
"I've been working out and trying to get my body in as good a shape as possible, ready to go," he said. "It's a great opportunity. I'm just excited to get up there and get going, get to work. I can't wait to learn more about it and see how things are done and learn.
"I'm really excited about all of that."