VAUGHT: Clayton a role model for many

Tight end Jacob Tamme has know linebacker Terry Clayton since they played together on the 2003 Kentucky all-star team. Still, even Tamme has to admit he's still impressed by the way Clayton has not let being deaf stop him from being a productive member of the Kentucky football team.

"He's going through something different than the rest of us every day, but he also beats that every day so he can play SEC football," Tamme said. "He presses the limits every day. To me, that's impressive."

Tamme and Clayton came to Danville, Tamme's hometown, today to speak at Kentucky School for the Deaf, a school Clayton attended during his elementary school years before returning to Logan County to go to school. "I envy the perseverance of everybody in this school," Tamme said. "And I know how much they must look up to Terry."

The students do. Clayton told them not to think of him as a hero. Instead, he wants to be a role model to show them they can dream of going to college, playing a college sport or finding a good job just like everyone else.

"I want to tell them my experiences and my goals. I am a deaf person. I want to tell them just be who you are. You can go to college, get a job and do well," Clayton said. "They can all dream just like I did."

Clayton has never let his handicap stop him on the football field. He played in two games in 2004 and five games last year. He's hoping to earn even more time on the field this season. "I just try my best. That's all I can do. But I love being at Kentucky."

The students loved having him at school, too. Most already knew him and those who didn't now are certainly Terry Clayton fans. Tamme might be better known across the state, but at KSD, Clayton was the star of stars.

"Somehow he got mixed up and did not know he needed to give a real speech. On the way down I was talking to him and he said, 'I have to talk a lot,'" Tamme laughed and said. "But he was excited all week about coming. He likes the opportunity to talk to these kids because he's been in their situation. He might not think of himself as a hero, but to these kids he is."

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