« Football 2013

Jacob Karam

School

Memphis

Position
Quarterback
Major
Liberal Studies

Classroom

Karam transferred to the University of Memphis from Texas Tech where he graduated in two and a half years. Texas Tech has a unique tradition in which outstanding students, selected on all-around achievement, carry banners into commencement ceremonies and represent their respective university colleges. Karam was the Fall 2011 Commencement banner bearer for University College. Despite his considerable football and academic responsibilities, he graduated magna cum laude. According to Sarah Foley, the director of University College’s Advising Team, the three top students are chosen based on multiple categories such as GPA, campus involvement, community involvement and employment. A committee then convened and eventually selected Karam to be the banner bearer. At Memphis, Karam has been on the fast track to earn his master’s degree. He needs just one course credit this fall to graduate with a Master’s of Liberal Studies degree. Last year he was named to the Conference USA All-Academic Team. He was named to the Tiger 3.0 Club for the 2012 Spring and Fall semesters and has earned Dean’s List distinction.

Character

As a newly-hired first-year head coach Justin Fuente set out to find the student-athletes who excelled as leaders on his football team prior to the 2012 season. Karam, who had joined the program soon after Fuente’s hire, was quickly singled out to be one of the first members of Fuente’s Leadership Council. The group was formed to be a conduit between the team and the coaching staff. Last year’s group consisted of 10 student-athletes and Karam is on track to be a part of that group again this fall. In addition to leading by example, Karam has led by inclusion. Soon after his arrival on the University of Memphis campus he arranged a tour of St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital for himself and 15-20 of his University of Memphis teammates. The world-renowned hospital’s mission is to find cures for children with life-threatening diseases through research and treatment. Karam, who like St. Jude’s founder Danny Thomas, is Lebanese started a relationship with St. Jude’s which has gone far beyond community service. A YouTube video of Karam singing with a young St. Jude’s patient, Breanna Bercegeay, went viral (200,000 views in less than a week) and the Tiger quarterback was humbled by the attention always noting that the exposure was about Bree, the other children patients and the mission of St. Jude.

Community

Mentioned within the category “Character” is Karam’s relationship with St. Jude’s Research Hospital and Target House, an affiliated residence for patients and their families. By his admission, Karam has visited Target House about 10 times during the past year, doing sing-a-longs with patients, playing piano as background music, helping kids on scavenger hunts or just moving boxes and assisting the staff. He also played piano during an outing for St. Jude’s patients to Wolfchase Galleria Mall last Christmas. While the athletic department’s Life Skills staff coordinates community service projects for the program’s teams and student-athletes, the visits to Target House are something Karam started doing and continues to do on his own. But that’s not to say he has not been involved with his teammates and the program’s community service efforts. This summer he teamed with several student-athletes from other sports to help build a new playground at Hanley Elementary School in the Orange Mound community of Memphis. From the front steps of the school, students can see the Liberty Bowl, home of the Memphis Tigers. The school is in an impoverished neighborhood and Memphis athletes including Karam have participated in summer camp activities at the Orange Mound Community Center as well. He has read at First Assembly Christian School, joined Special Olympics’ athletes for a bowling party and spoke to students at Collierville Elementary School.

Competition

Last fall Karam helped lead the University of Memphis to a 4-8 overall record and a 4-4 mark in Conference USA play. The Tigers won more games last season than the previous two years combined and posted the program’s most C-USA wins since 2008. Memphis finished the season with a three-game winning streak. For the year, Karam completed 176-of-274 passes for 1,895 yards and 14 touchdowns. He set a single-season school record by completing 64.2 percent of his passes while his season totals for completions and touchdowns ranked among the Top 10 in program history. Karam only had three interceptions for a Memphis team which ranked for third nationally in interceptions thrown. He also ran for 221 yards and a touchdown during the year. He was named the Tennessee Sports Writers Association offensive football player of the week after completing 14-of-18 passes for 270 yards and two touchdowns in UM’s 37-23 victory over Tulane to begin a three-game winning streak to end the season. He closed out his first season at Memphis by completing 40-of-52 passes (76.9 percent) for 579 yards and seven touchdowns during the Tigers’ final three games.