Meachem makes mark

Robert Meachem wasn't living up to his hype earlier this season. The former prep All-America receiver caught just five balls for 81 yards in Tennessee's first five games, leading some fans to wonder if maybe he had been overrated.

Hardly. Meachem showed down the stretch that he is all he was advertised to be. The 6-foot-3, 215-pounder had his breakout game against Ole Miss, grabbing three balls for 82 yards. His stats for Tennessee's last seven games were downright imposing -- 17 catches for 348 yards and a 21.1 yards-per- catch average.

Though not a big talker, Meachem concedes that his recent turnaround has been pretty rewarding.

''It's coming along pretty good,'' he said. ''I understand the offense a little bit better and I'm having fun.

''I feel like I'm getting better. I've still got a lot to learn but I keep working hard and keep trying to get better.''

Meachem's emergence has helped Tennessee to score 38, 37 and 28 points the past three games -- an average of 33.3 points per game. The 28-point effort came against Auburn, which led the NCAA in scoring defense at just 9.6 points per game.

Meachem and his mates hope to continue their high level of productivity in the Cotton Bowl Jan. 1 against Texas A&M.

''We feel like we're doing all right,'' he said. ''If we can take the same game to the field we did against Auburn, we'll probably do well.''

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