'Meach' knows his stuff

Vol receiver Robert Meachem parlayed 25 receptions into 459 yards and a team-high 18.4 yards-per-catch average as a redshirt freshman last fall. One can only guess what he might have accomplished if he'd actually known what he was doing.

"There were some times last year that I really didn't know what was going on," he said recently. "I was just so happy to be back in the game (after sitting out 2003 with a knee injury). As the ball started coming to me, I started learning more and more and more. And (senior receiver) Tony Brown was teaching me a lot more."

Even without knowing exactly what he was doing, Meachem managed to be productive in 2004 because of his remarkable blend of size (6-3, 218), speed and agility. His first two college receptions -- a 35-yarder in Game 1 vs. Nevada-Las Vegas and a 24-yarder in Game 3 vs. Louisiana Tech -- produced touchdowns. He caught three balls for 82 yards in Game 6 at Ole Miss and snared four balls for 67 yards in Game 9 vs. Notre Dame. Then he erupted in the regular-season finale against Kentucky, making five catches for 145 yards and a TD.

Now that Meachem has a year's experience and a better understanding of the UT offense, a lot of folks believe he's ready for a 50-catch, 1,000-yard season in 2005. Surprisingly, he isn't one of these folks.

"I honestly couldn't tell you how many catches I had last year; I don't read all that stuff," he said. "And the only goal I have for this year is to help the team the best way possible. I don't care if I don't touch the ball the whole game if we're winning. As long as we're winning, I'm happy."

Tennessee has so much talent at receiver that the Vols probably can win most Saturdays even if Meachem doesn't touch the ball the whole game. Jayson Swain, Chris Hannon, C.J. Fayton and Bret Smith are capable of picking up the slack. All are quality receivers in their own right.

"We've got a big chance to be the No. 1 receiving corps in the nation," Meachem said. "It's on us to take advantage of the opportunity God has given us. He's given us every tool there is in the toolbox to be the best."


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