Lucas impresses Meachem

He caught four passes for 95 yards in Tennessee's first full-scale scrimmage of the preseason, including a 69-yard touchdown reception. Then he came back Saturday night in scrimmage No. 2 with one catch for 41 yards, and another touchdown. That's five catches for 136 yards (27 yards per catch) and two TDs.

With numbers like those, it's no wonder electrifying freshman Lucas Taylor is impressing a lot of people these days … including sophomore teammate Robert Meachem.

"That boy's nice," said Meachem, probably UT's best overall receiver. "He's a nice young man – fast, quick, can catch. He does it all."

Asked if he is surprised by the success the unheralded Taylor has had in his first few weeks of college ball, Meachem shook his head emphatically.

"Nah," he said. "It don't surprise me because at Tennessee they recruit the best."

Meachem should know. He was one of the best high school prospects in America when he signed with UT out of Tulsa, Okla., two-plus years ago. After missing the 2003 season with a knee injury, he led the Vols in receiving yards as a redshirt freshman in 2004. He looms as the team's go-to guy in 2005.

Meachem caught two passes for 62 yards in Saturday night's scrimmage. One of the receptions was a 20-yard strike from Rick Clausen that Meachem turned into a 57-yard gain before he was bumped out of bounds at the 13-yard line.

Asked to recap the play, Meachem responded in typically low-key fashion: "Rick threw a nice ball and I caught it. I should've scored but I was out there having fun."

Meachem also caught a quick hitch that had the potential for a big gain. He was ruled down, however, when "touched" by a defender because of the green (no tackling) jersey he wore. Asked if the green shirt kept him from making another big play, Meachem showed an uncharacteristic burst of emotion.

"Ooooooooh, yeah," he said. "That play over there on the sideline, I think I could've did a little more but they blew the whistle, so who knows?

Clausen and Erik Ainge continue to battle for the first-team quarterback job. Meachem thinks Clausen is a little more effective because he's a little more relaxed.

"He did real good today," Meachem said of Clausen. "He calmed down and had fun. Ainge has to calm down and have fun like Rick, and then we'll have two great quarterbacks."

Whoever winds up being the first-team QB, he'll be throwing to a remarkably talented receiving corps. Meachem conceded that he and his pass-catching pals are "coming along pretty good. We have a lot to work on still. We're not where we want to be. Once we reach that potential, everybody will see it."


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