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December 30, 1999
Fiesta Notes: Volunteers Cheered by Return of Martin
BY STEVEN PIVOVAR
WORLD-HERALD STAFF WRITER

Tempe, Ariz. - Tennessee quarterback Tee Martin went through his first full workout Wednesday since being sidelined by a viral infection earlier this week.

Martin and his teammates went through a two-hour workout at Phoenix Mountain Pointe High School as they continued preparations for Sunday's Tostitos Fiesta Bowl game against third-ranked Nebraska. Martin had missed Monday's opening on-site workout, and had participated on a limited basis in Tuesday's drills.

"It was great getting him back out there," Tennessee Coach Phillip Fulmer said. "We still have to watch him a little bit. Tee is one of those guys who tries to push through everything and the next thing you know he's back sick.

"He says he feels great and we're excited about having him back. He did fine yesterday. I didn't know what to expect, so I was pleased with anything he got done. I thought he did really well."

Martin, the Volunteers' All-Southeastern Conference quarterback, met with reporters earlier in the day. He said he will be 100 percent for Sunday's game, and that he was glad to be back in the mix of things.

"The trainers were being real careful, and they pretty much kept me all by myself," Martin said. "They didn't want anyone else getting sick. I watched a lot of tape, but I was getting pretty bored."

Tennessee did have one starter miss Wednesday's practice as tight end John Finlayson missed his second straight day after having a wisdom tooth pulled. He was expected to return Thursday.

Fulmer Extension

Tennessee officials announced that the university and Fulmer are moving toward an agreement on a one-year contract extension through the 2005 season. Tennessee President J. Wade Gilley will recommend to the university's Board of Trustees an agreement that would increase Fulmer's salary package to $1,050,000.

Fulmer, whose 76-13 record and .854 winning percentage makes him the nation's winningest active coach, currently has a compensation package that pays him $950,000.

"I appreciate President Gilkey's confidence in the way we conduct the university's football program," Fulmer said in a release. "One of the best things about serving as UT's head coach is the consistency of the support we receive at the administrative level."

Stopping the Vols

As it always does, Nebraska will go into Sunday's game with a defensive strategy designed to slow Tennessee's running game in an attempt to make the Volunteers' offense one-dimen-sional.

Husker linebacker Carlos Polk said that might be easier said than done. The Volunteers' running back tandem of Travis Henry and Jamal Lewis have combined for 1,606 yards and 15 touchdowns. Although Lewis is the quicker of the two backs, he's also five pounds heavier than the 220-pound Henry.

"They are both north-south runners," Polk said. "We've seen them on film and they run powerful and strong. We knew we're going to have to gang tackle them. We cannot go into this by just reaching out with an arm, because they will break an arm tackle."

Adding difficulty to the Huskers' defensive assignment is Martin's ability to run the football.

"Tee Martin can just pull the ball down and run sometimes, and you can't just worry about him throwing every time," Polk said. "He can do some quarterback draws and make a big play out of some of those. So we have to stay after him on every play."

Vols' Henry to Start

Henry will be making his third straight start at running back, having taken over for Lewis after he suffered an ankle injury in a Nov. 13 game against Arkansas. Henry rushed for a 179 yards in the Nov. 20 win over Kentucky, then had 153 yards in the first half in a Nov. 27 game against Vanderbilt before being injured himself.

Henry landed on his head and neck after being flipped through the air on a tackle. Although his teammates feared the worse, Henry suffered only a bruised neck and was released after being kept overnight at a Knoxville hospital.

"It was a very scary moment to me," Henry said. "The way it looks on tape, you would think I would be paralyzed or something by the way I landed."

Henry admits he's shuddered when he's viewing replays of the play.

"It's something I'd rather not watch," he said. "I looked at it one or two times after I got out of the hospital, and I haven't looked at it since. It was scary."


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