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Cade Mays has become a valuable piece for the Georgia offense.

Cade Mays plays ‘mean and nasty’ and he’s ready to take on his hometown team in Tennessee

Connor Riley

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Cade Mays prepares for his first trip to Neyland Stadium and Tennessee

Offensive linemen rarely have viral moments for good plays. When a video clip of line play shows up on Twitter, it’s usually to highlight what a defensive lineman did to some slow-footed guard or tackle.

Cade Mays is the exception to that. A quick search of Twitter will show quite a few highlights of Mays punishing opposing defenders. He’s made a habit of this during his time in Athens.

The clips above show that it isn’t enough to just win the rep. He wants to put opposing defenders in the ground and make them think twice about getting back up. Mays’ physical style of play represents everything Kirby Smart wants the entire program to be.

“He’s a super talented guy that plays the game the right way, with toughness and passion,” Smart said.

Georgia outside linebacker Azeez Ojulari was a little bit more colorful in his description of Mays.

“Physical, mean and nasty for sure,” Ojulari said.

Teammates say the sophomore lineman is not exactly taking out Jordan Davis and Tyler Clark in a similar manner in practice. But they’ve made it known that Mays does practice with the same sort of intensity throughout the week that he displays on Saturdays.

“Cade is a consistent guy,” Georgia quarterback Jake Fromm said. “He’s a guy that wants to come in and work. He doesn’t just come in and flip a switch and do that on Saturday. He’s a guy that plays really rough and relentless throughout the week.”

The other calling card for Mays has been his versatility. He’s moved around quite a bit in his time in Athens, playing at right guard, right tackle,  and left tackle last season when Andrew Thomas missed time. He also reps as the back-up center during practice. Smart did add that Mays won’t be at the left guard spot this week, even in the event that starter Solomon Kindley isn’t able to play.

For Mays’ play last season, he earned Freshman All-American honors and whether he’s been at guard or tackle, he’s continued that strong play into the 2019 season. The Bulldogs have surrendered just one sack on the season and lead the SEC in yards per carry and yards per game.

In terms of on the field play this week, Mays and the Georgia offensive line might not be challenged too much, given Tennessee ranks 11th in the SEC in rushing yards allowed per game. But this game does carry extra significance for Mays.

Mays grew up in Knoxville, Tenn. His dad played for the Volunteers. He served as the crown jewel for Tennessee’s 2018 recruiting class for over two years, and everything looked lined up for him to follow in his dad’s footsteps. Then the bottom fell out of the Butch Jones era and Mays — a 5-star player and the No. 1 overall prospect in the state of Tennessee for the 2018 class — backed off his commitment.

Related: Family ties make Georgia-Tennessee a more emotional game for Cade Mays, Azeez Ojulari and Eli Wolf

Not even a week after Mays’ de-commitment, Tennessee parted ways with Jones. His de-commitment — along with a 50-17 loss to Missouri — proved to be the final nails in Jones’ coffin.

Mays told reporters earlier this year that Georgia really didn’t enter the picture in his recruitment until mid-October. That’s before Jones’ dismissal but after Georgia hammered the Volunteers 41-0.

Smart said his recruiting pitch wasn’t some diabolical plan to strike another critical blow to the Tennessee program. It was a much simpler sell for Mays.

“He had an opportunity,” Smart said of his recruiting pitch to Mays. “We were low on linemen, and knew he could come in and help us. And coach Pittman had a great relationship with him, and he chose to come. The sell was the education at Georgia and the opportunity to play early.”

Mays ended up picking the Bulldogs in December of 2017, even after Tennessee and Jeremy Pruitt made a last-ditch effort to land Mays. He enrolled at Georgia in January of 2018, but if you factor in the amount of time he was committed to Tennessee, Mays has still spent more time as a committed member of the Tennessee program than he has as a Bulldog.

So Saturday will be a homecoming for Mays — whose brother is currently a 4-star center and commitment in Tennessee’s 2020 recruiting class. Things might get a little nasty based off what some of the fans might have to say to him.

But his head coach feels comfortable that Mays’ nasty streak won’t lead him to make any emotional plays he might regret.

“Obviously, when your father plays for that school and you grow up in that town, there’s a lot of emotions there. But Cade has played in a lot of big games”  Smart said. “He’s played in a lot of snaps, a lot of positions. I think he understands that he cannot let the emotion get the best of him. He knows a lot of the guys on their team and kind of was around a lot of them, but Cade as good control, he has good self-control, and he understands what he can and can’t do, and he’ll play hard just like they’ll play hard against him.”

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