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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.
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.