The addition of Cade Mays is another example of Tennessee trying to replicate Georgia football
Ever since Jeremy Pruitt arrived at Tennessee, it seems like he’s tried to incorporate some part of the Georgia football program into his own.
Prior to the 2018 season, Pruitt hired Georgia outside linebackers coach Kevin Sherrer to be his defensive coordinator. He also hired former defensive line coach Tracy Rocker to the same position.
Then last offseason, offensive coordinator Jim Chaney left Georgia to take the same position at Tennessee with a considerable raise. Pruitt also brought in Deangelo Gibbs as a transfer, after he had left the Georgia program.
This week Cade Mays — a multi-game starter for Georgia in each of the past two seasons and the Bulldogs’ likely 2020 starting left tackle — entered the transfer portal and on Thursday the Volunteers announced Mays as a member of their program. Mays is from Knoxville, Tenn., his father— who is currently suing Georgia — played for the Volunteers and his younger brother, Cooper, is a member of Tennessee’s 2020 signing class.
On its own, Mays heading to Tennessee makes some sense. If he can gain eligibility, which he will need a waiver from the NCAA to do so, he gets the opportunity to play with and closer to his family.
But when factoring the Mays news into everything else, it’s just another example of Pruitt taking a piece of Georgia’s program and incorporating it into his own.
What Pruitt has done to this point is hardly unique, as coaches try and add elements from other successful programs into their own frequently. Even Kirby Smart has done this and received some criticism for trying to perhaps copy what Nick Saban has done at Alabama.
When Smart first came to Georgia he brought with him Alabama defensive backs coach Mel Tucker, Alabama director of player development Glenn Schumann and Alabama safety Maurice Smith. Tucker served as Georgia’s defensive coordinator, Schumann as the inside linebackers coach and Smith ended up being the defensive MVP on the 2016 team.
Some of the coaching moves can be justified, given Smart and Pruitt have so much overlap in their backgrounds as both worked under Saban at Alabama as defensive coordinators. Pruitt had a relationship with both Sherrer and Rocker stemming from his time as Georgia’s defensive coordinator.
Pruitt also recruited both Gibbs — when he was the defensive coordinator at Alabama — and Mays as recruits. Pruitt took over as the head coach at Tennessee just days before Mays ultimately decided to sign with Georgia as a 5-star member of the 2018 class.
Mays was also a longtime Tennessee commit in the 2018 class only to back off his pledge prior to the firing of Butch Jones. Had Tennessee retained Jones, or even possibly hired Pruitt sooner in its debacle of coaching search in 2018, Mays may have been a Volunteer all along.
The addition of Mays also helps give Tennessee a Georgia like feel on the offensive line in 2020. If Mays is granted eligibility for the upcoming season, he would be one of four 5-star offensive linemen on the 2020 Tennessee team, as he would join Wanya Morris, Darnell Wright and Trey Smith.
On Georgia’s 2019 line, Mays was one of four 5-star prospects, as he was joined by Isaiah Wilson, Jamaree Salyer and Clay Webb, though Wilson and Mays played much more than the latter two.
As for the on-field results for the Volunteers, Tennessee did overcome a slow start to the 2019 season to finish with an 8-5 record. The Volunteers haven’t quite gotten to Georgia’s level yet, but just about everyone would recognize that Pruitt walked into a much tougher job than Smart did.
The two teams these two have met on the field it hasn’t been all that close either. Georgia won 38-12 in 2018 and then came away with a 43-14 win in Knoxville this past season. Tennessee visits Georgia on Nov. 14 in the 2020 season and while the Bulldogs will have a drastically different offense, Georgia is likely to still be favored.
It does make sense for Pruitt to try and do some of the same things that helped make Smart very successful early in his tenure at Georgia, just as it did when Smart ran so many plays out of the Saban playbook at Alabama.
And perhaps all the familiarity will make the 2020 meeting between Georgia all the more interesting, if not competitive.
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- Social media reacts to news of Jake Fromm departure, Cade Mays family lawsuit
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