ATHENS — Georgia’s offensive line is known best for its size and power, but Cade Mays adds a Swiss Army Knife element like no other.
The sophomore from Knoxville is just as big and powerful as most any of his teammates, but his unique ability to line up at any of the positions truly puts the Bulldogs over the top.
“He’s very versatile, that’s what he says,” UGA coach Kirby Smart said. “I look it as practice gains to me, he gets a ton of reps in practice.
“No moment is too big for him. He’s very intelligent, he’s very athletic.”
No doubt, and that’s why Mays has lined up at seven different positions on offense this season. From left tackle, to left guard, center, right guard and right tackle, along with limited snaps at tight end and as a fullback.
“It’s awesome,” Mays said after filling in for Trey Hill at center in the 27-0 win over Missouri last Saturday. “Just being able to get the opportunity to go out there, that’s not something a lot of people get to do.”
Each position requires a different mindset and understanding of assignments, and the center position requires Mays to make protection calls on each snap.
“Cade switched his mindset, he was ready to roll and make the most of his opportunity,” Georgia quarterback and team captain Jake Fromm said. “It shows his football IQ and what he knows. His body type and his mentality he goes with to work, knowing he can play any position on the front porch.
“It’s a little bit of musical chairs with him, but he takes on that role and he puts it on his back and says ‘I’m going to do anything I can for this football team.’ “
Mays’ right ankle got rolled up on late in last Saturday night’s game, but he said he’s fine and that means everything with a showdown at Auburn on deck.
The No. 5-ranked Bulldogs (8-1, 5-1 SEC) play the Tigers (7-2, 4-2) at 3:30 p.m. on Saturday at Jordan-Hare Stadium.
Smart indicated he thought Hill would be “fine,” but if not, Mays said he’s comfortable at the center position, even if it had been a while since he played here in a game prior to Saturday.
“I was in sixth grade the last time I played center,” Mays said. “There’s reps in practice, so I know all the points and where to put the protection, so that wasn’t a problem.
“I thought I played well, got everyone on the right page, it took us a while to get rolling, but I thought we played well.”
ESPN analyst and former Auburn lineman Cole Cubelic has remained among Mays’ biggest admirers.
“I like the way he plays more than any of those other guys in that entire group,” Cubelic said earlier this season. “Cade is a finisher, he has that nasty you love to see and plays the game the way it’s supposed to be played.
“You routinely see him 10 or 20 yards downfield looking for contact on each play.”
Georgia OL Cade Mays
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