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Cade Mays (left) and JT Daniels are both former 5-star recruits hoping to make an impact at their new schools this season.

Why Georgia QB JT Daniels attained NCAA waiver before Tennessee’s Cade Mays

ATHENS — The NCAA transfer portal is still a relatively new phenomenon, while the process of student-athletes receiving eligibility waivers remains decided on a case-by-case basis.

Mix in SEC passion with the already potent blend of that newness and subjectivity, and it’s no wonder fans express frustration and anger on social media.

RELATED: Details emerge on JT Daniels eligibility case

Georgia most recently saw USC transfer quarterback JT Daniels receive NCAA approval for immediate eligibility on May 28, less than 8 weeks after he announced he was leaving Los Angeles for Athens.

Former Bulldogs’ offensive lineman Cade Mays, meanwhile, remains in flux and awaiting word on his NCAA appeal for immediate eligibility after announcing his intention to return to Tennessee more than six months ago on Jan. 9.

Why, some fans have wondered, is this the case?

The SEC office informed DawgNation on Wednesday that Mays would indeed also require an intraconference waiver to bypass an existing rule ‘which requires a standard year-in-residence upon transfer.’

Mays, however, is likely not even that far along even as he has taken part in Tennessee workouts since January.

Knoxville WNML radio host Jimmy Hyams reported on Tuesday that Mays did not file his appeal to the NCAA until last week.


As a matter of procedure, an SEC office spokesman shared with DawgNation that, “member institutions will submit and complete the NCAA waiver process prior to engaging in the Conference waiver process.”

Attorney Thomas Mars represented Mays at the forefront of his transfer, and he told AJC.com at the onset he expected Mays to be granted eligibility.

“I can go on the record saying that I’m Cade’s lawyer and that, based on my investigation of the facts and circumstances, I’m confident Cade won’t have to sit out a year after he transfers,” Mars told the AJC back in January.

It’s still not clear why the Mays’ family or the University of Tennessee would have waited so long to file the appeal.

It is possible the Mays’ family waited to file the appeal on account of their pending $3 million lawn chair lawsuit filed against Georgia Dec. 5.

The suit stemmed from May’s father, former Vol lineman Kevin Mays, having his right pinky finger partially amputated after it was pinched in a folding chair during a Georgia visit on Dec. 15, 2017.

RELATED: Rocky Top Hop, Cade Mays goes from Vols commit, to Georgia, to transfer portal

The circumstances of the Daniels’ case and Mays’ cases — beyond the timing of the filings — would also figure to play a role.

Daniels was injured in the first half of the first game at USC last season, essentially missing the entire 2019 campaign.

Mays played in all 14 games for Georgia last season, including his start in the Sugar Bowl at left tackle.

Daniels is at the unique position of quarterback, where only one playing the orthodox version of the position can be on the field at a time. His injury opened the door for him to essentially lose his job.

Mays played all five offensive line positions for Georgia last season. Neither an injury nor playing time issue could be factored into his request for a waiver.

Finally, Daniels is transferring out of conference by leaving USC for Georgia.

,Mays’ transfer is in conference, requiring the aforementioned intraconference waiver.  

There are other SEC players who have transferred still awaiting their eligibility, including Joey Gatewood.

Gatewood, a 6-foot-5, 233-pound quarterback, announced his departure from Auburn on Oct. 30 and announced his plan to transfer to Kentucky on Dec. 5.

Gatewood had appeared in seven of eight games as a backup to starter Bo Nix before announcing his transfer.

The NCAA and SEC offices, meanwhile, continue sorting through potential solutions to move forward with the football season amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

The SEC most recently pushed back the start of the fall sports schedule earlier this week.

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