Tennessee tackles NCAA, marshals forces on Cade Mays’ transfer eligibility
ATHENS — The Tennessee VolNation is taking on the NCAA and SEC league office, mounting a furious, politically charged campaign to circumvent the current collegiate football transfer rule.
Knoxville attorney Greg Isaacs took to Twitter on Wednesday night, announcing another appeal filed on behalf of offensive lineman Cade Mays to get immediate eligibility to play for the Vols this season.
The first appeal was denied, setting off fireworks among the Tennessee fans, some who aren’t aware of the rules in place.
The NCAA has a rule that requires transfers to sit out a year when transferring unless they receiver a waiver that would warrant it appropriate under certain circumstances.
The SEC must also issue a waiver for in-conference transfers.
Making a case
Mays’ attorney has stated Georgia had a “toxic” environment.
“Cade is an exceptional young man and student athlete,” Isaacs tweeted. “Came home to East Tennessee to be with his family based on his environment at the prior institution.”
Tennessee coach Jeremy Pruitt suggested Mays was in a tough environment at Georgia on account of his father filing a $3 million lawsuit after losing the tip of his right pinky finger in a folding chair accident.
Mays transferred out of UGA on Jan. 10, 2020, just more than a month after the lawsuit was filed on Dec. 5, 2019.
Isaacs tagged beloved Knoxville U.S. Representative Tim Burchett in his tweet, looking to apply political pressure on the SEC and NCAA to make Mays eligible.
Burchett, in turn, tweeted from his 43,000-plus Twitter accounting imploring the “@NCAA do the right thing #FreeCadeMays Let him come home” tagging Pruitt.
The groundswell of support in East Tennessee has Big Orange fans outraged on social media and ready to take action. More than 13,500 have signed a “Free Cade Mays” petition online at change.org.
Georgia fans have been mostly indifferent, having seen former Bulldogs’ players who transferred out have to sit out a season.
Last year two of Georgia’s Top 50 national recruits that had transferred in conference sat out the season, defensive end Brenton Cox (at Florida), and defensive back Deangelo Gibbs (at Tennessee).
The SEC currently has two other high profile transfers — both once top 100 high school recruits — who have not received waivers to play this season; former Georgia safety Otis Reese (to Ole Miss) and former Auburn quarterback (Joey Gatewood) to Kentucky.
Reese and Gatewood were both in backup situations, but that’s not the case with Mays, who played and started the past two seasons for the Bulldogs.
Georgia is a program that has recently led in the nation in recruiting expenditures, investing deeply in securing talent and sending coaches across the country on tireless trips.
When a starting player leaves the team, it illustrates a significant loss of the investment of time and money that went into recruiting the player
There’s also the matter of invaluable playing time and experience that a starter has the expense of others on the team, along with the time invested by the coaching staff in areas of development on and off the field.
Still, most Georgia fans are puzzled by the animosity building. It’s up to the NCAA and the SEC to clear a player — not the previous institution.
One of the reasons why the SEC has the one-year rule in place, is to discourage league members from tampering and/or re-recruiting players.
This era of Twitter, Facebook and Instagram have made it easier than ever for coaches to maintain and initiate undetected contact with players, as the NCAA does not have subpoena power.
Mays was once a Tennessee commit, but he backed out of what was once the SEC’s top-ranked 2017 class when the season went south on former coach Butch Jones.
Mays’ younger brother, Cooper, is a member of the Vols’ current football team. His father, Kevin, played for current Tennessee AD and College Football Hall of Fame Coach Phillip Fulmer,
Georgia recruited Cooper Mays, but the Bulldogs didn’t have any scholarships available for the younger Mays and didn’t provide a committable offer.
Pruitt and the Vols made sure to sign Cooper Mays early, taking care of their local Knoxville talent.
The Bulldogs are going into the 2020 season with a reloaded offensive line, having to replace three junior starters who were drafted into the NFL, along with Mays.
ESPN O-Line expert Cole Cubelic ranks the UGA line fourth in the SEC behind Alabama, Tennessee and Kentucky.
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